ARC Review: “What She Wanted” by Julie Anne Lindsey

I’m shocking myself by the amount of contemporary YA fiction I’m reading right now. I’m tentatively exploring the genre, trying to find some goods books, since it’s one of my least read sub-genre in YA.

So when I came across this lovely (I mean, that cover says a lot) on Netgalley, I immediately requested a copy and a lucky chosen one!

Thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

what she wanted

Title: What She Wanted
Author: Julie Anne Lindsey
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Expected release date: July 19, 2016
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Length: 350 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “It seems Katy has been waiting for her eighteenth birthday all her life. Raised by a grandfather who never got over losing Katy’s mother to cancer at a young age, she’s dreamed of a life free of the burdens of her family’s tragedies. But just before her birthday, she learns tragedy isn’t finished telling its story . . .
Before she can begin her new life, Katy’s grandfather suffers a heart attack, a box of her mother’s keepsakes, including a journal written to Katy while she was in her mother’s womb, at his side. Believing the only thing her grandpa loves enough to live for is her mother’s memory, Katy reads to him from the journal every night at the hospital. Night after night, line after line, Katy begins to see herself as her mother saw her in her dreams. Buoyed by her mother’s undying love and conviction, Katy vows to make her mother’s sacrifice mean something and promises to fulfill all her mother’s requests. Even the hard ones. Especially those…”

My rating: 3/5  stars

It’s true. I found this just average. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it was just…average.

The writing was average. Nothing spectacular or noteworthy, nothing that stood out on the page. The characters were…okay. They weren’t deep and everything just seemed a bit surface level. The romance was mediocre. The author tried to put in some heated moments between Katy, the main character, and her love interest, Dean, but it fell flat for me. It was cliché and I ended up rolling my eyes on some parts.

A lot of moments were predictable too. Of course, the love interest would actually be interested in the main character. I will admit that it’s in a cute way but it just screams summer romance and the unsureness of lasting long, despite whatever Dean says.

I wanted more of Katy’s mother’s journal. We only got maybe…2 pages worth of a journal. If it’s so important to Mark, Katy’s grandfather, I wish we were able to explore that more. The list Katy’s mother, Amy, left for Katy is endearing but we don’t really get Katy formally checking things off the list.

I can appreciate the apprehension Katy had throughout the novel. Her resentment towards Mark was hard to understand, in a sense, because I just felt there was so much more left to be explored about their relationship outside of some surface level details. I didn’t know a lot about Mark outside of his hurt. What was he like before all that? And if he’s so hateful, what was he like to Katy when she was younger?

What I do like is the strong friendship between Katy and Heidi. Heidi was definitely the comic relief. Their friendship is something a lot of girls strive for (at least, they should), though I will say there were some times I rolled my eyes at her comments towards Dean. It’s just a put off when she comments about his body or her desire for him to take off his shirt. It’s okay, we get that Dean looks good but there’s more to a person than that. Katy explores it a bit but his dreams for college just felt…sort of thrown in there so the readers realized, yeah, he’s not all “hot body” but he has brains, too.

Katy lives in a town with a strong sense of community. They rally around her when she needs them. It’s a small town so we get all the small town vibes: downtown parades, football scrimmages, town-wide cookouts as a send-off. It’s quite nice.

Katy wrestles with a lot of things over the course of just a few months. She handles it relatively well, facing some things head on, but man, I was so tired of her crying. Maybe that sounds too harsh because there are most likely people who just cry to let out steam or their frustration and this might have been the case with her but man, there could have been less crying.

I think with some more character development, going beyond surface level, and a bit more resolution, this could be a solid book for other readers who enjoy contemporary YA novels. This is a perfect summer read though. It screams high school teenagers.

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