Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae

An Only If Novel. . .
by Kristin Rae
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
YA Romance
320 pages

MARCH 29th, 2016!!!

If Only . . . he was the boy she's been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!

Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she's struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family--but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball--not dance--is Jessie's passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?


New town, new friends, new school, new life. That's what's up in Maddie's world, and she's hating it. Riches to rags (although it's never clear why), leave her moving with her family to the 'country' in Texas. This had me smiling, since it was really just a house more in the outer suburbs.

Maddie is a bit of an odd egg. She's friendly, makes friends quick, into theater and very nice, but she's got quite the hang-up on more traditional movies and actors, especially Gene Kelly. This is quite the fun quirk and gave her a lot of personality, but at times, I wondered if the intended reading audience might be left a little outside because of it. Maddie's also a real dreamer, which makes her endearing.

Jessie, the guy she may or may not be interested in, comes from the family next door. He's got everything a teenage girl could dream for, especially Maddie. He's pretty level headed, determined, and doesn't let others push him around as much as one might think. In other words, he's an easy guy to like in so many ways.

The setting and situations come across fairly realistic and balance humor and drama in a delightful way. The whole story has a light-hearted feel about it despite some deeper problems and messages. The actions usually fit the characters well and the dialogue always felt natural. I found myself getting caught up in the world and enjoyed being there.

There's drama and romance and all the confusion that it involves, especially for high school life.

In other words, this was even better than I thought it'd be, and except for my concern that Maddie's interests might go over reader's heads, found the entire story charming. Teenage girls ages twelve and up will not only feel for Maddie, but wish they had a Jessie of their own.

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