First Lines: You could tell something was different about Juliet the moment she stepped out of that truck.
For all the YA books I read, I almost never read anything by Deb Caletti. But this one caught my attention years ago, and I just finally decided to read it. This is the summer of historical fictions and heartbreaking stories, after all. (Or at least my recently read list will indicate that.)
For Scarlet, there’s never been a problem she can’t fix. It doesn’t matter if that problem is hers, a friend’s, a neighbor’s, or someone’s at school, she’s going to fix it and she loves it. But suddenly Scarlet becomes the center of a problem she can’t fix. Her sister, Juliet, is recently married and pregnant. Now Juliet and her new husband are living at home with Scarlet…and Scarlet finds that she’s fallen in love with Juliet’s husband. Can Scarlet fix this problem? Or is this one problem that just needs to resolve on its own, without Scarlet’s help?
Scarlet is an interesting character. From the age of 3 on, Scarlet has been defined by others as “nice”, “kind”, and “a helper.” She’s embraced that label, and it’s become a part of who she is. She wants to help everyone, even those who don’t want (or don’t actually need) her help. But the ironic twist to her personality is that she’s introverted and mostly friendless. It sounds like it’s a combination that shouldn’t work, but it does. And it makes her more dimensional.
It took a while for me to get used to Caletti’s writing style, though, since I don’t read it much. Scarlet is very introspective, so she’s always explaining her thoughts or using two pages to muddle through some thought she’s had. It gets to be long. But it is good stuff she’s saying, especially this one she had about how introversion is the least understood personality type in high school.
I was worried about the plot, but that actually works better than it sounds. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Juliet’s marriage and pregnancy, but she’s 20, so it wasn’t the teenage pregnancy melodrama I was fearing. That alone creates a lot of drama. Then there’s also the drama from the people Scarlet tries to help. (A couple of those plot lines are actually really funny and work as great comic relief.)
I was somewhat shocked by the emotions in this book. There were times when it was really heartbreaking. I think most of us have had that unobtainable crush that we know we can never ever act on for one reason or another. (Story for another time, my friends.) So we get to relive those wonderful feelings again. It’s not all sad though, but it is an emotional roller coaster at times.
Overall, it was a bit of a surprise with colorful characters and plenty of drama to always keep me interested.