Rosaline Caplet lives in South California with her parents and she's a senior at San Bellaro High School which she attends with her best friends Charlie, Olivia and Rob. Rose hasn't seen Rob in 8 weeks but it's the first day back at school and she's nervous about seeing again as she's realised she has feelings for him and there's a chance he feels the same way about her. But then her cousin, Juliet, returns to town and moves in on Rob, leaving Rose heartbroken.
When You Were Mine by Rebeca Searle is written from Rose's perspective. I found her to be smart, self-aware, responsible and listening to her tell her story hooked me completely, especially as the blurb gives away the fact that everything is not going to go as she planned. She and Rob have grown up next door to each other but it's only in the last two months that she's realised she likes him more than a friend and she can already imagine them going to college, ending up together and I really wanted that for her.
Rose and Rob are so sweet together, they know each other so well, have a whole lifetime of shared memories, they seem perfect for each other. I loved how awkward their first date was, even though they have spent so much time with each other.
But then just as things are moving along for Rose and Rob, her extended family returns to town. Rose hasn't seen Juliet since they were little kids, they used to be as close as sisters. But then there was a disagreement between Rose and Juliet's fathers and Juliet and her parents moved away. Juliet is not friendly to Rose, or Rose's friends and she moves in on Rob immediately and he returns her feelings. I was amazed at how much this book made me feel, at this point I was feeling like Rose, sick to my stomach and sad, so so sad.
Luckily Rose had her two best friends to support her, Charlie and Olive are a big part of her life. They're both gorgeous girls in different ways, Charlie is a red head, Olivia a blonde. Charlie is obsessed with making sure they are the popular group with Rose commenting that Charlie acts as if she's living in a high school movie, which it definitely felt like as I found myself picturing these girls as a combination of Cher/Dionne/Ty from Clueless and the girls from Mean Girls. After a few descriptions of Olivia's physical appearance and personality I could not stop picturing her as Karen from Mean Girls and I found this book a lot of fun from that aspect, you know apart from all the heartbreak! They're also the kind of girls who are a little mean, Charlie makes up mean nicknames for some of their classmates and refers to another as a slut and while I never like hearing anyone called those sort of things, I felt it was true to Charlie's character and to teenage girls in general. Charlie would be a fantastic friend to you, but she's the kind of girl who isn't welcoming to others.
Since writing my review I've read a couple of others that rated this book a 1 or 2 and gave the reason for this as slut-shaming. I don't think the author was putting her opinions on her characters or saying that calling another girl a slut is ok, but I do think it's a typical part of high school and felt true to the story. I also don't think all the blame can be put on Juliet, I felt equally annoyed at her as I did Rob.
There's also another love interest for Rose in the form of Len. I picked it as soon as we were introduced to mysterious, scruffy, piano-playing Len and I was definitely happy that he was in the picture and kept hoping Rose would start treating him better than she did.
Even though the ending might seem quite obvious as this is a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, I was still wondering throughout the story about how it would come about and so I was still surprised when the ending hit. It was sad and I felt for Rose who took on some of the blame even though it wasn't her fault.
When You Were Mine is a beautiful, sad and bittersweet story of teenagers and first loves. I know it will be a hit for fans of contemporary YA and YA romance. It's available online and in local book stores.
My copy of When You Were Mine was sent to me for review from the lovely people at Simon and Schuster Australia.