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Pretty Amy #2

Dear Cassie

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What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

352 pages, Paperback

First published March 5, 2013

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About the author

Lisa Burstein

10 books431 followers
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever, Dear Cassie, Sneaking Candy, The Possibility of Us and Again. As well as a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 118 reviews
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,946 followers
March 23, 2013
Note : Dear Cassie is a companion/follow-up to the book Pretty Amy. I hadn't read PA first and got along fine without having read it, but there was one situation carried over from PA which was never fully recapped and I'd liked to have known more about that situation.

This could possibly be top 5 for endings which have made me say : wait, what?

There was no cliffhanger, and I wouldn't even really call this an open ending. In a sense the ending was good enough. Ben's stunt was ridiculous but it was also a definite attention-getter! However, what happened after the stunt...

it was just...ODD. Pleasantly odd, but still odd.

2.5 stars. As far as "issues" or "troubled teen" books go, this wasn't a standout for me and I've read better. If you're looking for a John Green type of cry-fest, you won't find it here. I failed to get emotional about much of anything.

BUT - there is a BUT here. It appears that everyone else is loving this book but me. There is a good message at the heart of the matter and the message is this :
You need to forgive yourself.

Cassie has lived through a lot and you can tell that she made some decisions without really thinking through how they would have an effect on her in the end, so she's suffering regrets after the fact.

This is not technically a love story, so don't be fooled by the cover. While there is a love interest and a budding romance, the point is not about Cassie finding love with another person - it's about her learning to love herself again. In a way, I think that was the best part of the story. I liked how the romantic lead was there merely for support and not used as a crutch or as the reason for Cassie's road to recovery. Ben really was a wonderful character. He was patient, funny, and honest.

If you like to read books in which a character learns more about themselves as they recover from a rough patch in their life, then you'll probably get more out of the book than I did. Sometimes, quiet reflections and lessons learned make for an absorbing read and there are definitely people who will appreciate what the author is doing here.

What didn't work for me was the camp dynamic. I thought there could have been crazier happenings at the camp if it was going to take so long for Cassie to get to a point where she was willing to open up and examine herself. A lot of what happened for a good portion of the book was of absolutely no interest to me.

The following isn't even a complaint but more of an observation. The chapter headings having the f word in them was kind of ridiculous. Yes, most of us swear. Some of us swear a lot. But I always feel like books are trying too hard to be edgy when we're hit over the head with the language in a way that feels forced or positioned. Conversational words feel more natural. Chapter headings - not so much.

Was this worth the read? I don't have any regrets but I can't say that I'll be pondering this book days after the fact, which is what I tend to look for when I read an issues book. Surprisingly, I went through a similar situation as Cassie, but our outcomes were different. Even though Dear Cassie didn't really push any of my emotional buttons, there were still plenty of lovely and thoughtful moments inside. If the synopsis appeals to you, I say to give it a shot because you might be on the side of all the people who fell in love with the book.
"I think I can make you happy," he said, his eyes on the sky. "I also think you're funny as hell."
"Thanks," I said, "but I'm pretty sure I've never been happy."

Totally random, but the first book I wrote (which will probably never see the light of day) has lead characters named Ben and Cassie. :p

This book provided from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted from the final copy.
Profile Image for Laurynne Gouws.
336 reviews101 followers
March 5, 2013
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I had the luck of getting to review The Next Forever a while back and that was when I discovered the amazing way Lisa Burstein is able to hook you and stuck you right into her books.
I praised The Next Forever and I was certain that Dear Cassie would be just as great. How did I know this?
Well, it's not so much the story that's being told, that has the effect on you... it's has more to do with Lisa Burstein's ability to create amazing characters with her top notch character development, never mind the fact that she can hook you in real deep with the emotional aspects of her tales. I can't say I've never heard of the stories being told, but I can say that from the sniffs and shy smiles I've experienced during both books I've read so far - she sucks you in and boy are you in deep.

Lately, I've been feeling as if I've outgrown young adult... I mean... about time right, since I'm thirty and all lol... but I didn't even realize that this was a young adult at all. It's definitely clean and nothing goes over the young adult mark... but I feel as if maybe it was because Cassie didn't seem like a 17 year old... Ben seemed older too... So I didn't feel as if I was reading about kiddies... except maybe that the hottest thing that actually happened was kissing and the worst shocker was the 'F' word... but overall, it was a mature young adult read.

We follow Cassie... as you probably could have guess... and the book starts out as a diary of sorts, each chapter representing a new day in her correctional 'camp' hell.

There's a secret, but when is there never one... if you are smart enough, you click it pretty soon. The path leading up to the reveal of the 'secret' is vague but not irritatingly so. I liked that. I hate it when authors play cat and mouse with your mind... for pages and pages and then when it breaks, it's not even as dramatic as they made it seem. So in Dear Cassie, I rather liked the way 'it' was brought up, but wasn't mentioned page after page.

What I didn't like, and one of the reason's I'm rating it a four, is because it did seem to have a lot of irrelevant mumbo-jumbo. Especially, if I consider the way it ended - another reason for the four... there was so much to be told within this book, that the ending just suddenly pounced on your and you are left going - that's it? And then going back to see if you didn't miss something, since the entire book was so descriptive and informative, how come the ending didn't go that way?

“What’s his name?” Nez whispered. “Asshole,” I whispered back. “Wick,” Rawe said, her voice exploding out of her like a volcano, “if I say your name one more time . . .” “Jeez Louise,” Nez whispered. “You better make this one.”

Cassie Meet's Ben at 'the camp from hell' and much to Cassie's constant ability to push him away, he hangs tight and keeps trying to break through her shell. It's very sweet... - It's just very sweet, nothing more. I can't say I felt electric currents running across the pages, but it was determined and... sweet - There I go again :)
Profile Image for Gaby.
226 reviews
January 29, 2013
Not at all what I first expect from this and I was pleasantly surprised, a very moving book.

Cassie is the one that narrates her story. It all begins with her at the airport waiting for the people who is supposed to take her to the rehabilitation that was dictated by the court due to her arrest on prom night in which she and her friends: Layla and Amy were arrested for drug possession. But there’s something that happened after that night, something that Cassie doesn’t let herself think of.
But the place they take her is nothing at all of what she expected, she had imagined a sort of spa or anything like that, after all she was going to rehab, right? She ends up in the middle of the forest, Turning Pines Wilderness Camp is essentially that, a camp. And there she’ll have to do activities such as hiking, fishing, learn to start a fire, all without the most basic needs such as a flushing toilet; on top, of that they must keep a daily journal when they are supposed to write about what took them there, their fears, their feelings! this place is a nightmare for her.
She’s not the only one at the camp, there’s two other girls: Nez and Troyer. And there’s also a group of boys, in which is Ben. He shows interest in Cassie and triest to get close to her in spite all the times she rejects him, something happened to her and she’s determined not to be fooled by Ben, she will no longer fall for boys and their words, she can’t allow herself to trust again in anything or in anyone. But against what she wants, Ben starts awakening something in her and she’s terrified, and also het staying in this place is causing for her memories and fears to resurface, nothing good can come of that, it will only make everything worse…
I find this book very intense and I mean it on an emotional level, to know and relieve what Cassie went through was overwhelming. This girl has had such a tough life, both her father and older brother are in the army so she rarely sees them and that only leaves her mother, who is an alcoholic and that means she gets zero attention from her. Cassie has quite a character, she’s aggressive and is always on the defensive, but that’s like her mechanism of survival if you will, if you act cold, cruel and distant is harder for people to hurt you, that time she left her guard down cost her deeply.
Is because of a certain guy that that incident happened, something she doesn’t let herself think of but something for which she can’t stop hurting herself, even her brother, whom she loves and has always been there for here doesn’t know the whole story, she trusts him but even so, she’s incapable of speaking certain things in front of him, she keeps it all to herself… not very encouraging, right?
Staying at the camp isn’t easy, she doesn’t get along with the girls and her instructor isn’t any better and then there’s Ben. I totally loved him, he’s funny, compassionate, and he doesn’t give up, he wants to get close to Cassie and she’s very scared of that, she can’t allow herself to have feelings for anyone and on the course of the book we get to know what lead her to think that way, why she can’t forgive herself or give herself a chance to try to live her life.
To read everything that happened to her was tough and it made me feel so bad for her, and it was hard to read how she can’t let things go, she’s clinging on all of her sadness and all her mistakes, and you want her to let herself feel, and live and be happy, at least that’s how I felt.
I’d really recommend Dear Cassie, I think one can learn about forgiveness and other couple of things through the story. I liked Lisa Burstein’s writing, is very fluid and she gave Cassie what I thought is a very realistic voice, so it’s easy to relate with her as well as care for her, I wouldn’t doubt into picking another one of her books but for now I tell you, give yourself a chance to read this book.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews152 followers
March 29, 2013
Three stars: A revealing and honest look at a teenager in peril.

Cassie refuses to think back to what happened on prom night and the bad path her life has taken since then. She has closed her heart off and she won't let anyone in. Not after what Aaron did. She is going to suck it up and somehow get through the next thirty days at Turning Pines. Cassie knows it is going to be tough, and it will likely be one of the worst experiences of her life, but the alternatives are worse. What she doesn't count on, is finding someone there who just might be worth letting in. Can Cassie deal with her past and open her heart?
What I Liked:
*I had no illusions going into this one like I did last year when I read Pretty Amy. I was expecting Pretty Amy to be a light, fluffy read all about going to prom, what I got was a tough look at three teenage girls making bad decisions due to their lack of self worth. This time, I knew that Cassie's story would be even more raw and I was right. This is not an easy novel to read, probably why I don't review more contemporary, it was tough at times and it stressed me out, but through it all, I saw a girl struggling to find herself and prove that her life mattered. Cassie's journey of self discovery takes place during a month long stay at Turning Pines which is one of those rehab camps where they send juvenile delinquents. It is not a fun place to stay by any means and it was an eye opening experience to read this one. If you ever wondered about the type of people who are sent to these camps and what they undergo read this book.
*Cassie is a touch character to like. On one hand she is smart and funny, some of her lines are so sarcastic that they made me laugh, but on the other hand she is so closed off and damaged that it is hard to get the full picture. She is a girl who has never really been shown kindness in her life, except from her brother. Her father serves in the military so he is always gone, her mother is consequently always drunk because she can't deal with his absence. Cassie has never been cuddled and loved and told that she mattered. So she is angry to the point of being combative and she doesn't know the first thing about love and trust. The one time she lets a boy in, she suffers some catastrophic consequences which shatter the fragile trust she established. Now she is broken, gutted if you will, and trying to survive each day at the camp. During her stay, Cassie slowly analyzes all the bad that happened to her, comes to terms with it, and she begins to take those tentative steps to trust and hope and believing she is worth it. Keep in mind her self discovery is harsh and brutal at times and gut wrenching, but in the end I am glad I went on the journey with Cassie.
*I appreciated that this book dealt with some very challenging topics such as pregnancy and abortion and the devastating aftermath. Cassie's experience is painful, scarring and revealing.
*This is one of those contemporary novels that will stick with me because it is so honest and it doesn't hold back. Cassie puts forth a tough exterior. On the outside she is a girl who smokes, curses and makes bad choices and doesn't seem to care what the world thinks of her, but on the inside she is scared, alone and desperately wanting to be loved. Even though she wouldn't want it, I wanted to hug her.
And The Not So Much:
*I was a bit frustrated at times that some of the more interesting aspects were glossed over and not fully fleshed out. For instance, I wanted to know more about what happened with Aaron. How did Cassie tell him what happened and how did she break it off with him? I would also have liked to know more about her home life to see how she ended up the way she is. What was her relationship like with her father when he was home? I was also disappointed that there wasn't a bit more on what happened with Amy and Lila. Finally, I wished there was an Epilogue to see how Cassie is doing down the road. Did her stay at the camp make a difference?
*This is not a read for everyone. Do not go into this expecting to find a huge change in Cassie, nor don't expect a fully blossomed romance. The romance is subtle and not fully developed, which is a good thing because of Cassie's inability to trust anyone after what happened to her. Cassie's metamorphosis can't be likened to a caterpillar into butterfly. It is more like a girl who is coming to terms with what happened and fearfully grasping at a bit of hope for something good in her future, but by no means is she out of the woods. I liked though, that Ms. Burstein kept it real and didn't have Cassie do a complete turn around.
*Keep in mind, even though this book is Young Adult, it is for mature readers only. There are some very tough topics in this one such as abortion. There is plenty of foul language as well.
*I struggled a bit with Ben. He is so kind and sweet and he continues to dig at Cassie's tough girl exterior despite the horrid way she treats him. I wanted to know why he was so persistent. What did he see in Cassie that would make him keep pushing? I was also a bit confused on why he was at the camp in the first place. Why would he take the fall for his brother. Finally, I didn't like his stunt at the end. It was ridiculous and stupid.
*The other issue I had with this one was that the kids at the camp were constantly sneaking out and getting away with things. I was expecting the camp counselors to have better control of the situation and I didn't buy that the kids weren't more closely monitored.

Dear Cassie is a good follow up to Pretty Amy. In fact, I much preferred Cassie's voice to Amy's since Cassie doesn't sit around and feel sorry for herself and she is more in your face. This book takes at harsh look at a teenage girl floundering with the pressures of today's society as she tries to find herself and learn her own self worth. The story is raw and gritty and it isn't easy, but in the end, I enjoyed watching those first hesitant baby steps that Cassie takes to hopefully what will be a brighter future. This book isn't for everyone, but if you are someone who enjoys realistic, gut wrenching reads, get this one.

Favorite Quotations:
"The "cabin" looked like a shack built by a homicidal maniac---you know, the place he keeps his blood-splattered murder tools and rotting corpses. The door creaked as Rawe opened it---that a room you enter and may never leave creak."
"I already knew what I was capable of, and I wouldn't want to be in a cabin in the woods alone with me."
"Rawe said that if we knew where we came from, it would be easier to see how we'd ended up where we'd ended up. The crap not falling far from the butthole and all that."
"I would have liked to be drinking stolen beer from the cooler, but after the arrest, my mother did a sobriety check every time I came home. Which was beyond ironic, considering my mother's breath could have gotten me drunk."
"You look like a naked, upside-down female synchronized swimmer in need of a wax," I spit through the water. "Desperately."
"Um, maybe," I said, even though I was positive if I kneeled down to pray, the sky would open up and lightning would fly out like octopus arms and burn me to a crisp. I didn't deserve to pray. Not that anyone but my brother knew it, but I didn't deserve anything except to go take a crap in a pit toilet."
"If this is what I am now---a girl who used to know who she was, who used to be able to make people afraid of her, but is now only scared of herself. Of what she will do if she lets one more boy in."
"They probably had the kind of parents who would always tell them they were awesome, even when they sucked. I had the kind who told me I sucked when I sucked."
"You ned to live this life." she whispered. "You can live it with regret, or you can let it go."

A big thanks to Entangled Teen for providing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@ Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Bailee.
92 reviews67 followers
March 19, 2013
Dear authors who seem determined to make me cry,
I should boycott your books and refuse to buy them because they make me vulnerable. I should refuse to give them good ratings and reviews because they frighten me sometimes with how real they are. But in the end, that just seems impossible to me. It's like I can't help but love the books because I am so invested and involved in the story. Yet I hate the way they seem to make me feel. Just thought I'd let you know.
Sincerely, Bailee

The first thing that caught my attention about this book was the cover. I used to play around with pictures, adding text that was almost invisible on the image but still you could see the basic outline and maybe read it if you stared at it long enough. When I saw this cover, that was all I could think about and I knew right away that I loved this cover without a doubt in my mind. Then I was certain that if I could love a cover just by looking at it, studying it, I knew that the story just might capture me as well. I actually debated about whether to request the title or not for awhile and then decided that there was no way that I couldn't. I loved the cover too much not to. So here I am, dry tear tracks on my cheeks (thank you very much, Lisa Burstein, you've made it onto my list) and determined to give this book the review it deserves. Although, I know that I probably won't make you cry over it.

Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein is a heart wrenching story of Cassie, a girl who probably punishes herself more than anyone would think she deserves. In her life, all she had was her brother and her two best friends to depend on but by the time everything went down, all she had was her brother. One of her best friends served her up on a platter for a lesser sentence for a crime they all committed and it is was all because of a boy, one who didn't deserve either of them. This boy destroyed Cassie's world and was the final nail in her coffin. Now forced to spend one month in a wilderness rehab, she must face the demons that she hid away under the walls she built around it and the guy who just might be worth her trust. The only solace she can find is in this Assessment Journal as people betray and hurt her constantly. She knows without a doubt that she deserves all of the punishment they give her, in fact she punishes herself just to teach herself that she isn't worth anything. She isn't worth forgiving. But people are determined to help her see beyond her faults and realize that she can forgive herself despite everything that has happened. Will she be able to forgive herself? Can she move beyond the things that weigh her down? Will she allow herself to be happy?

I'm only going to talk about three characters. I do this sometimes but it's mostly because I want to keep a lot of the plot hidden. There are so many characters I am literally bursting at the seams to tell you about but I know that it could potentially spoil some important things that you have to discover through Cassie's eyes. Three characters I selected are by far my favorites, whether it's because of the role they play or just the person that they are. I sense that in a way, I wish I had these sort of people in my life and that's why I love them so much. Screwed up and all, I love them.

Cassie, oh Cassie, is a beautiful example of a person being eaten alive by guilt from the inside out. I knew that she had been through something from the moment I picked up the story to read and it reminded me a lot of how I, myself, and friends have acted when faced with something from our pasts. She deflects people's attempts to become friends all the while desperately wanting to connect with them but feeling unworthy of it. It's hard to read her suffer through her forced rejections, her self-hate, and guilt because it stirs so many different emotions for me. It makes me think of my own problems that I refuse to forgive. It makes me ache because I feel for her in a way that I would for one of my best friends. She faces every sort of up and down possible. She knows instinctively that she may be at this rehab facility for one thing but she deserves it for an entirely different reason. But in her darkest moments she doesn't think that their punishments are enough. She continually punishes herself because she cannot forgive herself. Her biggest character growth of the novel actually happens over the course of the chapters, showing how slow trust really takes to form in the real world. I like that she is so real. I like that what she experiences is so real too.

Ben is the guy who challenges everything that Cassie believes about the male gender in general. He is also being sent to the wilderness rehab facility but for an entirely different reason that you'll discover once you read the book. From the moment he met her, he seemed to be attracted like a moth to a flame and perhaps the relationship between the two of them is more akin to that analogy than I care to admit. He is the type of guy that you wouldn't mind introducing your parents to, the kind that makes you laugh when you want to cry, and the guy that seems to know when to push you and when to leave it alone. He is flawed like so many guys are in real life and there is just something that is so real about him. Unlike paranormal romances or fantasy novels, he seems attainable. In a world where girls dream about having a vampire boyfriend, I dream about meeting a guy like Ben who is perfectly flawed.

Troyer may sound like a boy's name but really it is a girl character's last name and I am not spoiling her first name. You'll find out. She is probably the greatest sort of best friend character that I have ever read about and the best thing about her? She doesn't say a single word. She manages to capture your heart and your attention by simply existing. She manages to be everything that Cassie needs when she needs it. Even when people push her around, she shows her dislike in her own silent way which earns her the title of most interesting by a land slide. Not to slight Ben or Cassie but they just don't write 'em like Troyer every day. Typically best friends are the chatty, energetic, overly excited type and it threw me for a loop when suddenly I was faced with a girl who didn't (couldn't or wouldn't, you'll find out) speak at all. Suddenly all of my previous ideas of the perfect best friend character was shifted in a moment's notice.

So here's my review and that's all I'm spilling, seeing as I've already spilled enough... tears, that is. I really want you all to read and fall in love with this story like I did. It's raw story, full of emotions that can sometimes be unbearable but in the end it is worth it all. I wouldn't change this in the slightest. It deserves to be recognized because it's a beautiful story. A worthwhile tale that shouldn't be forgotten least of all by our generation.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,649 followers
April 12, 2013
Dear Cassie is, initially, a very hard book to like. Where Amy in Burstein's debut Pretty Amy is weak and sympathetic, Cassie is brash, vulgar and completely uninterested in anyone's pity. At times, Dear Cassie hurts to read, and I had a pretty visceral reaction to some of the hatred that Cassie spews at everyone. However, Dear Cassie is also the kind of book that slowly changes over time to become something else entirely, depicting an impressive character arc through the alteration in the writing style.

For approximately the first half of the book, Cassie insults everyone, both out loud and in her head, and she swears like a sailor. She slut shames, she makes nasty assumptions, and she generally hates on every single person in the world. While it's fairly obvious Cassie uses this hate as a coping mechanism, as a way of avoiding her own problems, it's not pleasant to read. What Burstein does quite effectively, though, is reflect Cassie's progress in rehab through her writing. As the book progresses, Cassie talks less about others, and sticks much more to the basic facts. She swears less, mostly only in her dialog. Over the course of the novel, her outlook becomes healthier, and that's reflected so well in the narration.

What I am perhaps most glad of is that Cassie had a deeper issue than the arrest that was so central to Pretty Amy. Yes, it was the catalyst that sent Cassie's life spinning off the rails, but she had much bigger problems come after. Burstein deals with a larger, darker subject than that, and does so well. Burstein does not try to fully heal Cassie over the course of the book, and she doesn't oversimplify her experiences. In fact, I think Cassie's still trying to bury her past, to forget what she's done at the novel's closing, which is more realistic than being over what she's been through.

I almost DNFed Dear Cassie, but pushed on in hopes of the change that I did eventually find within its pages. Like with Cassie herself, the other characters come off as stereotypes of the different kinds of rebellious teens: the slutty one, the tortured one, the hot one, the tattooed one, the jock, etc. It's a regular breakfast club of teen lawbreakers. Burstein does eventually give a bit more depth to the others, but the story really isn't about them. I get that the focus is on Cassie's mental progress, and that this wasn't the kind of camp where they all sit around and talk about their feelings. They're there because they're sort of beyond the point where ordinary behavior, like talking with others, can shock them out of their ways. Still, a bit more development into some of them might have been nice.

What left a bad taste in my mouth, though, is the romance. I do understand the purpose the flirtation served in helping Cassie overcome her issues with boys, but I think they got too serious too fast. I never felt a real connection between them, and I really don't think she's mentally stable enough for a relationship right now, not to mention a long distance one. On top of that, I'm not entirely convinced Ben is on the level. The romance sort of overpowers the plot towards the end, and that is unfortunate.

Much darker than its counterpart Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie tackles rough subject matter in an honest, harsh way. Though not for everyone, Dear Cassie will appeal to those looking to see more grit in YA writing, those sick of wimpy heroines. Burstein's sophomore novel is daring, and sure to be a hit with the right readers.
Profile Image for Kate.
789 reviews32 followers
March 20, 2013
Dear Cassie is a companion novel to Lisa Burstein’s debut, Pretty Amy however you don’t need to have read Amy’s story in order to enjoy Dear Cassie.

Cassie Wick is struggling to deal with the fallout from the Prom Night disaster. Faced with jail time or a month-long stint at a rehabilitation camp for rebellious and troublesome teens – Cassie chooses thirty days at Turning Pines Wilderness Camp. Her criminal record is not the only problem Cassie’s facing. An unplanned pregnancy and a boy who may have just been using her to cover his own behind. And now there’s Ben. Ben Claire – the type of boy you can tell is a drummer in a band and considering how they met – Cassie just knows that he has got to have as many issues as she does.

I loved Cassie in Pretty Amy. But after reading her own story I fell even harder. She’s not pretty. She’s angry and frustrated, scared and confused. But she’s real. And at Turning Pines with only fellow “inmates”, the wilderness and her journal for company – there’s nowhere to hide from her thoughts. Her regrets. Stubborn and hurt, Cassie’s story was one that I loved reading. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. She’s such an engaging narrator. The hurt, confusing and feeling that there’s no way out that Cassie experiences is something that I think every teen can related to in some way or another.

The relationships in this novel were such a pleasure to read. From the bizarre room-mates Nez and Troyer to the counsellors - they all added that element of realism to Cassie’s story. Even the often mentioned but never seen Tim. I loved wanting to know what happened next and how Cassie would react next. And then there’s Ben. He may not be a conventional romantic lead but there was something very engaging about him. He’s sweet in the oddest way. There’s one romantic gesture (you know the one if you’ve read the book!) that on one hand is the most crazy and ridiculous thing ever but on the other – it’s the kind that makes my heart happy.

My favourite books are the ones where the characters grow. They learn from their past and they try. Try to be better even when thing seem their most dire. And this book satisfied me in the best way. Cassie grew. By the end of the novel she’s not the same person who first entered Turning Pines. And I loved that about her.

Dear Cassie is a beautiful novel about regret and trying to move on. Realistic characters with heart and engaging stories, this is a novel that is both relate able and powerful.

Profile Image for Krazybooklady.
132 reviews67 followers
February 5, 2013
We first met Cassie in Pretty Amy as part of the trio of friends that broke into a guy's house after they were stood up for prom night, stole his pot, and managed to get themselves arrested with it. Cassie was the "tough guy" of the group, never showing emotion and never really letting anyone in. In Dear Cassie, we find out why she is so closed off from relationships and so guarded with her emotions. Besides Cassie's tough childhood and getting arrested with a crap load of pot on prom night, she is also trying to figure out how to deal with a life altering decision she was forced to make after the arrest. Now Cassie is being sent to rehab to try to keep herself out of jail, but she wonders if this will be enough? Will it really help her?

I have developed a love/hate relationship with Lisa Burstein. And I use the word "hate" in a very loose sense because I don't really mean hate. This is the third book I've read by this author. (Well, two books and one novella. Review on the novella coming soon.) I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised that I have enjoyed them so much. On the surface, Dear Cassie may look like a typical YA book with a whiny "oh poor me" main character where everything pretty much turns out perfectly even though they complain about their hard life the whole time, but you get so much more than that. Lisa Burstein manages to capture the raw emotions and effectively portray them so that the reader can relate to the character and the situation. Both Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie take real situations and show how hard it can be to deal with the consequences. I enjoy this type of YA/NA book and wish that I had been able to find these when I was that age. Now for the "hate" part. I rarely find myself so drawn into a character's world that I am disappointed at the end of the book. Not disappointed in the story but disappointed that it was over because I was so drawn into Cassie's world that I want to know what happens next. What is Cassie's next step? I am really hoping we find out in a follow up. Is Lila's story up next? I hope so.
Profile Image for Lisa Sanchez.
Author 12 books333 followers
March 17, 2013
Dear Cassie is the first book I've read by Lisa Burstein and won't be the last. I did not read Pretty Amy (the first book in the series), and it didn't hinder my enjoyment or understanding of this story in the least.

Dear Cassie is told from Cassie's pov. She's tough, gritty, and in your face, and I felt instantly drawn to her character. It was evident to me, early on, that she pushed people away with her swearing and attitude, and I wanted to know what it was that had scarred her so badly she felt she couldn't trust anyone.

Turning Pines, the camp she's been sent to in order to help her "straighten out her life", is nothing short of horrific (well, in my girly-girl opinion, anyway, lol!). Stuck in a rustic, dirty setting, and unable to take advantage of basic things most of us take for granted on a daily basis—like using a flush toilet, or showering—Cassie struggles to come to grips with her "real" problem, the truth that's slowly tearing her apart. These moments, where we see Cassie open up and face her reality are poignant, well-written, and truly make this a wonderful read.

The secondary characters were equally enjoyable. Nez, in my opinion, quickly became the character everyone loves to hate, while sweet, mute Troyer was her exact opposite. And then, of course, there is Ben. I loved his unwavering, and oftentimes relentless pursuit of Cassie. His refusal to give up on her was touching and I wish we could have seen more of him and Cassie together. What can I say? I'm a hopeless romantic, lol!

I'd definitely recommend this book to lovers of contemporary YA. I think the subject matter and hard language makes it appropriate for older teens, and gives a great depiction of the aftermath some of our youth face after making tough, adult decisions at an early age. This is one of those books that would be great to read along with your sixteen-year old daughter, and then have a nice, long talk.

Profile Image for Jenna D..
1,038 reviews144 followers
March 29, 2013
Full Review at Making the Grade.

Excellent for fans of First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky or Pushing the Limits and Dare You To by Katie McGarry, DEAR CASSIE is a contemporary tale that will resonate with many readers from beginning to end. Although reading the companion novel, PRETTY AMY, is not entirely necessary in order to understand and enjoy DEAR CASSIE, I do believe that if you want to gain a full appreciation for some of the revelations in this novel, you should consider reading the companion novel, as well.

If you recall, during the pages of PRETTY AMY, the “cusses-like-a-sailor” Cassie found herself convicted of the crimes that occurred in that novel. As a result, she has been send to a boot camp of sorts for delinquent teens, and that is where she finds herself in the opening pages of DEAR CASSIE. But DEAR CASSIE is less about Cassie dealing with the repercussions of her mistakes on prom night (despite the fact that it is the reason she is where she is) and more about her own personal demons with regard to a much, much larger problem.

I found myself quite surprised by the depth of emotion contained within the pages of DEAR CASSIE. How Lisa manages to interweave Cassie’s ongoing story with the events that occurred in her earlier novel are surreal and also carefully plotted. Cassie has been keeping some secrets from everyone and she is about to face them head-on as she learns to take responsibility for herself and for others at Turning Pines Wilderness Camp.

For a good part of the book, Cassie merely seems to be going through the motions – albeit with frequently snarky remarks and “choice” words. Resistant at first, as one would expect of a girl who thinks the whole world is against her, Lisa Burstein finds slow and subtle ways to reveal Cassie’s true self, all thanks to the people she meets and through the passages of her personal journal. Cassie is not the most likable person, by any means, more she is someone who will likely grow on you when you least expect it. Just as she miraculously appealed to the carefree and seemingly harmless character, Ben, Cassie will find her way into your heart, as well. Trust me. Cassie has some skeletons in her closet that will have you feeling for her in no time.

I liked the fact that help comes for Cassie where one would least expect it. Help in the form of various characters Cassie meets while at Turning Pines. The mute but keenly observant Troyer becomes an unusual but true friend to Cassie. She is Cassie’s opposite in every way, and just might be what the doctor ordered for the troubled teen. Then there is the bombastic Nez, who has a few noticeable “issues” of her own, and in a way Cassie learns from her as well. Finally, there is Ben. Yup, of course he’s going to be the love interest, but he offers Cassie is so much more than a gentle hand. I won’t say anything more for fear of spoiling the book, but just know that Ben will surprise you (and Cassie) in very unexpected ways.

Also an excellent book about camp life and wilderness training, the only items that I had issue with in DEAR CASSIE include 1) the extensive use of foul language (of course). (But I give great exception on my typical aversion when it comes DEAR CASSIE because Cassie would not be the character she is without the distasteful words which she uses as a shield.) Be advised that if you have younger teens reading this book, they will be exposed to almost every manner in which foul language can be used. And 2) the ending was a bit more abrupt than I had anticipated it to be. While I do have faith that we have not seen the end of Cassie, I wish there had been slightly more closure to her story in this entry.

Have you ever done anything in your life you regretted? How did you find ways to bring yourself peace and, even more importantly, to forgive yourself for what you have done? If any of the questions above pertain to you (or even if they don’t) I encourage you to read DEAR CASSIE today. Through Cassie, readers will learn about forgiveness. They will realize that no matter how bad things seem to be and that, though our lives may not turn out as we expected it to, there are ways that one can persevere and still be happy.

When push comes to shove there are few lessons in life greater than that.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,448 reviews898 followers
March 2, 2013
*I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher for possible review*

Dear Cassie is a companion book to Pretty Amy, but you don't need to have read it to enjoy Dear Cassie.

The books explore the aftermath of a prom night fiasco, in which three friends, Amy, Cassie and Lila, were stood up by their dates, then arrested for possession of marijuana. In the aftermath of this event, all the girls will have to come to terms with the various personal issues and insecurities that got them to that point. There was a major plot development in Pretty Amy concerning Cassie that I wasn't sure I remembered correctly, but having my memory be a little hazy actually made this book that much more suspenseful.

Dear Cassie begins as Cassie's at an airport, waiting to be picked up. A cute ("cutest guy in a boy band cute") guy tries to talk to her and she shoots him down. Of course, they're both headed to the Turning Pines Wilderness Camp, a.k.a. rehab in the woods.

Cassie is dumped in a ramshackle cabin with two other girls, Nez, who talks too much, and Troyer, who doesn't talk at all. The girls are forced to do manual labor day after day and write in their journals. They're encouraged to come to terms with the things that led them to Turning Pines. Nez just wants to sneak out to the boys' cabins, and Troyer wants to give everyone the silent treatment. Cassie doesn't come to terms with anything. She doesn't want to think about Aaron -- the guy who ditched her at prom -- or about what happened between the two of them after that. She uses her sharp tongue and her tough attitude to push everyone away, over and over. Even Ben. But he's pretty persistent. And seems pretty nice. Everyone at Turning Pines has secrets. Secrets that will eventually come out.

Like Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie also has some hilariously funny moments. And some very poignant moments. Dear Cassie is a book that will appeal to fans of realistic fiction, to New Adult fans, and to readers who like a lot of emotion in their books.

Read the full review on my blog, YA Romantics
Profile Image for Joli.
416 reviews138 followers
March 19, 2013
originally posted at http://actinupwithbooks.blogspot.com/...

Dear Cassie, the companion novel to Pretty Amy, is so much more than I ever imagined it would be. The Cassie in this book is completely different from the character in Pretty Amy because we get to hear her voice, know her thoughts and not just how Amy saw her. While they are companion novels, I really don't want to compare the books because each book is different, just like both girls are different.

Dear Cassie is an excellent example of how people don't always see themselves as others see them and how often people can see beyond what we are willing to share of ourselves. But more than that, it demonstrates the ways we punish ourselves when what we need to doing is forgiving ourselves.

Katie Kacvinsky (an author whose books I'm a fan of) blurbed Dear Cassie, but it wasn't needed to convince me to read it. It just convinced me that I shouldn't wait another minute to read Dear Cassie and it's true - "be ready to be changed."

Dear Cassie is filled with a lot of memorable moments - shocking, jaw-dropping, laughable, and heart-breaking, but this one just might be my favorite:

He turned to go, then stopped like he remembered something. "I'll try to come back tonight," he said. His face was hopeful, as hopeful as the sun that was about to rise.
"You sure are willing to go through a lot for cigarette smoking and hand holding, " I said.
"You need to try and remember that." He watched me. Maybe for the way the sun was starting to color my face, or maybe for the way my eyes were on his, unable to look away. (pg 238)

I just love this book! I recommend it as well as Lisa Burstein's Pretty Amy and companion novella, The Next Forever.

Disclaimer: This review is based on the paperback version which I purchased for my personal library. I was not compensated in any way for providing this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
13 reviews
February 10, 2013
I have a free copy of this for the express purpose of review, but I enjoyed it so much that not only is it a definite “MUST READ” for me, I’ll be purchasing a copy so that Lisa will write many, many more.

The Good:

Needless to say, the story is gripping. It’s told entirely from Cassie’s point of view (obviously, as it’s a diary) and all of her turmoil is conveyed in raw, moving descriptions of her time at Turning Pines.

Ultimately, Cassie is just an average teenager. She isn’t extraordinarily bad. She isn’t even really a little bad. She’s going through the same sorts of things that all teens go through as they try to figure out who they are and where they fit in with the rest of the world.

As Cassie gets closer and closer to admitting to herself and more importantly to Troyer (I’ve already asked for her story!), it’s heartbreaking to see the effect that her secret has had on her.

Cassie finally learns to start trusting herself, and others, again.

Seriously, the writing is incredible. I felt all the feels that Cassie felt and I was right back in the middle of all the self-doubt I had when I was her age.

Lisa doesn’t fall into the sometimes trap of writing teen characters for adults. They don’t have it all together. They aren’t confident. Her characters are still learning and trying to figure it out. They really are teens. Not teens the way that adults wish they’d been. So, BRAVA!!

The Bad:

Since it’s about Cassie and told from her point of view, I want more about the other characters! I’m looking at you, Lisa!


Dear Cassie is incredibly touching. It’s a deep soul-searching journey for Cassie, as she struggles to come to terms with the long and often difficult journey into adulthood. (Doesn’t that sound all official and stuff?)

Honestly, it’s just an incredible read and I think you should sit down and read it. Now.
Profile Image for Rachel.
132 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2013
I have read all three books in this series, and I loved them all.

Dear Cassie tells the story of what happens to Cassie when she is sent to "wilderness rehab" after that fateful prom night when Cassie's life is changed forever. We got to see Amy's perspective in the first book of the series, "Pretty Amy" and while reading Amy's story, I couldn't wait to hear what Cassie had to say in this book.

And, oh, did Cassie have a lot to say. When we meet Cassie in Pretty Amy, she is the tough as nails girl in their group. Cassie is intimidating, loud, and calls it as she sees it. She's had a tough upbringing and you know that her actions are a defence mechanism - don't let people get too close so they don't have the chance to hurt you.

But, as we see the world through Cassie's eyes, we get a glimpse into what truly makes her tick. Under her tough exterior is a vulnerable girl who is sad and lonely, yet so determined to keep others away. I truly loved Cassie's character, and I loved watching her character's development over the two books. (Cassie isn't in Amy and Joe's book - 2.5)

While at rehab, Cassie meets Ben. Although there is romance in this book, it's not a romance novel. There's no love at first sight, no easy relationship for these two. And, I thought the slow progression of their friendship fit perfectly with the book. Cassie isn't one to give her heart away lightly. If anything had been different, their relationship wouldn't have felt authentic. I also really appreciated that Cassie was able to make changes for herself - there's no white knight in this book, no boy who changes her. Cassie changes herself.

I definitely recommend this book. It's not a light read, and I found myself thinking of Cassie after I finished reading the book. In a good way...
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 13 books121 followers
March 5, 2013
I was given this review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

After being arrested on prom night (which you can read about in Pretty Amy, another awesome book by Lisa Burstein) Cassie is sent to Turning Pines wilderness camp. Here she rooms with two other girls who have just as many problems as she does. She also meets Ben, who despite being attracted to she initially is always pushing away.

Dear Cassie is beautifully written, with depth and understanding. We see all facets of Cassie’s character, from the snarky to the desperately vulnerable. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a read. I couldn’t put it down and would one hundred percent recommend it to anyone.

Profile Image for Trixiter Marczak.
209 reviews1 follower
December 12, 2017
What an awesome follow up to Dear Amy! Truly a MUST read! This story exposes you to Cassie's troubles and triumphs following the events that happened in Pretty Amy!

This series is real-world written YA on what many teen girls go through every day. The rejection of their peers, family, and boys.

Again, LOVE LOVE LOVE the series and can't wait for more!
Profile Image for Lindy.
795 reviews201 followers
March 25, 2013
Dear Cassie, by Lisa Burstein, was a great coming of age story. I enjoyed that it was written partially in journal format, as she writes in her, "assessment diary," and I felt like I was able to read Cassie's most intimate thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The main character, Cassie, has been sent to a rehabilitation camp after she was stood up at prom, (along with her friends Lila, and Amy,) and they stole marijuana from one of the guys, and drove around under the influence. Cassie was the only one out of the trio to get punished, because Lila disappeared, and Amy turned Cassie in, as part of a plea bargain. Cassie's only options were to go to jail, or attend, Turning Pines Wilderness Camp. She decided to go to the camp, thinking it would be an easy, relaxing experience. She was very wrong...

I enjoyed reading, Dear Cassie. I connected with the characters, and the story that they had to tell. The authenticity of the characters, and reality of what they had dealt with in the past, and were currently dealing with, pulled me into the story. Cassie had an abusive, alcoholic mother, and a father and brother that weren't around often, because they were in the military. Even when Cassie's father was home, he paid little to no attention to her. The only person Cassie could depend on was her older brother. They had a very close relationship, and he was the only person in her life that made her feel loved, and cared about.

Cassie was such a well-devoloped, three-dimensional, and complex character. During the story, she went through the emotions of self-hate, anger, shame, attraction, acceptance, and finally hope. I sympathized with her plight, and was fascinated, as, little by little, Cassie's secret was revealed. I understood why she felt the way she did, and felt so much sadness for her. Cassie was full of anger, sarcasm, snarkiness, and pushed everyone away. She wasn't one to share her feelings, cry, or act friendly. At the camp, everyone was referred to by their last name. In Camp, with Cassie, we got to meet the girls camp leader, Rawe, (who tried to help Cassie,) and the boy's camp leader, Nerone. We also met Cassie's room mates, Nez, (who was boy crazy, and always trying to get Cassie in trouble,) and Troyer, (who chose not to talk to anyone, but eventually becomes good friends with Cassie.) The boys living area was separated from the girls, but they still interacted with one another in various camp tasks, such as chopping wood, hiking, canoeing, camping, and many other things. We got to meet Eagen, Leisner, and Stravalaci. They were supporting characters. The boy that wanted Cassie's heart was Ben. I fell in love with Ben. No matter how many times Cassie tried to push him away, he never left her, and he only wanted to make her laugh, smile, and be happy. He saw past the facade that Cassie portrayed to everyone else. Ben was sensitive, compassionate, patient, and persistent. He saw Cassie, for who she really was, and fell in love with her. I wish there were more Ben's out there!

I loved how, Dear Cassie, was written. It was simplistic, fast-paced, and very readable. I enjoyed the way Ms. Burstein revealed glimpses of what was behind Cassie's facade. I liked how there was mystery behind what Cassie's secret was, and how it was revealed little by little throughout Cassie's flashback memories, and diary entries. As Cassie's secret, along with the other teens secrets were revealed, there was a clear message. It was a message about hope, and letting go of self- loathing, forgiveness of self, empowerment, leaving the past behind, and looking toward the future.

I give, Dear Cassie, by Lisa Burstein, 4 Soul-Searching, Learning to Let Go, and Begin Anew Stars. This is a story of substance that deals with letting go of your past, learning to forgive yourself, and embrace a new beginning! I recommend, Dear Cassie, to readers that enjoy the complexity, and growth that occurs during the teenage years. It is a story that offers insight into the psyche of a troubled teen, learning to deal with her demons, and having the courage, strength, and fortitude, to let happiness in.

Profile Image for Fab Fun & Tantalizing Reads.
566 reviews96 followers
April 4, 2013
I did not want to put this down once I started it. Needing to know each of their secrets. Fast forward 24 hours and here I am thinking it all through & siphoning through a bunch of questions floating in my mind about Cassie and the 30 day misfits wondering what their futures will hold...

Little rocks popped like popcorn under the tires as we pulled in at a sign that read: Turning Pines Wilderness Camp— Helping Teenagers, One Life at a Time.
Camp? Fucking camp? My parents shipped me all the way to California to sleep in dirt?

I enjoyed the book right from the beginning. I laughed A LOT. And LOUDLY. I liked Cassie. I wonder if that could only have been because I was reading her journal and living her memories, I don't know that she started off all that likeable. I guess one would say there is not many 16 year olds out there that are, but I felt her. I understood her language & her love of hot showers, porcelain toilets, and un-blistered hands as well as her hatred of bugs, and manual labor.

I sat there for a moment, my tailbone throbbing. What was
I doing? I didn’t belong here. This seriously sucked. Even Troyer could chop wood, and she couldn’t even talk.

Actually, I liked all the characters, although it was hard to connect with them as I'm not certain they were developed for us to do so, being journal style we were just seeing them through 1 dimensional snap shots. I will say I really enjoyed Ben. I adored his tenacity but I now wonder why he even wanted to be with Cassie from the beginning. Did he know anything about her at all? Was it that she was hard to get? I'll never know, but I just really liked him. Maybe it was because of what he did for Cassie as a broken girl with so much pain inside.

Ben’s words were like oxygen stoking a fire, and my body a spark. I reached for his hand in the darkness. He rubbed his thumb on the underside of my palm so gently, so deliberately, the kind of touch that, if you let it, has the power to make you go blind.

I LOVED the constant bickering, the canoeing, wood chopping, fire building, pit digging, basketball playing and so many other laugh out loud moments that I can't think of to mention.

The journal entries, lessons, dialogue, cursing, smoking, thought processes, & peer interactions were so authentic & took me back in time to my teenager years where I remembered thinking, feeling and speaking so similar to Cassie. The growth she made in 30 days was not staggering but it was genuine and noticeable. Each day she understood something a little more, or accepted that shitty things happen in life, or even that friends really can suck. She owned her actions, I admired that even though she didn't diarize it all, she lived it.

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was a girl who’d given up when I got here and was still giving up. Even when faced with the possibility of something good, I gave up, because it was easier than knowing it wouldn’t last.

This book moved me. It had me laughing, hysterically at times, but also crying and feeling so saf that Cassie had already faced so much in her short life. It had me rooting for a better future for her & willing her the strength to make better choices going forward.

Well done Ms Burstein. You have a new fan!

Thank you Netgalley & Entangled Publishing for providing an e-galley of this novel for review purposes. This review is my honest thoughts after completing the book and is no way altered by that fact.
Profile Image for Gabriella.
691 reviews24 followers
March 19, 2013
I'd like to thank Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read this story.
"The forgiveness will come."

“You get in the middle, Cassie,” Leisner said. “Let the guns run the stern.” He made a muscle.
“Your guns look like they’re out of ammo.” I laughed.
There was no way I was letting one of them be in charge of steering this thing. If I was forced to go out into the middle of the lake with these two idiots, at least I wanted to know I would be able to steer my way back.

My favorite book from the "series". I loved it. Dear Cassie is a companion book to Pretty Amy . You don't have to read the first book to understand this one, but things will make more sense. (And that's a good book too, so give it a go.)

Dear Cassie follows Cassie's story after the girls are arrested for possession and intent to sell after being stood up at the prom.
Cassie has been sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp in order to help her straighten out her life.
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, surrounded with strangers Cassie also struggles to cope with her problems.

This book very intense on an emotional level.
Like the previous book it addresses real issues that too many teenagers encounters: peer pressure, reckless decisions, loyalty, insecurity...

The characters are likeable with real problems.

The only thing I miss is that I don't know how Cassie's story ended. I hope there will be sequel to it like The Next Forever for Amy's story.

I definitely recommend this book. It's not a light read, but it's worth a read.
Profile Image for Cindy.
813 reviews39 followers
April 11, 2013
Dear Cassie is one of those books that just squeezes at your heart. Makes you wish parents would be parents. Cassie has gotten herself into a little bit of trouble which lands her at Turning Pines camp which is for teens that are in trouble. (Her parents needed a camp, called pull her head out and parent up) Cassie is a lost soul in a lot of ways just looking for someone to love her and want her. She is close with her brother but he has his own life too. Her dad is off at war and her mother is drunk on the couch not coping with him being away. I liked how the author didn't sugarcoat Cassie she is a little more than just rough around the edges, and boy does she have a mouth on her. She is not all bad by any means she just has these tall thick walls up, and you can see why. A friend that lies and gets her in this mess to begin with and parents that aren't there for her, and a guy who is a total jerk. Aaron the jerk guy plays on her being naive and wanting for love and attention and well catastrophic events will fallow and leave her more broken than she already was.
While at Turning Pines, Cassie starts to understand herself a little and tries to put her past in perspective and move forward. It is a slow and painful process. She meets Ben there and he too has a dark edge to him that she wants to stay away from, but seems drawn to. He is very patient and understanding, and over the coarse of their stay Cassie finally opens up to him, and through this begins the healing process. Their's is a light romance, with a lot of heart.
This is not a light fluffy read. It is about a girl and who is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life.

mature teens

Profile Image for Heather.
570 reviews
March 7, 2013
Check out all my reviews at The Flyleaf Review

When I requested an e-ARC of Dear Cassie a couple of months ago, I knew that it was by the same author of last year's Pretty Amy, which I actually have not read. But I didn't know it was a companion novel, a novel featuring the same characters as Pretty Amy. So the bad news is I missed reading that book and getting to know the characters of Amy, Cassie, and Lila earlier. The good news is I still feel like I got to know them, and the events of Pretty Amy, well enough in Dear Cassie that it wasn't that much of a big deal. it definitely didn't confuse me or keep me from enjoying Cassie's story in Dear Cassie.

And why wouldn't I like her story? I am a self proclaimed fan of the "Bad Girl" archetype in young adult fiction. And if you remember the post I wrote up about bad girls a few months back, than you too would see that Cassie perfectly fits the parameters of that definition. Cassie, unlike her friend Amy, likes to smoke and drink and fool around. She's sarcastic and funny, but she can also be pretty biting and rude. And she's a little bit scary. Not sure I'd want to take her on when she's good and pissed (which is often.) You figure out pretty quickly that Cassie uses her words and her fists to keep people at bay. So she's a case of all bark AND bite.

Dear Cassie is a lot like another book I just read, Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara, in that both books are very introspective. We really get to know Cassie through her memories, both of her time spent with Aaron (more on him in a bit) and her time with her two closest friends (until they all got busted on Prom night) Amy and Lila. And it also becomes pretty clear that this aggressive, angry, bad ass chick on the outside, is actually a frightened, remorseful, guilt-ridden, lonely teenage girl on the inside.

When we meet Cassie at the start of this book, she is waiting to begin her post-sentencing rehab following she, Amy and Lila's arrest on prom night. As detailed in Pretty Amy, and recapped here in Dear Cassie, all three girls were stood up on prom night by Lila's boyfriend and their two blind dates. For revenge Lila snuck into her boyfriend's room and stole a bag of pot from him. I guess some other stuff went down and the three girls were pulled over by the police and arrested for possession. This is where things fell apart for the three friends. Lila took off (literally, she left town) and Amy rolled over on Cassie in exchange for immunity. So Cassie, who was already cast as the "bad seed" of the three, complete with screwed up home life and a bad attitude to boot, took the fall for all three. Because she is a minor she has been sentenced to one month at one of those wilderness rehabilitation camps in California. It's a pretty good deal all things considered. Cassie however has more than just the arrest on her mind. Something else happened, something following prom night, something BAD, and it is slowly eating away at her. We don't know what it is, but it's something that she can't let go of or move past.

While sitting at the airport waiting for her ride to the camp, she meets another "camper", Ben, who is irritatingly good looking and kind of nosy. He's also persistent. Persistent enough that Cassie's normal blow off lines bounce right off of him. So there is a chemistry between these two right from the start.

Once at Turning Pines, we meet Cassie's cabin mates: Nez and Troyer (only last names are used by the camp officials) and the officials themselves: Rawe (yep, that's her name) and Nerone, the boy's head honcho.

Troyer's gone mute, she won't speak a word and only communicates via notepad. And Nez, well, let's just say Nez likes the boys. A lot. These type of rehabilitation camps are meant to challenge Cassie and her fellow campers both physically and mentally. Everyone is required to keep an Assessment Journal, which they are to write in daily. Slowly, slowly we begin to learn why Cassie is so tortured.

Turns out it's not so much about the arrest. It's more about the loss of trust with Amy and Lila and also about a boy, Aaron. A boy that Cassie is beating herself up over for letting in. Aaron said all the right things and Cassie really felt that he knew her. But, as we learn, Aaron wasn't being as up front and honest with her as Cassie believed.

There are other things that happen to Cassie, important things, but in the interest of keeping this review spoiler-free I'll have to stop there. Let's just say that Cassie goes through some pretty awful stuff, stuff that has broken her down bit by bit. And her time at Camp Turning Pines brings all of this to a head.

Guys, Dear Cassie is an intense read. Cassie is not the most likable of characters, especially in the beginning. But as I continued to read, and as her story began to unfold, my feelings about her did change. I do love a complicated, imperfect female lead and Cassie is that for sure. But she is absolutely a redeemable female lead, and that's what sticks with you most as you're reading this book. You want so badly for her to mend herself and move on with her life. You want her to see that even though her life is far from perfect, it is still a life that holds the promise of a better future. Cassie is so hard on herself, she is in such a dark place emotionally, and I wanted her to move beyond that.

And though it doesn't happen quickly, she does slowly start letting people in. My favorite side characters in this story were Troyer, the silent, shy cabin mate and Ben, the boy who sticks by Cassie, refusing to stop trying to get Cassie to open up even when she's rude and dismissive to him.

It's not until the end of the story that Troyer begins to open up, but when she does, she leaves a lasting impression. I loved that part of the book, guys. Troyer is one amazing secondary character.

And Ben is the perfect blend of smooth talking, funny, charming and swoony. He remains a bit of mystery for much of the book as Cassie continues to push him away, but once she stops, and we get to know him? He is AWESOME. He is the perfect complement to Cassie.

And then there is Aaron. We actually do get some rather detailed insight into he and Cassie's relationship. I gotta say, even though he is total douche, I can't help but find his character fascinating. Aaron is charismatic, smooth and cocksure. Exactly the type of guy that Cassie is attracted to. No sensitive poet types for this girl. And witnessing their screwed up history is what makes Ben such a great guy. In some ways, Ben is a lot like Aaron, but more importantly, he's NOTHING like Aaron in many others. I actually really liked reading about Cassie "then" and Cassie "now", especially the parts with Aaron and Ben. It really rounded out her character and the story as a whole.

In summary, I very much enjoyed this book. It was tough to get into the head of someone as broken and hurting as Cassie, but it was worth it. I am kicking myself for not picking up Pretty Amy, but I look forward to reading more by Lisa Burstein, including her New Adult novella, The Next Forever. And I am curious if, now that we have gotten into Amy and Cassie's heads, is Lila's next? I hope so. I'm really loving this trio of very different friends and their stories.
Profile Image for Diayll.
452 reviews49 followers
April 9, 2013
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 5 Controllers - Diayll; 4.5 Controllers - Heather
Review Source: NetGalley
Reviewers: Joint Review: Heather and Diayll


Dear Cassie….you made me cry – uncontrollably. When I first started reading you I fell madly in love with your grace and stubble humor. You stirred emotions in me I didn’t foresee coming and I’m so glad I could share in your heartache, laughter, pain and growth. You’re exceptionally well written and I can’t give you enough praise. Well done Dear Cassie, well done…

Dear Cassie is the heart-wrenching story of Cassie and the repercussions she suffered from one night of tragic mistakes. When we are fist given a glimpse of Cassie we are introduced to her bad a$$ attitude and foul mouth, a girl who likes to smoke and who doesn’t play well with others. Not having read the previous novel in set in the same world, Pretty Amy, as a reader I was still hopelessly drawn to our main character and kept wondering what happened on that catastrophic prom night and what secret Cassie buried inside herself to make her hold such animosity towards other people, especially boys. Burstein dropped little clues through out the story and this kept me reverently turning pages. And the more pages I turned, the more obsessed I became with the characters.

Overall, I can’t say too much about this beautiful novel without spoiling the fun of discovering it for yourselves. If you’re craving a break from the paranormal and want to embrace your emotions, then this is the story you need to grab. I highly recommend it to parents and teens in hopes that you all can laugh and cry together and it opens up the discussion of heavier subjects that most teens find uncomfortable to express to adults. Even though the ending is open and encourages readers to use their imagination, Dear Cassie is a true treasure and should be on every bookshelf.

My Rating
5 out of 5 Controllers


Dear Cassie marks and records the struggle of one young girl who ends up in a rehab camp after a few bad decisions. It’s a touching story that shows us the journey of trust and love when you’ve known nothing but lies and deception. Each page unfolds her battle, both internal and external.

Cassie goes to this camp instead of jail. On prom night, she is out joyriding, with her girlfriends. They had primped, dressed, and were all set to have the night of their lives. That was until their dates failed to show up. In a fit of anger and pain, one of the girls breaks into her boyfriend’s house and steals his stash of weed. The rest is pretty much history, and Cassie pays the ultimate price.

In between this night and days before she leaves, naïve Cassie falls for a boy. She lets down her guard and believes his sweet words. Thing lead to other things, and well you’ll get the whole picture eventually, but I’m not giving it away.

Camp becomes repentance for Cassie as she struggles through the rehabilitation program. It’s designed to teach survival skills. The kids, under supervision, learn to follow rules, prepare meals, build fires, and pitch tents. Most times they must work together, and this is something the kids have a tougher time with.

At night they are asked to write in their journals. It’s an exercise that many of us know, but even Cassie fights writing the bitter truth of why she is here. To her it wasn’t about the drugs or even prom. Only her brother knows the absolute truth of what kind of monster she is.

Over all I enjoyed Dear Cassie. I didn’t get a chance to read the previous book in the series, and it isn’t needed to read this one. I might pick it up in the future though because I found the dropped tidbits rather interesting.

This is a YA book, but how young would be up to the parent and child. While it is relatively clean, there is sexual tension and sex related themes that make up the plot. Sadly, it’s a bit of a spoiler to come out and say what it is. I’d say 17+ is safe, and probably on par for the author’s audience.

The author did a wonderful job in creating Cassie. I liked her spunk, and I found myself laughing at her words/jokes. She reminds me of myself when I was that age, so I can definitely say totally relatable character to anyone who lived through teenage angst.

The ending surprised me. Diayll and I both read this (obviously), but I found myself wanting more closure. All in all it was the only part of the book that I didn’t love, but in the defense of the author, if there is more planned to further the story, then I get why she chose to end it that way. When I first picked up Dear Cassie, I didn’t realize it was a part of a series. Definitely an author and series to watch out for.

My Rating
4.5 out of 5 Controllers

Profile Image for Richa.
430 reviews141 followers
March 20, 2013
Originally posted at City of Books

I admit I haven't read Pretty Amy yet, but I immensely enjoyed Dear Cassie regardless. This book is a companion to Pretty Amy, but it works great as a standalone. I was immediately sucked into Cassie's crazy life, and it was an awesome experience! I definitely have to get around to reading Lisa's other books soon.

I loved how Dear Cassie is written like diary entries. We get to read all of Cassie's deepest thoughts, and the style of writing really helped me connect with her. Cassie is sent to a one-month-long camp for troubled teens, and when I say camp, I mean camp. Wilderness camp. Cassie and the others have to sleep in cabins, gather wood, and basically find out what it's like to live in the wilderness. Cassie hates being there, and desperately counts down the days until she can leave. She also stays the hell away from the other teens. Until, of course, Ben decides not to let her. He gets under her skin, and she's not sure if she likes that. Dear Cassie shows us how Cassie gets past her inhibitions and learns to trust again.

Cassie is freaking awesome. She does swear a lot, like A LOT, but I was totally cool with that. I get that she's gone through so much, and knows how harsh the world can be. She's hesitant to let people in, and that's her undoing. Cassie can't seem to let go of her past, or her so-called friends, Amy and Lila. I do wish I'd read Pretty Amy before this, so I could get a feel of their characters, but this book focuses on Cassie. And I love her character! She's snarky, and isn't afraid to let people know what she thinks. She may be a bit of a smart-ass, but she's a pretty funny one. I loved reading from her perspective. There's also a vulnerable side of her that Ben can bring out, and seeing that was really sweet.

Ben is a guy Cassie meets at the airport, and she's shocked to find out he's also headed to the same camp she's going to. Ben seems really care-free, and he's always grinning and joking around. I found it hilarious how he tried his best to get on Cassie's good side, but she never let him.

Either way, he was doing whatever he could to be my knight in shining armor.
Unfortunately, I was no princess.

This part cracked me up! I felt sorry for Ben considering how hard he tried. At least it didn't go to waste! I love the part where Cassie finally lets Ben in. Their relationship is intense but sweet at the same time.

All the characters in this book are so incredibly unique. I really liked Troyer, who was Cassie's only friend at camp. Other than Ben, of course. She didn't talk at all, but it was so great to see how easily Cassie connected with her, once she let her in. I definitely did not like the remaining girl, Nez. She was definitely something, but she just seemed so bitchy. Though she did redeem herself eventually. It's kind of weird that everyone at camp calls each other by their last names, so we don't even get to find out Troyer and Nez's first names until much later. As for the other guys at the camp, we don't find out at all. But one of them's an asshole and the other didn't do much, so I'm not exactly complaining!

There are sensitive issues addressed in this book that make it seem more NA than YA, but I think Lisa wrote them in really well. Cassie seems so incredibly real to me, because what she went through happens to a lot of people her age. But she got through it, and that's why I admire her strength so much. Cassie really is an amazing character. Seriously, I'd recommend this book to everyone! It's a beautiful contemporary, serious and fun at the same time. And it will make you tear up, I guarantee it. I'm now definitely going to check out Pretty Amy as soon as I can!

*Thank you to Jaime and Rachel at Rockstar Book Tours for picking me for this tour and providing me with a copy for review*
Profile Image for Jodie.
258 reviews38 followers
April 4, 2013
I did not want to put this down once I started it. Needing to know each of their secrets. Fast forward 24 hours and here I am thinking it all through & siphoning through a bunch of questions floating in my mind about Cassie and the 30 day misfits wondering what their futures will hold...

Little rocks popped like popcorn under the tires as we pulled in at a sign that read: Turning Pines Wilderness Camp— Helping Teenagers, One Life at a Time.
Camp? Fucking camp? My parents shipped me all the way to California to sleep in dirt?

I enjoyed the book right from the beginning. I laughed A LOT. And LOUDLY. I liked Cassie. I wonder if that could only have been because I was reading her journal and living her memories, I don't know that she started off all that likeable. I guess one would say there is not many 16 year olds out there that are, but I felt her. I understood her language & her love of hot showers, porcelain toilets, and un-blistered hands as well as her hatred of bugs, and manual labor.

I sat there for a moment, my tailbone throbbing. What was
I doing? I didn’t belong here. This seriously sucked. Even Troyer could chop wood, and she couldn’t even talk.

Actually, I liked all the characters, although it was hard to connect with them as I'm not certain they were developed for us to do so, being journal style we were just seeing them through 1 dimensional snap shots. I will say I really enjoyed Ben. I adored his tenacity but I now wonder why he even wanted to be with Cassie from the beginning. Did he know anything about her at all? Was it that she was hard to get? I'll never know, but I just really liked him. Maybe it was because of what he did for Cassie as a broken girl with so much pain inside.

Ben’s words were like oxygen stoking a fire, and my body a spark. I reached for his hand in the darkness. He rubbed his thumb on the underside of my palm so gently, so deliberately, the kind of touch that, if you let it, has the power to make you go blind.

I LOVED the constant bickering, the canoeing, wood chopping, fire building, pit digging, basketball playing and so many other laugh out loud moments that I can't think of to mention.

The journal entries, lessons, dialogue, cursing, smoking, thought processes, & peer interactions were so authentic & took me back in time to my teenager years where I remembered thinking, feeling and speaking so similar to Cassie. The growth she made in 30 days was not staggering but it was genuine and noticeable. Each day she understood something a little more, or accepted that shitty things happen in life, or even that friends really can suck. She owned her actions, I admired that even though she didn't diarize it all, she lived it.

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was a girl who’d given up when I got here and was still giving up. Even when faced with the possibility of something good, I gave up, because it was easier than knowing it wouldn’t last.

This book moved me. It had me laughing, hysterically at times, but also crying and feeling so saf that Cassie had already faced so much in her short life. It had me rooting for a better future for her & willing her the strength to make better choices going forward.

Well done Ms Burstein. You have a new fan!

Thank you Netgalley & Entangled Publishing for providing an e-galley of this novel for review purposes. This review is my honest thoughts after completing the book and is no way altered by that fact.
Profile Image for Margarita.
301 reviews233 followers
March 4, 2017
Lisa Burstein has done it again - DEAR CASSIE is full of raw emotion and unique characters. Cassie's story picks up after the 'prom arrest' in PRETTY AMY...

Cassie is tough, snarky and seems completely sure of herself. It seemed like nothing could shake this girl. Nothing. And then her and her friends, Amy and Lila, where arrested on prom night. And now she is working at a pizzeria, trying to keep out of trouble until she is shipped off to do her 30 days in rehab at a wilderness camp instead of jail. She's ready for it. Nervous, but anxious to get it done and over with... but before she goes, she meets Adam... secretly starts seeing him... and falls in love.

There are some serious consequences to falling in love; especially with the wrong person.

Cassie arrives at rehab broken but ready to keep the attitude going and to tough things out. She's got her armor on and no one will be able to penetrate it. No one will ever know her dark secret or what she feels and goes through on a daily basis. But under all that toughness, there is a very scared and lonely girl; her bad-girl-I-don't-give-a-shit attitude isn't fooling anyone. And Cassie soon realizes that she is starting to unravel and doesn't know how much she can hold it together until everyone finds out the truth that she's been so desperate to hide.

When Cassie first arrives at camp, she meets Ben, who instantly takes a liking to her and reaches out to her. Ben's story is rare, and he is a good guy. He doesn't care what Cassie's past is about. Ben is willing to accept her, all of her, including her flaws and past. But Cassie has sworn off boys. They're not trustworthy, no one is. She can barely look herself in the eye; and if Ben ever found out the truth about her, he would never want to have anything to do with her. So why waste her time with the emotional roller-coaster of trying to have any type of relationship with him.

And then there are Cassie's roommates: Nez, the pathological liar. Troyer, the mute.
Nez was who Cassie used to be - the person who would take charge of the situation, who would answer back with smart-ass witty remarks. They obviously didn't get along, they were too much alike.
It was hard to understand Troyer at first. She didn't speak and although she did sometimes write things down, it wasn't enough to get a good reading on her, at first. Little by little, Cassie grew patient with her and they did develop a sort of friendship. One that helps Cassie immensely. One that she will never forget.

Lisa Burstein's writing is captivating - you can taste Cassie's angst and worries. You can also feel the grimness and smell the dirt of the camp. It is definitely one that I would never want to vacation at, let alone, send anyone in for rehab. Lisa tackles some tough issues that unfortunately some teens are faced with nowadays, self-harming and pregnancy. And Cassie's casual use of the f-word was to be expected and laughed at. It fit her personality so well, I couldn't imagine her any other way.

Overall, DEAR CASSIE is about forgiveness to oneself. You don't have to forget what has happened, but to learn and grow from it. It's also about letting your walls down, taking chances and finding a way to do better, to liking yourself. Because if you don't don't, no one else will be able to either.
Profile Image for Amy Fournier.
557 reviews157 followers
February 14, 2013
I loved Lisa Burstein's first book, Pretty Amy and have been eagerly awaiting Cassie's story. It was everything I expected and more. I knew she was a broken person, more broken than Amy, but I didn't expect to embrace her as much as I did. I saw more of myself in Cassie, then I did in Amy so I think it was easier to connect with her. Their personalities were so different, yet the books gave me that same raw emotion. I really just love Lisa Burstein's writing and she has become an auto-buy author for me. She is able to capture the dark and real emotions that the characters go through so well that you want to climb inside the book and either hug them, yell at them, or smack some sense into them. That is what I look for in a book. That's what makes a book reach my favorites list!

Cassie is not a character that I liked very much at first. The perception we get of her from Amy's story really makes her seem like a bully who doesn't care about anyone except herself, and really, she kind of is. But when you start to get to know the real her, and she gets to know herself better, things really change. It was so heartbreaking to know that she was beating her self up both literally and figuratively over something that she had gone through. That she wasn't able to forgive herself and thought she needed to be punished. She felt like she deserved worse than what she was going through. It was so sad to read some of it. She is not really a strong person for most of the book. When we start off she is actually weak, hopeless, unforgiving, and very much alone. It isn't until she lets herself open up, just barely to one of her cabin mates, and to Ben that she is able to start wanting to change herself. To start forgiving herself for things that she can't change. In the end, I really liked Cassie.

What I really loved about this one was Ben. He is such a big part of it and he was so funny, and charming, but could still be super aggravating at times too. I loved the lightness he was able to bring to it. He never lets up on Cassie even when she tries so hard to push him away. He knows that there is a better person underneath than what she shows on the surface. He also knows that she is really hurting inside and wants to help her. He wants to care about her and have her care back. Ben was quite a mystery for a lot of the book. We know why everyone else is at this camp from hell, but we don't find out why Ben is there until almost the end and it made me love him that much more! I loved that he pushed Cassie's buttons and wouldn't let her shut him down no matter how many times she tried. He knew he wanted to get to know her and that there is a good soul inside of her even if she didn't think so.

This book was amazing. I love to read stories that are realistic, honest, and deep. I love being proven wrong about what I might initially think of certain characters and grow to like, and even sometimes love them when I thought there was no way. The beauty and honesty of the writing is just breathtaking. I love how much Lisa Burstein can make me feel while reading her words on a page. I loved Amy's story, I loved Cassie's story, and I can't wait for Lila's story because I have no doubt I will love that too.
Profile Image for Cyle.
958 reviews130 followers
March 28, 2013
GENRE: YA Contemporary
THEME: Romance, Drama
BLOG: http://seeingnight.blogspot.com/

After hearing a lot of good things about Pretty Amy, I was excited to read another chapter in Lisa Burstein series about three girls whose lives change after prom night. Dear Cassie is the second book and connects to Amy’s story in Pretty Amy. Even though I didn’t read the first book, Dear Cassie was easy to jump into and connect with the characters while learning about what really happened that night.

Dear Cassie follows Cassie as she is off to a camp to go through rehab after what happened, but there is something else that deep down is tearing her apart. As she tries to deal with the rustic outdoors and hard work during camp, she has to deal with the other campers and one boy who she wishes she could ignore.

Cassie is a complicated and broken character, she has a lot of issues that she needs to over come and her life wasn’t easy to begin with. Emotionally this story will hit the readers with the flashbacks that come out from Cassie writing in her diary. I was curious from the start on what secrets Cassie was hiding and if she would ever reveal anything. What I liked most is that her connection and trust in her brother, the only person who gets her. For me Cassie is extremely rough around the edges, I liked her spunk and wished she wouldn’t keep pushing Ben away. In the end as the reader you’ll root for her to get past what happen and try to find something or someone to make her happy.

There are some very colorful and entertaining side characters that help Cassie and push her while at camp. Ben is the love interest and at the beginning have a major love hate relationship, Cassie is just plain annoyed with him. I liked their dynamic and how opposite they were. The reader’s see how sweet this guy is, just trying so hard to get Cassie to open up. Also Cassie’s bunkmates Nez and Troyer, who are both socially different from Cassie. Troyer is quiet and later on connects with Cassie and they become close friends. She has her reasons for being there but mostly I felt her parents gave up because she wouldn’t talk. Nez is a frustrating girl that clashes immediately with Cassie. I liked her boy crazy attitude and that I couldn’t quite figure her out. In the end this made for a interesting journey to read about and how they all go through this “rehab” along with Cassie.

Overall this was wonderfully well written and the pace keeps you guessing with trying to find out Cassie’s secret. My only issue was the language. Cassie is a hard character who hides behind her tough attitude but cursing to this extent was over the top at times. But past that I really enjoyed this story of understanding, heartache, growth and trying to move forward. I look forward to reading Pretty Amy now that I have finished this one. I’m curious as to Amy’s actions and see Cassie from another POV.

This is a Young Adult novel with mature content for language. Fans of Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols and Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally will enjoy Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,334 followers
April 4, 2013

After the not-so-positive experience I had with Pretty Amy, I went into Dear Cassie, expecting Cassie to be a character that I would dislike. Surprisingly, going into the book not expecting to like it as much definitely made it a much more pleasant experience. Dear Cassie was a definite improvement from Pretty Amy.

Cassie was a very broken character, like expected of Lisa Burstein's main characters. Unlike Amy though, Cassie's reasons for being a fractured character were not only prevalent but they were also believable. In Pretty Amy, I never really formed any kind of connection with Cassie. To be honest, I disliked her attitude and her behavior. In Dear Cassie though, she grew a lot more likable and I found it easier to connect with her at a deeper level. She was the kind of teenager who wanted things out of life, but due to events life wasn't easy for her. She had gone through multiple ups and downs for someone her age and sympathizing with her situation was easy. Cassie was bitter and full of hatred, but once the reader gets inside her head, he or she understands what is going on with her. At the camp, Cassie underwent growth, albeit very slowly. Even though her growth took some time, I thought it was realistic. By the end of the book, Cassie was definitely not the same person she was when she was introduced. Along with her bitter attitude, Cassie was also a humorous and witty main characters who was constantly insulting others. Some of her lines were very funny in my opinion. Lisa Burstein also went to lengths to bring her secondary characters to life. I loved each and everyone of the secondary characters because they were so vivid and complex.

Dear Cassie was the story of Cassie's growth and the story of a teenager letting go of her past by trying to forgive herself. My favorite part of the book was the blossoming friendships that Cassie developed. Unlike her old friends, her new friends were so much more realistic and I was happy that she found such good friends. The love interest, Ben, was also the kind that I love in my YA books : Sweet, determined and utterly charming! Ben played a big role in Cassie's growth and I loved watching him push her buttons and forcing her to take a better look at her life. The romance was written at the perfect pace and I couldn't help but fall for Ben. From Dear Cassie, I have come to the conclusion that Lisa Burstein has really grown as a writer from her first book. Not only did she do a fabulous job at crafting characters easy to root for, she also tackled important teenage issues masterfully.

Dear Cassie, as a companion novel, exceeded my expectations. After reading this book, I am convinced that it is not going to be my last book from the author. If you're looking at a realistic experience of a teenager in rehab, this is definitely the book to read.
Profile Image for Angie.
2,332 reviews227 followers
December 17, 2014
Much like its companion Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie is not a happy read. It’s another hard punch of reality that continues with the consequences of Amy, Cassie, and Lila’s disastrous prom night. This time we’re following Cassie to rehab as part of her sentencing. However, it’s not the medical facility that she was expecting. It’s a camp in the middle of the woods where she’ll have to learn how to survive in the wilderness on her own while reflecting on the choices that landed her there. It’s not only the massive amount of marijuana and driving under the influence that have brought Cassie to Turning Pines. She has a secret that she can’t even talk to herself about.

I really liked the format of Dear Cassie. Each chapter is one day at the camp. Sometimes Cassie is telling us about what strenuous activity they had to perform that day, or she shares from her Assessment Diary. She also goes into the prom night events, so even if you haven’t read Pretty Amy, you’ll know exactly what happened. It turns out that Aaron played a huge role in her life after the arrest, too, and he’s the biggest factor that she won’t talk about. The story does get a little repetitive with us getting the ins and outs of camp life, but I did enjoy Cassie’s reflections on her time there.

The one thing that I did not like was the romance. I didn’t feel like it needed to be there at all. Cassie meets Ben at the airport before they’re whisked away to the campground. Then he spends much of their co-ed time annoying her, or rather, Cassie spends most of the being being annoyed by him. I just never felt an attraction between them, and I actually did find Ben irritating at times. I do understand that Ben was another challenge for her to face, since she wants to avoid boys, but it felt forced and like an obvious plot device.

I did enjoy the other characters though! Troyer was my favorite though. She doesn’t speak at all, but she’s the one that helps Cassie open up the most. I found myself most curious as to what brought her to rehab. Nez was just a bitch! I loved to hate, but at times she was a bit much. She takes slut to a whole other level! She’s a source of much frustration for Cassie. Even their counselor, Rawe, was a good source of entertainment. You could tell that she wanted to help, but that she was also irritated with the bickering between the girls.

I did enjoy Dear Cassie a lot despite my complaints. I didn’t like it quite as much as Pretty Amy, but I think that just comes down to me finding Amy more relatable than Cassie. Of course, this will be different for each reader. I like how the author isn’t afraid to show the darker side to being a teenager. Sure hanging out with friends and being rebellious can be fun, but it can also have some major repercussions.

Read more of my reviews at Pinkindle Reads & Reviews.
Profile Image for Stephanie Ward.
1,175 reviews116 followers
March 26, 2013
'Dear Cassie' is a raw and emotional novel about Cassie Wick, whose life has basically sucked for as long as she can remember - and only gets worse after prom. She's arrested for crimes she and her two best friends committed the night of prom. Only the one behind everything that happened that night has taken off and the other friend ratted Cassie out in order to avoid punishment. Now Cassie's left taking all the blame and she's being shipped across the country to rehab. But this rehab isn't what Cassie's expecting - this is a rundown summer camp reformed into rough rehab for messed up kids like her. The real reason Cassie believes she's been sent to this hell on Earth isn't because of what they did on prom night - it's what happened afterwards - what a cute guy made her believe and the horrible things that happened because of it. Now Cassie's tough outer shell is threatening to break wide open and all her secrets and pent up feelings are going to come gushing out. To make matters worse - there's a sweet guy at Turning Pines who is hell bent on getting to her, even though she swore she would never let it happen again.

This was a deeply emotional and very real novel about a teenage girl's life and the consequences one must make in life - along with the heavy toll they will take. Cassie was a great main character - she was obviously very flawed and damaged, but she doesn't try to hide it. She knows that she has big issues and she's trying her best to fight her feelings by keeping everyone - including herself - from getting close to her heart. We get to see Cassie undergo major character growth and maturation throughout the novel, which is deeply personal and emotional for both the character and the reader. I had an inkling of Cassie's secret early on in the novel, although it takes a good while for her to admit to it in the book. Her journal entries, which make up the book, show her struggling with the truth and not being able to accept or forgive herself. It was an interesting choice to use journal entries as the way of telling the story, but it works really well because the reader gets to see the occurrences throughout the novel along with getting to experience Cassie's thoughts and feelings. The entire novel was gritty and realistic with lots of emotion and even some romance thrown in. It felt like reading a real journal of someone going through these terrible events, which I liked because it felt authentic. The novel deals with some deep topics like love, forgiveness, self realization, guilt, family, and friendship. It deals a lot with personal issues like forgiving yourself, accepting your flaws and shortcomings, learning to move on from devastating choices and events, and taking control of your own life. Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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