January 24, 2013
Return To Me by Justina Chen
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Review Source: ARC for review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.
And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what's truly in your heart.
‘Return To Me’ is a borderline new adult story, as it deals with life after high school and is about figuring out your dreams and bringing those dreams into reality. If you’re looking for a book that is action-heavy then ‘Return To Me’ might not be the book for you. Justina Chen’s novels are very character based, and this is no exception. It’s really based on Reb’s emotional struggles as she tries to figure out who she is and what her place in life is. The book is very emotionally honest dealing with growing up, having your family fall apart, and learning how to trust both others and yourself. One aspect of the book I found especially interesting was examining the people that you know and/or love, and seeing whether they actually are the person you think they are.
I loved how Reb had a fascination with treehouses: it was a cool and unique detail, and I enjoyed looking through her eyes to see how she viewed things, and how she imagined the spaces she wanted to create for people. I was also intrigued by the bit of magical realism where the women in Reb’s family had types of visions or premonitions that came true. It gave the book a bit of whimsy that you could either take as an exaggeration or accept as a bit of fantasy added in.
The book ties up with an epilogue that I initially debated over whether I thought it was necessary. I liked it, though, because it didn’t tie everything neatly into a bow but it did bring things together and leave me with a sense of hope. Justina Chen is a gorgeous writer who knows how to bring readers on an emotional journey along with her characters. Overall I really enjoyed this examination of family and of self.
It's so simple but pretty -- I really like it.
Find Return To Me by Justina Chen on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.