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June 6, 2021

Better Together by Christine Riccio ~ a Review

by Donna Huber


As a pre-teen, Freaky Friday and The Parent Trap were among my favorite books. When I saw Christine Ricci's new book Better Together described as a cross between the two I was tempted. But I don't really read much young adult novels anymore but then I thought it's summer why not and gave into nostalgia.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Better Together
June 2021; Wednesday Books; 978-1250760067
audio (12h59m ), ebook, print (448 pages); YA rom-com
Eighteen-year-old Siri has sustained a career-ending injury and is at a loss as to what to do now that she no longer has ballet. She is also pretty neurotic and overly dramatic. Her mother sends her to a "find yourself" wilderness retreat in Colorado.

Twenty-year-old Jamie's whole life is a mess. She wants to be a comedienne, yet she has horrible stage fright and cannot make it through her entire 10-minute set. While it is never clear why she is having to sign some kind of social contract with her father and grandmother, one of the stipulations is to attend a "find yourself" wilderness retreat in Colorado.

Jamie and Siri literally run into each other at the camp - in the shower cabin no less. While Jamie knew of Siri's existence, it has been 14 years since she has seen her. On the other hand, Siri has been told that Jamie was her childhood imaginary friend. If she wasn't crazy before this, she definitely believes she has fully cracked now.  It turns out that when their parents divorced and each took a child a la The Parent Trap, that her mother didn't know how to handle Siri's questions and insisted that Jamie was never real.

While similar in looks, they are not identical twins like the characters played by Hayley Mills. So to pull off the switcharoo and fool their parents a bit of Freaky Friday magic has to come into play.

As this is a young adult book and I'm clearly not a young adult, there were some eye-roll moments as the characters are a bit over the top at times in their attitudes and reactions. As they are technically adults, I didn't feel too bad in thinking they needed to grow up. Even though Siri's neurosis at the beginning was a bit much, I liked her more than Jamie. Perhaps Jamie had more childhood trauma as she knew she had been separated from her sister and mother without much explanation and that is why she isn't a very nice person. At least Siri was interested in getting help whereas all Jamie wanted was revenge and to make everyone else as miserable as she was. Siri wanted to see her father to get answers whereas Jamie, who wanted some answers, mostly wanted to see her mother in order to torment/punish her.

Jamie and Siri are named after characters from A Song of Ice and Fire series. Apparently, their parents were huge fans of the book series. But I'm not really sure as they kept referring to "Thrones". I'm not a fan of either the book series or the show, but I've never heard anyone refer to it as Thrones. The show is either referred to as A Game of Thrones or abbreviated GoT and the same goes for the books being referred to by its series name or abbreviated ASoIaF. Fans of the show or books might enjoy the references, but they just moved right past me.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Brittany Pressley and Karissa Vacker. They did a great job - I didn't actually realize there were two narrators until just now when I went to look up the name. The characters had distinct voices and I couldn't tell when the story switched to the other narrator unlike I can sometimes in books read by multiple people.

As a pre-teen/young teen, I would have enjoyed Better Together. As an adult, I felt it was an entertaining summer read that I didn't have to follow closely to know what was happening in the story. It would be a good book to share as a family - either reading it together in the evenings or listening to it in the car while on a family vacation.

Buy Better Together at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.


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1 comments:

  1. Loved parent trap--I'll still watch both versions of that story from time to time. I think its because I've had to go back and forth between families as a kid. I hope you read even more YA!

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