Published by HarperTeen on June 30, 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.
Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.
Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.
Between Us and the Moon? More Like Gag Me With a Spoon
This book. I almost couldn’t handle it but I made it through. Saying that, I made it through with excessive eye-rolling, scoffing, and just overall a large amount of annoyance. I hate this book. I just do. Mostly because of the main character, but there are other reasons as well. It’s just problematic, and cliché, and have I mentioned annoying? So let’s talk about why I hated this book so very, very much.
ATTENTION: This review contains a lot of snarkiness…so prepare yourself.
The Cliché-ness of it all
Is there a noun to describe the cliché-ness of something? Because I’m pretty sure cliché-ness is not a word. *Pause while I Google profusely* Okay, it’s not a word and I don’t know what would replace it. But I’m an English major, and they say that if you know the rules, you can break them artistically. So, here I am, using cliché-ness as a word. Because I’m an artist. Just kidding, but still going to use that word. Sorry, getting off-track.
This entire book was a cliché and has been done before. From the moment I met a lot of the characters, I knew instantly what was going to happen because it was. just. that. obvious. Literally, I listed them on a post-it note (on page 37):
Brainiac Main Character: Literally only thinks about school but will soon try to break out of that shell and become the person she really is on the inside (*cue eyeroll*)
Popular Sister: The girl who is the complete opposite of Brainiac MC. They’ll pretend to hate each other but then realize that the MC really just wants to be her sister, and that the sister really does love the MC.
Mom: Overly-involved and naggy (again, not a word. Again, I’m using it anyways).
Dad: Has absolutely no idea what’s going on.
And this was even before Sarah, the main character, met her love interest, who was also insanely cliché. Listen to this from the moment they first laid eyes on each other (*cue another eyeroll*):
A group of boys in a Jeep Wrangler drive by and stop at the end of the line of cars waiting to pay and park. Sitting in the backseat is a blond guy who has his arms out resting on both of the empty seats beside him. His back is very defined. Maybe he’s a swimmer? He turns his head to me, but he’s wearing Aviator sunglasses so I can’t verify if he’s looking at me. It’s possible he’s interested in the various foliage growing on the roadside. That kind of guy would check out Scarlett, not me. I walk a bit but keep pace with the slow creep of the Jeep. He keeps glancing over and smiles…
“As they speed away, my guy, the one in the back, tips his chin to the sky as if he were more interested in the warmth on his face than the girls sitting by his side.
I can respect that.”
Obviously, he’s the love interest and obviously, she’s going to be the “quirky” girl who’s just so different from all the other girls he’s ever known. Am I supposed to sigh here? Swoon perhaps?
Bah, I’m getting so heated about this. I can’t handle it.
And besides the characters, let’s talk about the cliché-ness of the plot. Sarah is super smart and loves astronomy and that’s awesome. Her boyfriend breaks up with her at the end of the school year, right before her family leaves to their aunt’s summer home for the rest of the summer. There, Sarah decides to do an “experiment,” where she acts like her sister to get attention. Mostly just to see if boys will like her. And from the moment she just acts not like herself. She calls it “The Scarlett Experiment.” She says she’s eighteen and that she’s going to MIT in the fall. She does things she’s never done before just because, you know, she’s letting go. And she falls in love with a boy. Only to realize, of course, that she’s swimming in a deep pool of her own lies. But, you know, she’s found her true self in the process. The “real” Sarah. Because only if you lie about yourself incessantly for months at a time, both to friends, family, and lovers, will you find who you truly are.
Gah, I hope you’re reading this as sarcastically as it’s sounding in my head.
And, finally, there’s the cliché personal essay that she struggles with throughout the entire book. It’s for an Astronomy scholarship that she’s been working towards for almost a year. But she just can’t get that dratted personal essay completed. It’s supposed to be about who she is as a scientist. And, of course, at the beginning of the novel, she just doesn’t know who that is. It’s not like she’s been a scientist since she was little or anything. (*cue eyeroll*) View Spoiler »So throughout the entire novel, she struggles and struggles. She puts it off and shoves it to the corner of her mind. Because she’ll do it later. And then she ends up writing it like two days before it’s due. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. A scholarship application that you’ve been working on for a year and you write the essay two days before. As an English major, I scoff at this. That essay would be awful compared to the rest of her research and work. « Hide Spoiler
Um, hello? This is problematic on more than one level.
Let’s talk about this. So. I just cannot stand this girl. Sarah is literally the worst ever. SHE LIES THE ENTIRE SUMMER. Like, get over yourself. If this boy really loved you, he’d love you whether you were sixteen or eighteen. And, if he can’t love a sixteen-year-old, then get over it. Find someone your age who isn’t just barely legally allowed to be with you. There were so many moments where she almost told him, where she should have told him the truth. BUT SHE JUST DIDN’T. Despite all the crap he’d been through, she just kept lying. With a little smile on her face because she didn’t want him to break up with her.
She’s just the worst. And she’s super pretentious. That was actually the first thing I noted while reading. “Gah, she’s so pretentious!” And I was hoping she’d get over it as the book went on. And she kind of does, don’t get me wrong. But mostly not. She’s smart, yes. But does she have to act like a jerky know-it-all around everyone she interacts with? Apparently, yes.
And, finally, I hate that she “finds herself” while living a lie. I absolutely 100% hate that. I think the point of it is that she’s living outside of her comfort zone and that’s where she can truly find herself, learn who she is, stuff like that. But living outside of your comfort zone is quite different than just pretending to be someone you’re not. She’s smart, she’s into science, she’s in a lot of academic clubs. She’s been dating this other guy Tucker for years. She doesn’t drink. She has never had sex. She has huge aspirations and goals for herself. That’s a big part of who she is. And though the science remains a part of her, it’s a part she kind of squashes down because there’s a hot guy around. She forgets about her goals because there’s a hot guy around. I’m all for living outside your comfort zone and learning new things about yourself…but forgetting who you are to get there? Erm, no.
Speaking of forgetting about who you are…she also just forgets about her friends. Which bothers me. First there’s her best friend from high school, Ettie. Who Sarah openly says she doesn’t want to talk to because then she’d have to tell her how old Andrew, her lover boy, really is. So she just doesn’t talk to her. And then there’s Claudia, a girl Sarah meets this summer and describes as someone she could see being friends forever with. Except we get like two scenes with Claudia and that’s it. Um, okay? I love seeing the development of friendships in YA novels because it’s something that’s so important. But when friendship is just a side-note to the real main-attraction (aka previously-mentioned hot guy), I hate it. It doesn’t seem real, like it was just thrown in there in the editing process to make Sarah seem not-so-hot-guy-obsessed.
Really? Really? Please Just Gag Me With a Spoon.
So, overall, I just hated this book. I hated the main character, I hated most of the side characters. I actually did like that she was an Astronomy nerd because it’s something I’ve never seen before (and I’m taking an Astronomy class right now and dying so I totally admire her for that). But that’s basically the only thing that I actually liked. I thought the message was problematic – that you can lie to yourself and everyone around you and come out the better person for it – and that the characters and plotline were completely and utterly clichéd.
[And another note, I thought it was unnecessarily graphic in some parts. And I know that’s just me. Just my personal own little self. But I was for sure uncomfortable in some parts, which makes me sound like a prude but I don’t really care. I almost put it down a few times for this reason (and for the fifty billion other reasons stated above), but I was reading it for a Romance book for my YA lit class and I was already more than halfway through, so I pushed on.]
So, yep, that’s all I have to say about that. *tries to calm down*