Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary
Summary: What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.
At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.
The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?
I had a great time reading this last week. It was a great retelling and even though I didn’t stop hating Jared until more than halfway into the book, I did enjoy the connection between him and Claire. They had a lot of problems but the little things that brought them together, like “hun” and other inside jokes, made me love them together.
And also, I knew I was going to at least like this book, if not love it, because I love a modern retelling of Persuasion about as much as I love chocolate and kittens, just on principle. It’s my favorite Austen novel (with Pride and Prejudice at a close second), so I expected to enjoy this, and I did.
However, that being said, while I enjoyed a lot of things about this novel, there were two aspects of it that turned me off.
1.) Claire whines.
I mean, I wouldn’t say excessively, but she’s clearly throwing a pity party most of the time and while I get that her life is pretty much awful and she’s had a gigantic heap of huge disappointments in the past two years, it kind of grated on my nerves at times. It’s a small complaint though and in the end, it didn’t bother me that much.
I can deal with minors smoking and drinking and going at it like bunnies. It’s not model behavior, sure, but I can live with reading about it. But there is a scene which made me very uncomfortable, and Claire’s reaction to that scene made me even more so. Despite having come very close to being raped (and yes, it is rape if a girl says “no” and “stop” like 4 times, which apparently some people haven’t gotten the memo about), Claire completely brushes it off and gives the man “the benefit of the doubt”, and then literally nothing happens. No consequences, no confrontation, nothing. And that was a big issue for me. I would be fine with the scene itself if Claire had gotten angry, if she’d done anything rather than the “we were drunk, forget it” routine. Even the most intoxicated person can understand the word “no”. But I was very bothered that the author introduced such a sensitive topic and then had the protagonist downplay it. It was only mentioned once in passing after the scene, and I was just baffled. Claire, you were drunk with a man taking off your clothes and touching you despite the fact that you didn’t want him to and you repeatedly told him to stop. You are supposed to be more bothered by that. And also it just plays into this idea that when someone tries to rape you, it’s not a big deal and you should just get over it.
I really did love this novel, and I would be giving it a higher rating if it weren’t for the second issue I just mentioned. Maybe it won’t bother other readers, but I was very disturbed by that scene and it ruined the rest of the novel for me a little bit, which is why I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5. Other than that, however, this was a great, fun, well-written retelling that I’m glad I read.