A Little Less Girl by Tess Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
MC Dani and her mom have moved from California to a small town (in the midwest?), and Dani hopes to leave her mom's sketchy past and even sketchier boyfriends behind them for a "normal" life. The move is tinged with sadness, though, because they've inherited their new home from Amy's grandmother. Grammie died shortly after Dani's cousin Amy committed suicide when Jake West, the boy Amy obsessively crushed on, made some hurtful remarks about her. Dani wants to hate Jake, but begins to realize things weren't what they seem as, with the help of Amy's diary, she begins to figure out what really happened to her beloved cousin.
This is a good read, with intense emotions, a bit of mystery and many charming characters. Dani is maybe a little to good to be true, but still comes across as real, tender and tough, and deserving of better than what she's got so far. Jake - super swoonworthy, not just because of his looks, but also his thoughtfulness and vulnerability. The other side characters, especially Dani's mom, are interesting and fun, and add dimensionality and depth. This was a fun, fast read (I started it this morning and worked all day, so ...) and is hard to put down. It is pretty much a romance, with all of the attendant Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights allusions one could hope for. I liked the discussion of Lord of the Flies, it was relevant to the plot, and also helped with the development of the characters' relationship. I always think it's fun when a book does that.
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