If you’ve ever wanted to read a romantic story featuring two completely normal, well-adjusted people, look no further because this is the book for youIf you’ve ever wanted to read a romantic story featuring two completely normal, well-adjusted people, look no further because this is the book for you. Wes and June are average suburban middle-class teenagers; they don’t have any dark secrets, troubled pasts, abusive families, addictions, jealous exes, or any of the other Big Problems™ that are typical of so many YA and adult romances (even their parents are still happily married). Neither is really looking for a relationship when they first meet, but to their surprise, as the months go by they find themselves falling in love. Both of them are very likeable characters, and their attraction and relationship feels very realistic and believable; you just can’t help rooting for them. That’s important because this is a character-driven book with not much action, so if they or their relationship had fallen flat it would have sunk the whole thing. Now it’s not a happily-ever-after fairy tale romance – there are obstacles to deal with and they have their ups and downs and bumps and bruises like any couple - but Hautman proves here that Big Problems™ aren’t always necessary to create a compelling story. In fact, one of the things I love is that he puts in those little bumpy moments familiar to any couple - like taking a bad mood out on your partner and having to apologize for it later - but here they're just ordinary, everyday things; Wes and June talk it over, offer apologies where necessary, and move on. With most authors, they'd either a) not write in those moments at all or b) artifically inflate them into massive misunderstandings in order to add Drama. Fortunately, Hautman is too good of a writer to fall into either trap. Speaking of Hautman, this book seems almost atypical for him at first glance. His best work is often wickedly and delightfully subversive, whereas The Big Crunch plays everything straight and delivers exactly what the jacket cover promises, "a love story for people not especially biased towards romance" (like me!). But as I gathered my thoughts about this book, it occurred to me that for a culture where many teens are getting their ideas about love and romance from the likes of Twilight, Jersey Shore, and Gossip Girl, maybe a story about two perfectly normal high schoolers developing a healthy, positive relationship together is the greatest subversion of all. 4.5 stars....more
**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book for about the first 240 pages. I really liked Matt and Katie as characters, and they had good chemist**spoiler alert** I thoroughly enjoyed this book for about the first 240 pages. I really liked Matt and Katie as characters, and they had good chemistry together – this isn’t a relationship that made you roll your eyes and think, "Yeah right, like he'd ever look at her." They live in a world that feels real and believable and lived-in, and the revelations of what's happened to Matt's brother, while coming as no surprise, still resonate.
And then we get to the ending. Where everything that had been built up over the whole book suddenly gets tossed out the window in favor of a Hollywood-style ending. And one that wouldn't even be possible except that Matt and Katie, who up until then have been pretty smart kids, suddenly turn into complete imbeciles. It was a big letdown for me.
This is a five-star book with a one-star ending, so I'll split the difference and give it three stars....more
A simple but heartfelt love story about high school sweethearts dealing with their first year of college and the change and challenge it inevitably brA simple but heartfelt love story about high school sweethearts dealing with their first year of college and the change and challenge it inevitably brings to their relationship. This book had a personal connection for me because the college setting is UC Santa Barbara, which is where I went to college, so I was familiar with every campus location that the author (who herself teaches at UCSB) put in the book. This is one I'd recommend for older teens who like a little relationship drama in their books, especially teens who are getting ready for college themselves....more