"Isn't this great, munchkin?" Dad said, stepping up beside Sylvia and putting his arm around her. "You kids will have a wonderful time together. Won't this be a fun summer?"
Fun? Fun was not the word I would have chosen. Unbearable, awkward, torturous... Anything but fun.
This was a nightmare.
I was supposed to be at the condo, wasting time on the beach, just Dad and me, figuring out college and my life and spending time together. Instead, I was in a new house with new people - including a future stepbrother who'd seen me naked.
"Well." I sighed, facing my father again. "It will definitely be interesting. That's for sure."
Whitley Johnson's parents divorced when she was 12 and for the past six years Whitley has been living with her mother, forced to listen to the near-constant diatribe against her father. Whitley doesn't understand why her mom can't see she's bashing the same traits Whitely inherited from her dad and hates the fact that her mom never sees how miserable she is. Her friends have all abandoned or betrayed her, her brother is too busy with his wife and their new daughter to call Whitley, and she only gets to see her father in the summer months. The only way Whitley can find to feel happy, even for a moment, is to go out and party. Hard. She gets a reputation for being easy--a highly exaggerated reputation--and drowns her sorrows in tequila as often as possible. She's looking forward to spending the summer at her father's condo and wasting the days tanning, drinking margarita's, and barbequing, but that dream is blown apart when her father takes her instead to small-town suburbia where he has a surprise for her: he's getting married.
That's not even the worst part. The new fiance comes with two kids Nathan and Bailey, and Nathan just happens to be Whitley's most recent one night stand. Suddenly her dream summer is starting to look like a nightmare that Whitley doesn't know how to escape. Her usual outlets aren't readily available and as the daughter of Greg Johnson, one of the area's most popular newscasters, Whitley's mistakes are suddenly worthy of noting... and posting on the internet. Despite her best efforts, Whitley is befriended by Harrison, a local boy, and no matter how hard she tries she can't seem to hate her new stepsister Bailey. As she digs herself deeper and deeper into her own hell, will her new family and friend be able to pull her out before she destroys the first good that's happened to her in years?
Kody Keplinger has done it again. I loved this book. You may not like Whitley, but she is a relatable and sympathetic character I couldn't help hoping would see the light. I may not agree with how she dealt with her issues with her parents, but the dynamics of those relationships struck a serious chord with me--I've seen the damage those kinds of parents can do. Also, I loved getting to know Harrison (who showed up in The DUFF) better and seeing that Wesley and Bianca (also from The DUFF) were still together and baffling outsiders with the apparent oddity of their relationship. The book comes with a PG-13 warning.
Sera's Rating: 9/10