“I’m not bleak. I’m realistic. I mean it, too. I don’t hate my life and I’m not unhappy. It is just that I understand the way that the world works. I don’t need to pretend.”
Like many a YA novel this is the story of a senior year. June Rafferty just wants it over and to be able to move on with “real” life. She has been paired with Oliver in a carpool in an evil conspiracy set up by their mothers. She is pretty sure that it is just to make her miserable.
June know that she is smart… no one is on her level of smartness. She is smarter than everyone else so of course it is okay for her to be mean and judgmental. I really didn’t like her. Condescension is not something that I forgive a character for easily. Or really ever. It made it hard to get the “cute”.
And there was cuteness:
“We haven’t spent much time together since Kindergarten, when we got married under the monkey bars in a ceremony officiated by Shaun Banerjee. Our relationship was consummated with a sticky kiss and then annulled a couple of hours later when we got into an argument during art class. It culminated in our sitting in the principal’s office, dripping blue paint, waiting for our mom’s to bring us clean clothes.”
June and Oliver start debating the Great Question of High School: Are these the best times (or at least significant and important times) of our lives or are they a placeholder while we wait for the “real” world to allow us to join it at the grown up table. It actually is an interesting question. I know that I was with June on this one when I was in High School. I didn’t hate it. I wasn’t bullied. But I was so busy being self-conscious and shy that I really didn’t experience many of the “typical” high school moments. I think that there is something to be said for being fully invested in the moment that you happen to be in rather than waiting for life to happen.
June dislikes Oliver. Or at least June dislikes who she things Oliver is. Predictably, they start to get closer as they get to know one another on their daily commute. June has a boyfriend and, of course, Oliver has a girlfriend. This leaves them in the gray area of being “just friends” while pining for one another. Yeah, maybe I didn’t miss much in high school… Cue months of misunderstandings, longing looks, and secondary characters constantly asking what is up with them. And since there are very short flash forwards to Prom it isn’t as if the outcome is really much of a surprise.
I found the music motif pretty tired in YA so in order for it not to be cliché and boring an author really has to have unique take on it or at least make the music feel vibrant. Sadly, this was a fail. I can think of half a dozen books off the top of my head that did it better.
What I did like was the exploration of the idea that everyone, no matter how cliché or predictable they may seem, has hidden depths and is much more complicated than they might seem on the surface. I also thought that the writing was quite good. Although, I did not love Shuffle, Repeat I will most likely try a different book by this author.
When Harry Met Sally for YA romance readers. This opposites-attract love story is perfect for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han.
June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.
Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.
Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it.