Author: Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Adventure
Rating: 5 (4.5 Stars)
KYLIE: MEXICO? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??
MAX: It started with Kylie’s laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics, and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we’re stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.
WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was struck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border. But there’s no reason to rush back home right away—this party is just getting started!
LILY: This CANNOT be happening. It’s like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes, and when I reopen them, they’re still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I’m giving him up without a fight, she’s dead wrong.
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I loved this book, and I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even though the rating was more of a 4.5 for me, I’m going to go ahead and mark it up to a full 5 stars. From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas is at its heart, a good old-fashioned road trip adventure. It’s about a tenuously connected group of teens that get sucked into the road trip of a lifetime and the ensuing chaos as they try to make it back home in time for their high school graduation. There are bar fights, late-night swims with dolphins, car chases, kidnapping, and a dubious group wedding on a dock in Ensanada—just to name a few hijinks.
The book was funny, quick-paced, and easy to read. I didn’t catch any glaring typos or awkward sentences. The characters (mostly) made sense (let’s face it, an angry teenage girl doesn’t always make great leaps of logic in times of crisis), and the dialog was believable. Though it was a long book by YA standards (a whopping 462 pages in my hardback copy), I felt sucked into the story from the very beginning, and finished the book in a matter of hours—taking only one much-needed break to sleep.
For the most part, I liked the characters—Max and Kylie especially. Okay, I’ll admit, I hated Lily. She’s just the type of person I can’t stand… manipulative, petty, and self-absorbed. I wasn’t a huge fan of Will either, despite his status as Kylie’s best friend. He was a little too “devil may care” for me. He stepped in a lot when he didn’t need to and made situations worse than they had to be. He was also extremely loyal to his best friend though, and I have to give him props for that.
The only major downfall of this book for me was the character of Jake. I get it… he’s sort of the token sibling with issues. He has Asperger’s, and while I appreciate the fact that he was added into the story for diversity’s sake… and it’s refreshing to see the world through a slightly different POV…he wasn’t an integral part of the story. His chapters had very little plot development and had he not been a part of the cast, the story would have faired just as well without him. Jake felt too much like filler in the long run.
That aside, I enjoyed the book. The characters weren’t exactly what I expected when I read the blurb from the characters printed on the inside of the dust jacket. I was expecting a lot of back-stabbing girl drama with some coming-of-age literary bits thrown in, and instead I got an adventure filled with laughter, love, and crazy events that spun wildly out of control in the best way possible.
I would highly recommend this book to any YA reader looking for a solid, fun, summer adventure story. The romance has a strong role to play in the drama, but it’s not the main focus of the story. This is really about a bunch of teens trying to figure out who they are and learning to let go of what high school and family expectations have molded them into. It’s going on my keeper shelf.