What You Always Wanted is one of the most adorable contemporary young adult novels I've ever read. I feel like there's no way that I'll be able to fully express how enjoyable and well-written this tale was, but I'm going to darn well try! Why? Because everyone needs to get their hands on this one, and read it. Seriously, if you're looking for a new contemporary with a sweet romance, funny moments and a well-balanced set of plot points, What You Always Wanted should definitely be on your radar.
Maddie Brooks has just moved from Chicago to Texas with her family. She's a drama kid, in love with performing on stage, watching classic movies and the man of her dreams, Mr. Gene Kelly. But when she starts carpooling with her neighbor Jesse Morales, she finds herself developing a crush on this star pitcher of the baseball team - even though he's totally not her type. Cue all sorts of shenanigans that happen as Maddie finds her place, makes peace with her family, forms new friendships and perhaps, just maybe, falls in love. This definitely sounds like a plot out of a Disney Channel Original Movie (and there are definitely some moments that made me think of High School Musical), but I'm totally okay with that.
It was all too easy to be draw into Maddie's world, particularly because her story is narrated with just the right amount of dramatic flair, witty asides and thoughtful commentary. I really liked being in her head, and seeing her thoughts on everything. It made for a biased perspective, sure, but since this is Maddie's story, there's honestly no better place to be! Maddie is definitely easy to like; she's the type of gal I would immediately have wanted to be friends with if we had met in high school. I admired that she was so passionate about what she wanted to do, and that she wasn't at all dissuaded from her favorite things just because other people might have their own (not so favorable) opinions. Plus, it was really funny to watch her wrestle with how she felt about Jesse! I mean, were I in her place, I'd probably find myself feeling just as torn up and confused and unsure. And charmed, too. Let's not forget charmed. Basically, Maddie was an excellent narrator and I loved her to pieces.
Apart from a fun plot, a sweet romance and an excellent main character, Rae sprinkles her novel with awesome secondary characters (whether they're meant to be liked or disliked) and some great classical movie references. I was completely drawn into the story, and I never for a moment felt like anything that happened was cheesy or manufactured. I'd definitely recommend picking up this one if you're in the mood for a contemporary YA that's light, but still filled with substance. I was basically a grinning, gooey mess of joy, particularly over some big moments, and I had so much fun reading it!
What is your favorite classic movie?
I'll be honest and tell you guys beforehand that I haven't seen a lot of classic films! I've watched a good number for some of the film analysis classes I took in college, and a few just for fun, but nowhere near as many as Maddie must have. But I can definitely tell you that one of my favorites (and one that I've seen a few times) is Singin' in the Rain. It's just one of the most fun classic films I've ever seen, and like Maddie, I adore Gene Kelly. Plus, that classic scene with him performing Singin' in the Rain is one that I can easily call to mind!
What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only... #8
Publisher: Bloomsbury | Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Source: ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
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?