October 4, 2017

Made These Memories for Ourselves • Top Ten

Ryan McCullough - an easygoing jock who loves parties and a good time. Gabby Hart - an introvert with anxiety who enjoys her small social circle's company. The two teens are as different as night and day, but for some reason, their friendship works. As the future post high school looms before them, Cotugno allows readers to explore ten of the most significant moments in Gabby & Ryan's relationship - good, bad and everything in between.

Top Ten book cover
Plot? I honestly had no idea what the plot actually was when I picked this one up! I just knew it was a Katie Cotugno story, and I genuinely wanted to read another one of her books. It sounds super fluffy and cute to say that this novel is about the "top" ten moments in their relationship. In reality, Top Ten is actually about ten of the defining moments of Gabby & Ryan's relationship - and those moments aren't always necessarily happy or fun. Cotugno weaves in complications of all sorts - life, relationships, other folks, personal struggles - but focuses primarily on the relationship, which I thought was an interesting way to tackle the story.

Characters? I liked Gabby and Ryan well enough, but I never truly felt like I got to know either one of them in a way that would have made me feel more invested in the outcome of their story. Ryan was a decent guy, and I feel like I would have been drawn to him in the same way that Gabby was. But Gabby was the one I could relate to just a tiny bit more, simply because a lot of her anxiety-related experiences are very similar (though a lot more intense) to my own. I also enjoyed the periphery characters, though it would have been nice to get to know them a little better too.

Writing? I really love the way that Katie Cotugno always chooses to write about complicated, messy relationships, and how circumstances can change the dynamic of any relationship. Using the top ten 'marker' moments to give the reader a glimpse into Gabby & Ryan's relationship was certainly an unusual approach. On the one hand, it gives the readers a sense that they are seeing the development of the relationship. On the other hand, using only key points distills the relationship down into pieces, which makes it a little more difficult to get emotionally invested. While it wasn't necessarily something I completely loved, I can still admire the choice to write their story that way.

Overall? I wish I'd been a touch more invested in these characters, as that would certainly have made a difference in how I felt about Top Ten overall. But I definitely admired Cotugno's choice for how the story would be told, and I appreciated being able to read another story from her that featured raw, honest, complicated aspects to both Gabby and Ryan's stories. If you're a Cotugno fan, I'd definitely recommend checking this one out! If you're new to her stuff however, I'd recommend checking out How to Love and 99 Days first.

Five moments from high school? Ah, high school! I have a lot of fond memories from high school, but here are five of my favorites: 1) writing and filming a horror movie for English class, 2) sitting in two whole rows of desks with my best friends and passing my fan fiction around, 3) going with my youth group to camp out for a weekend up in the mountains, 4) getting the chance to meet some of my favorite Filipino celebrities and 5) putting on a play with my entire batch under the guidance of one of my favorite teachers in the whole entire world.

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)


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