Ah, Maureen Johnson.
When life has got you down, or you need a bit of a pick-me-up after that really depressing novel, to whom else do you turn to provide a distraction? (Well, there are others, but since this is a review of Maureen Johnson’s book, we’ll just assume that she’s the best at it.)
I would say that this story is much like many other YA romances: Clio, 17 years old, plucky artist, has a crush on Ollie, who works at the local art store. What better way to get close to him than to work at the same store for the summer? Except fate (and her father) get in the way: her dad proposes that Clio spend the summer with him (and since her mom’s going to be in Kansas — of all places, it’s so horribly boring here — she’s been forced to accept). On a boat. Off the coast of Italy.
Sounds horrid, doesn’t it? To some extent it is; since her parents’ divorce, Clio and her father have been estranged. To help with the pain of … the weirdness of it all … there’s Elsa — stereotypical Scandinavian Beauty: voluptuous, gorgeous, blonde … and nice — to be her friend. And Aiden — stuffy, snarky, Yale-educated — whom she can’t seem to get a handle on. (Even if we all know where it’s headed. Most deliciously headed.)
Sure, the plot’s fairly predictable, and some of the characters are one-dimensional (the overprotective mom, the snobby English workaholic who’s dating her dad, her dad’s super-cool buddy…), but that’s not why we read the books. Or why we like Maureen Johnson. No, we like these books because she captures that sweet romance, that first blush of falling in love, that *sigh* moment absolutely perfectly.
And we all need a little bit of that in our lives once in a while.
Rated: Mild — there are a couple of instances of teenage drinking, but nothing untoward happens (aside from everyone ending up with hangovers)