The Story of Us

390p. S & S/Pulse. Apr. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2346-6; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2348-0. LC number unavailable.
Gr 9 Up—As her family gathers at an isolated bed-and-breakfast to celebrate her mom's marriage, Cricket has a lot on her mind. Her mother is not known for sticking with relationships; will she make it to the altar? The teen has been accepted to two colleges, one close, one far away; which to choose? And, weighing most heavily on her, she did something terrible to her longtime love, Janssen. This may mean the end of their steady, sturdy, wonderful relationship. As wacky wedding high jinks ensue, Cricket writes emails to Janssen, trying to sort through her feelings and determine whether getting back together is what she wants after all. Caletti tosses readers into a story that is fast paced from the get-go, trusting that they can keep up. Cricket is very appealing. Her concerns about life's changes feel real; her relationships with her mom and brother are loving and honest; and her memories of her abusive father are scary, but now held at a safe distance. Caletti shows how a rough childhood made Cricket who she is today, but the novel focuses on other, more present concerns. The week leading up to the wedding speeds along, and, in the aftermath, when the narrative suddenly covers months, readers may feel whiplash from the change of pace. But the center holds, and the author makes readers care about Cricket and her family. A thoughtful and enjoyable book with a bit more meat than many other relationship stories.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Seventeen-year-old Cricket, whose mom is getting married, spends a memorable week at a beach house with a plethora of family and soon-to-be family, friends, and dogs. The story is driven by meticulously delineated and authentically imperfect characters and sharp, clever Gilmore Girls–esque dialogue. Cricket's first-person narration is mature, and her observations about life ring true.
Seventeen-year-old Cricket tells us right away how much she hates change. "Hated it, and was bad at it." Unfortunately, she can’t avoid it. Cricket’s mom is getting married, college looms, and Cricket and longtime boyfriend Janssen are in an ambiguous "relationship waiting room." But before the future happens, Cricket and a plethora of family and soon-to-be family, friends, and dogs are spending a week at a Washington State beach house. It’s a memorable week, characterized by celebrations, fights, budding romance, awkward moments, and, despite Cricket’s worst fears, a wedding. Interspersed with the action are Cricket’s letters to Janssen, in which she wistfully recalls the trajectory of their relationship and tries to explain why they aren’t, and perhaps can’t be, together. The story is driven by meticulously delineated and authentically imperfect characters -- even Jupiter, Cricket’s elderly beagle, has a personality all her own -- and sharp, clever Gilmore Girls-esque dialogue. Cricket’s first-person narration is mature and (sometimes excessively) self-aware; her observations about the nature of family, friendship, and the canine/human connection ring true. Sure, change is imminent, but readers joining Cricket in the achingly painful process of growing up will be reassured by her conclusion that love -- "deep and endless and brave in the face of certain loss" -- makes that dreaded uncertainty bearable. rachel l. smith

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