REVIEW: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

From Goodreads:

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another 22011484divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?

The back cover copy of Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu really convinced my that I would not like it. I am not a huge fan of supposedly intoxicating summer stories, just because they’re usually cliched and riddled with stereotypes. Making Pretty has a lot of that going on, especially with its crazy first relationship and friend drama.

Montana’s story is one about love and friendship, but it’s an even more thorough commentary on her family, how it’s cracked and different and okay.

The only parts in the book that I truly enjoyed are her family moments. I thought the love interest was overdone and a little bit too cheesy for my taste. The tension between Montana and Karissa is pretty interesting and kept me flipping pages. But the family moments, they are the most honest and intriguing.

Making Pretty definitely is not one of my favorite books of the year, but I still enjoyed it. Haydu has excellent one-liners and is really great at setting the scene in unexpected ways. If you are a fan of summer stories or New York stories and have some time on your hands, definitely check this out.

Review: Everything that Makes You by Moriah McStay

From Goodreads:

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent 21795576McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

I’m going back to my roots with Moriah McStay’s debut novel, Everything that Makes You. You all know I love a good debut book and this one is no exception. I recently received this and three other novels (reviews to come), but this is the first one I read. And I read it in approximately 4 hours.

It’s an intriguing premise — one girl, two stories. I think a lot about what might have happened if I had chosen differently for myself. To imagine what might have been is something we all do, I think. McStay makes a study of what might have been in Everything that Makes You.

The two dueling stories seem to ask how one moment can affect the rest of your life. How strong is that effect? Does it really matter? McStay attempts to answer those seemingly unanswerable questions with Fiona Doyle. The two Fiona Doyles, one meek and scared, one strong and confident. And then one thing flips them around and makes each the opposite.

It’s a thoughtful story and one that left me thinking for a couple days. I’m not sure what conclusion McStay drew from her book. But I think that question mark is part of the point. We don’t get to decide what happens to us, but we can decide who to be and what to chase. That’s sort of what I got from the book.

On top of that, it was beautifully written. The book is poised and purposeful and mature, with a sort of smoothness about it. The characters were full and well-developed. My favorite is her brother. That’s a relationship we don’t see much in this genre, unfortunately.

If you’re looking for a smart and interesting quick read, check this out!