So, I’m considering changing the name of my blog to: Book Review Catch Up with Sascha Darlington! in which I talk ad nauseum about the books I haven’t reviewed yet and then inundate my blog with said reviews all on one day after like a month of silence.
Yeah, I thought so. Best to stick with the current name and remain ever hopeful that I will never say “catch up” on this blog again. (Not likely, but a girl can hope.)
This afternoon’s review is of a retelling of The Parent Trap, that old Hayley Mills classic (and nods to the Lindsey Lohan version I haven’t seen despite the fact that it had Dennis Quaid in it), called Better Together by Book Tuber, Christine Riccio, who I’d never heard of despite the fact that she’s evidently famous. I’ve just watched a little bit of one of her videos and she seems . . . wired . . . all the puns intended. Anyway, read on for the review.
June 1, 2021
June 2, 2021
Macmillan Young Listeners
Blurb: Jamie’s an aspiring standup comic in Los Angeles with a growing case of stage anxiety.
Siri’s a stunning ballerina from New Jersey nursing a career-changing injury.
They’ve both signed up for the same session at an off the grid Re-Discover Yourself Retreat in Colorado. When they run into each other, their worlds turn upside down.
Jamie and Siri are sisters, torn apart at a young age by their parents’ volatile divorce. They’ve grown up living completely separate lives: Jamie with their Dad and Siri with their Mom. Now, reunited after over a decade apart, they hatch a plot to switch places. It’s time they get to know and confront each of their estranged parents.
With an accidental assist from some fortuitous magic, Jamie arrives in New Jersey, looking to all the world like Siri, and Siri steps off her flight sporting a Jamie glamour.
The sisters unexpectedly find themselves stuck living in each other’s shoes. Soon Siri’s crushing on Jamie’s best friend Dawn. Jamie’s falling for the handsome New Yorker she keeps running into, Zarar. Alongside a parade of hijinks and budding romance, both girls work to navigate their broken family life and the stresses of impending adulthood.
Better Together by Christine Riccio opens with Siri visiting her doctor after week’s of physical therapy, certain that all of her hard work means that she will be able to resume her career as a ballerina, a career she’s dedicated her entire life to. When he tells her that she will never be able to return, she’s beyond heart-broken. What is she going to do now? Against her will, her mother signs her up for a retreat in Colorado where she’ll be able to try to find a new future path.
Jamie has just suffered a stupendous career humiliation, the kind that involves bodily fluids on a stage in front of a crowd due to performance anxiety–the comedic kind. She’s also lost her apartment and must move back with her Dad, but under his conditions, which means signing a contract. One item on that contract is to go to a retreat in Colorado. While it’s not her first choice, Jamie doesn’t really have any choices so she goes.
In the pre-camp scenes, Siri was tolerable, but once she arrived at camp she became a whiny, sullen, self-centered brat that I found myself disliking more and more intensely. I did, however, find her substituting non-slang for cuss slang like excrement for sh*t and intercourse for f*ck to be really funny and might start yelling “INTERCOURSE!” when I’m really, really mad. Books really do provide us with gifts.
In direct contrast (and probably purposefully), Jamie is a hoot. She has faults, many due to bad parenting and bad relationship examples, but she comes across as self-aware, certainly aware enough to begin self-fixing.
Budding romances for the two sisters are handled well and are very cute and probably equate to some of the most enjoyable scenes in th enovel.
There are some cringe-worthy scenes with the parents, but the one thing that holds me back from giving it a really high review is that it just tries to do too much and ends up being too long for what it is. The novel is 448 pages with some passages being a bit long-winded.
The audio version comes in at over 12 hours. Speeding up the voices doesn’t help because then you lose the nuances of the narration. Speaking of the narration, Brittany Pressley continues to be amazing. She really gives Jamie the hilarity and over-the-top qualities needed while Karissa Vacker is also very good. They really made the story come alive.
This one’s a toss up, a familiar cute story well done but too long.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 out of 5 butterflies
we’ll probably add a ladybug to this one