Sarah Dessen, Jr. CBR8 Review 1.

51+h+LjKIhL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_A few weeks ago, I got my BookBub email of the day, which included this book. The description said, “for fans of Sarah Dessen,” and I said, “hey, I’m a fan of Sarah Dessen. This must be for me.”

And I downloaded it.

Yesterday I read it in pretty much one sitting during all of the football games that were on in my house.

And yes, it had Sarah Dessen-like qualities. But Sarah Dessen is the master, and Robin Benway is just her student. Still learning the ways of Dessen.

It certainly wasn’t a bad book. The characters were fairly well drawn, and the plot was original (mostly). But I felt like part of it had been filled in with a template — add gay character here, insert overbearing parents here, activate first kiss on page 85.

Emmy and Oliver were born on the same day and live next door to each other. Their parents are best friends and so are they. They do everything together for the first 7 years of their lives. Until Oliver is kidnapped by his father and everything changes.

Oliver’s mother begins an all-consuming quest to find him. Emmy’s parents become crazily overprotective. Emmy has nightmares and never quite gets over the hole in her life left by Oliver.

And then, one day, Oliver comes back. Emmy is now a senior in high school. And Oliver isn’t 7 years old anymore. While everyone involved is thrilled to have him home, the transition isn’t easy on any of them. Not his mother (and her new family), not Emmy, not any of their other friends, and not Oliver.

While I bought into a lot of it — Oliver’s pain and confusion about his parents, Emmy & Oliver’s friendship, Oliver’s relationship with his new sisters — I had issues, too. Emmy’s parents were just too much. Her sneaking around and lying about literally everything in her life was just too plot-convenient for me to deal with. Is there a college student in the world that would put up with a 9:00 PM curfew? Please.

But for $1.99 on kindle, I give it a thumbs up. Not a bad way to spend a chilly Sunday. Keep at it, Robin Benway. Maybe someday you’ll grow up to be Sarah Dessen.

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