December 26, 2013

The Promise of Amazing - Robin Constantine

The Promise of Amazing Robin Constantine book cover
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thank you!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

If there's one thing I can say about The Promise of Amazing, it is that it truly lives up to its name. The book definitely contains the promise of an amazing story, but sadly fell short of what I was expecting. Even though I kind of liked Wren and Grayson, and even thought their story was pretty darn cute at times, there was just something about this novel that didn't work for me. (Sidenote: it kind of reminded me of this particular book, though I might have enjoyed this one a smidgen more.)

As mentioned, the characters in this book were kind of likeable. Wren Caswell is a girl looking to find her own place, which is something teens and adults alike will be able to relate to. As someone who enjoys watching people discover the truth about themselves, it was no surprise I liked seeing Wren figure things out, though a lot of those realizations came a bit too conveniently. Plus, I adored her friends - Jazz and Mads - who were the best! Grayson Barrett, on the other hand, almost felt stereotypical: the bad boy who finds something someone that inspires him to be better. This is not to say I didn't like him, because I did - especially when I witnessed how he was around his family. His friends, unlike Wren's, are pretty much jerks.

The story is told from alternate points of view, which gives readers a sense of knowing everything that's happening for Wren, Gray and Wren + Gray together. Their individual stories were pretty compelling, which sort of made up for how quickly these two fell for each other. It's not quite clear whether it's simply a case of insta-lust, serendipity or love at first sight, but the romance certainly happens fast. The book had an odd combination of authenticity in some parts and dramatics in others, particularly towards the ending, which kind of left me feeling confused and a teensy bit irritated.

The story might have had a bit of a heavy hand on the dramatics and sweeping statements; it also somehow managed to be tongue-in-cheek and sweet in a few rare moments. Even though it didn't particularly wow me, The Promise of Amazing was okay.

Which of the three girls - Wren, Jazz or Mads - were you most like in high school?

It's actually pretty difficult to pick between Wren and Jazz in order to answer this question! They're very similar personalities, but the one major difference between them is this: Jazz has an idea of what she wants to do with her life, while Wren isn't sure. And that is why, in the end, I had to choose Wren! In high school, even though I had a set group of friends and interests (like writing and reading and drama club), I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future. I often felt directionless when everyone seemed to know what they should or wanted to do, and that made it hard for me to decide what university I wanted or even what course to take. (Truth? I still feel that way sometimes until now.) Wren also happens to be the quietest one of the three, until she decides it's time she had a voice -- and that was definitely an experience I shared with her.

(As a bonus for this edition of Friends with ARCs, I'm sharing a high school photo with you!)

alexa high school 2005


  1. A friend of mine just finished this and pretty much shared your opinion so it's safe to say I won't be reading it. She told me.there was some weird meet cute with puking involved?
    I rarely read contemprorary as it is so it really needs to be special and this clearly isn't.
    Great review, Alexa.

    1. Actually, the meet cute involved choking. Trust me, it was as unattractive as the puking sounds. It made me so sad that I didn't end up liking this one, as it had sounded so promising when I first heard of it.

  2. I've been hearing not so great things about this book. Somehow it's worse when a book doesn't live up to your expectations that a book that's just bad.

    1. Yes, it's really sad. I wanted to like this one more, but it really just went downhill after the two main characters meet. I mean, if we took Wren out of the story and put her into another one, I actually wouldn't mind that!

  3. Aww man! I had hoped this book would be really good, but your review is one of many I've recently seen that say it falls short. I'll be skipping this one, but you did a great job of explaining some of the reasons it didn't click with you!

    1. I'm glad it came across concisely and honestly! It was really one of the books that I was hoping to fall in love with, but fell short of that love. Very short.

  4. I feel like a lot of people are MEH about The Promise Of Amazing, which idk, I am sad to see but at the same time, I know to go in with lowered expectations so I might end up loving it.

    I like how you describe the title as being a lot like your experience with the book.


    Love the ARCS with friends idea!!!

    1. I'm glad you like our Friends with ARCs idea! It was a fun one born out of a conversation Rachel and I were having one day :)

      True. I'm curious to see how you're going to feel about this one! Perhaps you will like it a little bit more than I did :)

  5. I made it less than half way but still 150 pages and... I just don't have the desire to pick it up again. Wren was an okay character for me, I was really digging Grayson, and I didn't feel their relationship much at all. I think I may end up just passing on the rest of this one even though I wanted to finish it!

    1. It's very difficult to say how I managed to finish this one! I think I ended up thinking that it was like watching some crazy teen movie, and that's how I got through it. Sorry to hear that you weren't able to finish it!

  6. It's funny that you mention that the title fits very well, because while I thought the opposite before (as in it's not amazing at all), you are right. It promises to be amazing, and is not. I think I liked this even less than you did. I thought the characters were frustrating (I liked Wren at first, but then she just turned out to be bland.) and especially Grayson was such a cliché. I still think it's sad that a book with such a cute cover and adorable title ends up being so blegh.

    The friends with arcs idea is so fun! I can definitely relate to what you said: I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life either, and I was quiet like Wren. There's this one thing Wren says in the book that really did something to me - when she says that being quiet is not a flaw, and not something she can just do something about. So true.


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