Again, but Better by Christine Riccio (373 pages)
Even just a few pages in, I knew that I was going to love this novel. Our main character Shane is preparing to study abroad in London and is looking forward to making new friends and taking chances. We quickly learn that Shane, a pre-med major, is using this semester abroad to study writing instead, something her parents don’t know. Shane leads us on an adventure, not dissimilar from the adventures of characters in her beloved Lost and Harry Potter.
After landing in London, Shane is immediately interested in Pilot, the boy across the hall. Through their budding romance, we learn how both characters react to setbacks and to challenges. Shane starts the novel as relatively timid, shy, and nearly incapable of speaking to attractive boys. After meeting Pilot and starting her secret writing internship at a travel magazine, we follow Shane’s growth and transformation. Just as everything is looking up, Shane’s parents come to visit and ultimately find out that she’s been lying about how she’s been spending her tuition money, something her father cannot abide. To make matters worse, Pilot abruptly breaks things off with Shane. As the semester ends, Shane returns home to continue her pre-med track with her tail between her legs.
After a time jump, we meet back up with Shane who has since graduated from med school and is in the interview process. Even after all this time, however, Shane cannot shake Pilot from her memory. When she looks him up and ambushes him for coffee, things take an exciting turn.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
I had a blast reading this book. While the constant 2011 references were heavy-handed at times, I enjoyed the nostalgia. Shane is interested in essentially the same things I was in 2011 so I was able to connect with her. The pacing is quite good and the surprise twist was exciting. This novel conveys the importance of making decisions for yourself and not letting others control your life.
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Rachel Gomes is a 20-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their two cats and two dogs. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table