Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
YA Realistic/Humor, 336 pages
Acquired and read: From the publisher, with a little help and pixie dust from the author herself - thank you so much! - and was finished up within a day
1 ConcertDisclaimer: This is a pre-release ARC received from the publisher. As such, please check any quotes or information against the finished copy of the book.
3 Ex-Best Friends
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.
Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.
But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.
Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.
Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.
But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?
Okay, first of all, we can't start this party off without a little mention of the cover. Just take a moment to scroll up and look at that. From the moment the ARC slipped out of the package and into my hands, the feeling I got was, "Summer is here, so slather on the sunscreen and let's get some beach reading done!"
I kid you not. That shade of yellow is definitely an eye-catcher.
Anyway, down to what's inside that pretty package. The story centers around Alice, Summer and Tiernan - three best friends and self-proclaimed biggest fans of the band Level3 (which, if you want to get a mental approximation, personally makes me think of a mixture of the Jonas Brothers - pre-"Joe the Hobo" stage - and One Direction). Unfortunately, when the band broke up, their friendship shattered right along with it.
Until now. High school graduation, getting ready to fall out of touch forever with the beginnings of their adult lives, and Alice just knows it's fate when Level3 announces a once-in-a-lifetime reunion show in Austin, Texas. So, does this girl go, "Oh, my gosh, our favorite band is getting back together? I should go and watch them by myself, for old times' sake!"
Puh-leeze. If she was that flat and boring (and...just not a teenager), we wouldn't have over three hundred words of plot, right?
No. Alice goes with her gut instinct and hits that Pay Now button - three tickets for three ex-best friends to see the band that made their friendship. Now, before we start linking arms and singing Kumbaya, remember that crucial word: ex. As in the guy with the weird toaster obsession that you'd rather take the long way home than face...or how about the co-worker who was always picking her nose? People you want to forget. People you don't expect will sit for hundreds of miles without fighting for shotgun or arguing over snacks or unplanned road trips.
You really can't blame Tiernan and Summer for wanting to avoid that hot mess, can you? In any case, due to their own ulterior motives, both girls jump on board - and you, the reader, are in on the most messed-up road trip of your summer vacation.
Ms. Graham has to be given kudos for a crucial aspect of writing YA that many would-be authors flounder on: she knows teenagers. True, many instances of the plot aren't really the escapades me or any of my besties would be caught doing (attempting to bury a reanimated squirrel? Going swimming with hippies of a suspicious nature? Parents, do you know where your daughters are tonight?), but the emotions and turbulence and uncertainty that come with leaving a certain stage of life behind ring true.
One complaint I always have about realistic fiction is the lack of happy endings - or at least, endings that fit my criteria for putting aside the book with a goofy smile on my face and a gentle pat on its glossy cover. I am happy to tell you that Reunited does end on a good note - in spite of the old resentments, and the lost concert tickets, and a particularly awful night in New Orleans.
Long story. I think you should just read it for yourself. As it is, I think my spoiler filter is being stretched to the max. Just, hang on until June - or better yet, plan a large road trip, kidnap one or two friends, and have a good excuse to read it for yourself.
Just...make sure they're willing victims. Or you'll find yourself in a big mess of your own.
Warnings (or, stuff that I would NOT pack in the backseat for that week-long road trip): A lot of innuendo. Personally, I think that could be taken out and spare the plot completely. Also, I think there are one or two instances of language, a mention of a philandering father - and a boyfriend - and some kissing.