Title: Chasing Lucky
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance
Publication Date: November 10th from Simon Pulse (Changed from May 5th)
Format: Kindle ARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads Synopsis: Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.
What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.
Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…
Sadly, this book has now moved its publication date from May to November due to the COVID-19 going on right now. The author announced it via Twitter this past week. But I still hope you guys will have it on your TBR and enjoy it when it does come out. I was so excited to learn about Jenn Bennett’s new book after loving both Serious Moonlight and The Lady Rogue. This was a sweet book about giving a friend a second chance and trying to chase your own dreams. While this wasn’t a 5 star book for me, this was still a book I needed with all that’s going on. Here’s the breakdown of my thoughts:
- Setting: This new book takes place in the small town of Beauty, where Josie and her mom left 5 years ago after a huge family fight. Josie’s grandmother runs a bookshop called The Nook and she and her mother are running the store while the grandmother and aunt are teaching English in Nepal. Sadly, Josie’s family doesn’t have the best reputation in this small town and things go wrong fast once they return. But I loved this little town, with the nods to its Revolutionary War history, boat shops, small buildings and the warm summer atmosphere. This was almost like a little vacation every time I read this book.
- Lucky Karras: Oh man this boy was awesome! His family is of Greek heritage and he was Josie’s childhood best friend. But when she comes back to town, he has changed and both of them aren’t sure on how to approach each other. After Josie left, their friendship was really strained and complicated and I liked seeing how the author explored that. Lucky had suffered a childhood trauma, as well as the things he does to himself and he’s viewed as the token bad boy of the town. But I loved how he grew as a person and especially how he treated Josie. While he cares for her, he does remind her that she’s not doing the right thing or hurting him and his anger was understandable at times. While I wish he was a bit more of a central character, he was a great character.
- Josie’s family dynamics: This became another highlight to me in the book. Josie has a broken and complicated family, with her mother not being able to stand her own mother and be called a harlot by the townspeople of Beauty. Josie and her mother constantly moved around over the years and Josie has never felt like she can trust or open up to her mother. Sadly, Josie isn’t always a likable character, but she is a product of family problems and her mother’s own mistakes that keep haunting them. When they come back to Beauty, there’s the bit of mystery of what will happen when her grandmother returns and Josie discovers some secrets which were some surprises. But I really loved how the author really shows how families can seem broken but that there’s always hope to fix it.
- Writing Style: Jenn Bennett continues to show her talent for prose. She doesn’t sugar coat how some teens are angry, lonely, not sure how to handle their situation but also the hope of wanting something better. Josie and Lucky are two people are both needing something and as their friendship turns into something more, you really see how they are better in some ways around each other. But they’re relationship wasn’t completely perfect and I appreciated that; they keep secrets, they’re afraid to tell their true feelings, have false assumptions, etc. and Bennett shows the consequences of people’s mistakes. But I was rooting for this couple the whole time and I loved how their romance developed.
- Pacing: For me personally, I do think this book did drag in a couple places. I can have a hard time believing that most YA contemporary books are 400 pages or longer. Bennett’s books do tend to be in that 400 page length and that’s usually a small flaw I have with them. This book could’ve been about 50-60 pages shorter to tighten the plot. A few things that happened at the end could’ve happened sooner to feel more balanced.
- Too easily wrapped up: I also wasn’t thrilled that a few story threads were too easily dealt with. There’s a rich boy in town that causes some major problems and the way he was dealt with wasn’t well done. I wanted a more realistic way to deal with the really bad things he did. Then, some of Josie’s family dynamics were also too easily settled at the end. It was a few simple conversations and that was it, which I couldn’t completely get behind. With how deep their problems went, it takes a lot of work to mend family problems. I wish the end was more focused on Josie’s family trying to honestly try to be better.
Overall: This was another fun and enjoyable contemporary with complicated family relationships and a sweet romance. It was almost a 4 star read but not quite. I still recommend this book and hope you guys enjoy it!
Rating: .75 stars
Have you read this yet? If so, did you like it? What other Jenn Bennett books do you like? Let me know in the comments!