From the publisher: In the span of forty-eight hours, socially awkward valedictorian, Kylie Flores and conceited jock, Max Langston, who’ve never spoken in four years of high school, will find themselves kidnapped, taken over the Mexican border, married and falling in love. Kylie’s best friend, Will, Max’s girlfriend, Lily and Max’s wingman, Charlie are the unlikely cavalry charged with rescuing them. Against all odds, this crew must find their way back over the border in time for graduation and for Kylie to give her long awaited valedictorian speech, without killing each other en route.
What I liked loved: It’s hard to pinpoint the book’s biggest strength. The multiple strings of narratives, the swept-away romance, the rollicking misadventures – everything just meshes together like peanut butter, chocolate and bananas! If I had to choose, I’d say the book’s biggest selling point is the fast-moving plot. I love how the authors structured the story with each chapter jumping from one major character to the next. I credit their Hollywood screenwriting skills for weaving the multiple narratives without jerking the reader around or muddling up the plot. You get to know the characters bit by bit and want to keep tearing through the pages to find out how they overcome their problems. Oh and did I mention there are a couple of high-speed car chases involved? Vroom, vroom!
The romance: Max and Kylie’s unlikely romance rekindled my silly high school fantasies of being marooned on a desert island with the Luke Perry lookalike from my fifth period English lit class. They had the whole Jude Law/Ally Sheedy love chemistry thing going on (Breakfast Club fans, you know what I’m talking about) and it worked! Come to think of it, this book flows much like a John Hughes 80s romance. Think Some Kind of Wonderful meets Pretty in Pink meets The Breakfast Club. And just when I didn’t think it could get any better – the love drama sweeps into a motion all-too-reminiscent of my most favorite romance movie of all time, Before Sunrise. If you haven’t seen it, put it on you Netflix queue stat! Oh Ethan Hawke…how I wish we could have a spontaneous romantic interlude on a train to Paris…sigh.
Thoughts on the cover art: If the first couple pages don’t grab you, the cover certainly will! The image, depicting a foursome of stranded rich teenagers amidst the backdrop of a Mexican sunset, looks like a “coming soon” poster in a movie theater. The little bitty Chihuahua is a nice touch, and I wonder why he couldn’t have played a larger role in the story. If I had to get nitpicky, that would be my only gripe about the book.
Overall: There’s a reason why this book made my shortlist of Best Books of 2012. It’s a fast, furious rollercoaster ride of misadventures, romance and drunken teenage debauchery! But it’s not all teenage hijinks; the characters are dealing with some heavy duty stuff, such as mental illness, cancer and financial meltdowns. Each character may seem to be neatly compartmentalized as a “jock,” “class clown” “brain” and “princess,” but they each have their own unique backstory, which the authors slowly reveal in every chapter. I love a good coming-of-age story of self-discovery – and this book totally delivers. Don’t be overwhelmed by the 400+ pages. It’s a super-fast read that can easily be devoured in one weekend. Get it. Read it. Share it!