Abbreviations #131: I Wanna Be Where You Are, When You Were Everything + Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

May 6, 2021


I’m always down for a road trip story, and I Wanna Be Where You Are is one that’s been on my radar for some time. Chloe dreams of being a ballerina and is willing to do whatever she must in order to pursue her ambition… including taking an unsanctioned road trip to audition for her dream ballet company. Her well-laid plans go almost immediately awry when her neighbor-slash-former-best-friend Eli threatens to reveal her secret trip if she doesn’t give him (and his dog Geezer) a ride down to see his dad. But will this road trip turn out to be taking her in the right direction after all? I Wanna Be Where You Are was delightful. As promised, it’s filled with road trip shenanigans (the good, the bad and the totally unexpected) that soothed my own craving to be on the road and traveling somewhere new. Chloe is likable, as are Eli, Geezer and the other individuals we meet along the way, and it was all too easy to get swept up and hope for everything to fall into place. While the novel is mostly lighthearted, it doesn’t diminish at all the emotional impact of the things that Chloe (and Eli) need to confront when it comes to themselves, their futures and their families. And I really appreciated that! In sum, I Wanna Be Where You Are was the wonderful YA contemporary read I expected it to be. (I actually listened to this one on audiobook! The narrator was good, though certainly not a standout.)

Pub Info: June 4, 2019 by Roaring Brook Press | Add it on Goodreads


When You Were Everything
centers around Cleo, who hasn’t spoken to her ex-best friend Layla in almost a month and who is determined to erase every memory they’ve ever made together. Alternating between the past and the present timelines, readers learn exactly what led to their friendship falling apart and the fallout that occurs afterwards. Now, when I heard that When You Were Everything was a friendship break-up story, my interest was immediately piqued since I’ve gone through my fair share of those in real life. Ashley Woodfolk certainly delivered on that front, depicting Cleo’s emotional journey with raw, unflinching honesty. Woodfolk doesn’t pull the punches when it came to the heavy emotions (especially sorrow, hurt and anger), the subsequent reactions (withdrawal, reluctance and cynicism) and the eventual realizations that Cleo comes to by the end of this story. I liked the New York setting, the Shakespearean references, the solid supporting cast and themes a lot. The only part of the story that didn’t work for me was the teen drama surrounding spilling secrets that aren’t yours to tell and fueling unfounded rumors; it really diminished the emotional impact the rest of the story had on me, though I do see the way it impacted the overall tale. But overall, When You Were Everything came together really well, and I can recommend checking it out if the story sounds like your cup of tea.

Pub Info: March 10, 2020 by Delacorte Press | Add it on Goodreads


Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything
centers around Sia, an angry, grieving young woman who is still grappling with her mother’s disappearance. She clings to the familiarity of her traditions for comfort as she tries to find a way to make peace with what’s happened… until the night that a spacecraft crashes nearby and her very much alive mother is in it. Dangerous people with powerful secrets are after her, and it’s up to Sia and company to find a way for her mom to stay safe. This YA novel isn’t quite like anything I’ve read recently, mostly because I don’t generally gravitate towards novels with aliens. But the author did a lovely job blending one girl’s personal experience grappling with her emotions and circumstances, the cultural traditions essential to her family, the complicated relationships she has with friends, family and foes, and an exploration of immigration through the lens of literal aliens. It took time to really get hooked on this story, and it also took a considerable number of chapters before I started feeling for prickly Sia who has all her walls up to hide the deep vulnerability she feels. But once she’s reunited with her mother, things definitely start to pick up and I was rushing headlong towards the ending along with these characters. It was an interesting novel, and I’m glad I gave it a shot. (I actually listened to this one on audiobook, thanks to the lovely folks at Libro.FM. The narrator was good, though not a standout.)

Pub Info: August 11, 2020 by Simon Pulse | Add it on Goodreads

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