Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
This is the first title I downloaded from Edelweiss, which is a bomb service for book reviewers. It’s a bit similar to NetGalley, and all awesome. So I was pumped when I got access to “The Promise of Amazing,” especially because it’s Constantine’s first novel, which brings me back to my beginnings as a book blogger.
“The Promise of Amazing” is told from the both Wren’s and Grayson’s points of view (which you know I love). It takes place in New Jersey, where Wren attends an all-girls high school and feels woefully average. Can I just say, that being from an all-girls Catholic high school, I know what it’s like. I know how the girls act and what it feels like to be “average” in a school of overachievers. And Constantine got it SO right! I totally loved reading this book because it was so close to my experience, so relatable and so real, not just for me, but for all girls, I think. Her friends, Maddie and Jazz, are typical girl characters, Maddie’s a feisty risk-taker who loves the men, and Jazz is a thoughtful, healthy, and kind girl with big dreams.
Grayson, on the other hand, got kicked out of Wren’s brother school and found himself shlepping along with the “public school scrubs” (Maddie’s words not mine, but she was joking :). When they meet, they both have these deep, monumental moments of clarity and Grayson decides to chase after that, which is really where the story begins.
I liked “The Promise of Amazing” so much because, though it sounded like a typical teenage love story, it really wasn’t. It was straight up hilarious. I found myself cracking up at least once a chapter and Constantine was really great at using descriptive language. She wrote these great descriptions of food, which sounds like a weird thing to notice, but they really brought her novel to the next level. They added dimension and flavor (literally and figuratively) and they were very thoughtful. Like, Jazz eats sandwiches made on sprouted grain bread with lean protein. That makes sense because she’s training to run a marathon. But, when hanging out with Wren, they pig out on Double Chocolate Milanos, so you know that she’s not crazy intense about what she eats. I mean, just from those two descriptions, you have an idea of Jazz’s character. That’s just one example, there are a bunch more, especially with Wren and Grayson.
For me, this book was nostalgic to read. It made me want to go back to high school and sit in the cafeteria with my girlfriends, eating lunch and gossiping. It was such a great twist on a high school romance story, with a huge, and lovely, dependence on the friendships that shape our lives and the comfort of family. Grayson is a different kind of leading male, with secrets and mystery, and a different sort of family. I like Constantine’s decision to make him from an unconventional family. Otherwise, the story may have come off as kind of cookie-cutter. By giving him his own drama, she made the book more readable for people from all backgrounds. And she made him more lovable.
I delayed finishing it because I loved it so much that I never wanted it to end! It is definitely a must-read.
“The Promise of Amazing” comes out December 31, 2013.
8 out of 10!