Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What You Always Wanted (If Only . . ., #8)” as Want to Read:
What You Always Wanted (If Only . . ., #8)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What You Always Wanted

(If Only . . . #8)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  526 ratings  ·  125 reviews
If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.

Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his w
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What You Always Wanted, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kristin Bloomsbury marketed the book as appropriate for ages 12+. It is a "romance" but doesn't progress past kissing. …moreBloomsbury marketed the book as appropriate for ages 12+. It is a "romance" but doesn't progress past kissing. (less)
Kristin It's not a series, but rather a YA romance line of books all centered around a common theme: "We always want what we can't have." All eight books in t…moreIt's not a series, but rather a YA romance line of books all centered around a common theme: "We always want what we can't have." All eight books in the line are considered appropriate for ages 12+. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  526 ratings  ·  125 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of What You Always Wanted (If Only . . ., #8)
Aug 22, 2014 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
**Please note - some important changes have been made after the printing of advance copies, so please quote from the final published version after March 29, 2016** xoxo

I wrote this one from a special place in my heart. I can't wait to share it with y'all in 2016!
Now that this is closer to releasing, I'm posting my full review.

This book, y'all.


What You Always Wanted is everything I want in a contemporary romance. The characters are on point. The pacing is quick. The romance is so adorable I thought I might die of the cute. And the MC is one of the most precious heroines I've read in a YA novel in a long time.

Maddie Brooks loves classic movies, especially ones with heartthrob Gene Kelly. Because of this, she has extremely high standards for boys
Jen Malone
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My entire review can be encapsulated in one word: swooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooony!!!
nick (the infinite limits of love)
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc


I've been struggling with YA contemporary books lately which is sad because it's probably my favorite genre. The books I've read this year in the genre have left me frustrated, so while I was originally excited about What You Always Wanted, part of me was also nervous that the book would read too young. I had nothing to worry about because this book was just what I needed with its adorableness to revive my faith in YA contemporary. I was smiling the whole time because of just how cute and fl

Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*This review will appear on A Leisure Moment*

**I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I actually watched Gene Kelly’s Summer Stock dance after finishing this book, and I think I’m in love with Gene Kelly now and need all of his movies. Maddie Brooks, the main character, was true to herself and didn’t let anyone define what she wanted to become. She had high expectations when it came to falling in love or simply having a boyfriend and wanted no less than her pict
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! But seriously, What You Always Wanted was ADORABLE. There are seriously no words for how lovely, and fun, and well-written this story was. I was immediately drawn into Maddie's world, and her head, and I loved reading her narration of her story. It never felt cheesy or manufactured, but instead just made me a warm gooey mess of happiness whenever certain (ahem) moments happened. It was funny, it was sweet and it was also pretty darn entertaining. I definitely enjoyed it! ...more
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grade: A-
An e-galley was provided by the publisher in exchange for review consideration.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Gah, I just love cute, swoonworthy contemporary YA. I love characters with substance and friendships and genuinely nice love interests. And let me tell you - Kristin Rae writes great love interests. Darren from Wish You Were Italian is so adorable, and I loved that Jesse was just as fleshed-out as Maddie. I also enjoyed that Maddie wasn't as snobby as I expected - Angela and T
Laurence R.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
What an amazing YA! I've read a good amount of books from that genre by now, but some of them still truly impress me, and this novel was one of those!

The first aspect of this book that charmed me was the fact that it's so easy to relate to, especially for bookworms. In this novel, Maddie has extremely high standards because of all the movies she's seen, which all have perfect gentlemen in them. Is anyone here familiar with this? I am, but because of books. Since I can relate to Maddie very much
Apr 12, 2016 added it
Shelves: young-adult
Cute YA
flawed yet likable characters
growth of characters
Present and caring family dynamics
Positive female friendships (Thank you so much for this!!)
Author from Houston
diversity and teens dealing with cultural pressures/stereotypes etc

The neither good nor bad:
I saw it was set in Houston but because the Houston area is so big it really is set in an area that is at the edge in a smaller satellite suburb kind of town nearly in the country. Not bad just didn't feel like the Houston I know w
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
So I had a baby in the middle of reading this otherwise I would have devoured it in a day or two. Sweet, without too much teenage angst (and no sex or alcohol which seems to be the norm in YA books now!) I love a story about an "old soul" teenager. And my favorite movie of all time is Singing in the Rain so this book and I bonded. :) ...more
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, young-adult
When I saw this book was about a theater girl falling for a baseball player, I felt like my whole high school existence came hurtling back to me. Especially since THIS WAS ME. I was the high school theater girl (who totally did the musical Crazy For You junior year) and I dated a baseball player. Granted, I wasn't obsessed with Gene Kelly and my then boyfriend definitely had NO former talent as a dancer. Hah. I saw a lot of myself in Maddie though and not just the theater connection. I also had ...more
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, physical-2016

Here is my full review:

What an adorable, swoony read! I loved every minute of this book. Kristin Rae has done it again with this one.

What You Always Wanted is the story of Maddie, a high school theater junkie that has been uprooted from Chicago and planted in the rolling hills of Texas. Maddie has always had incredibly high standards for any potential love interest because of her deep love for classical movies of old Hollywood. Maddie starts to
Katie W
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Maddie is new in town and quickly befriends her neighbors, joins the drama club, and worms her way into the school and community. Theater is her life and her only true love (Gene Kelly) is dead. She's a very dramatic, yet likable girl. I love her easy calm in handling her life changes, even the surprises that upset her. I love her new friends and they way they're all so different, yet so similar. They really mesh well together. Jesse is her best friend's older brother and he's talented, good-loo ...more
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Maddie is so enamored with Gene Kelly that no other guy can possibly compete so why bother. She's never been kissed as a result (for good reason). She's egocentric enough to think nothing but theater matters, even though she's now living in sports-mad Texas. The hunk across the street doesn't advertise his dancing skills because he's more invested in his college/pro potential as a baseball pitcher. So she browbeats the crap out of him and somehow is wounded when he repeated tells her to leave hi ...more
L. Chase
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic movies? Gene Kelly references? High school theater? BE STILL MY HEART.

If you like Stephanie Perkins, Emery Lord, or Elizabeth Eulberg, then make Kristin Rae your next read! Her characters are complex, realistically-flawed, lovable, strong, and good-hearted. This novel's pacing is lightspeed quick--and the voice very accessible and funny. This book also has great girl-friendships running through it, which are some of the most wonderful relationships in the book!

Of course, when it comes to
A Leisure Moment

Love musicals, the classics, or an independent girl finding her way? This book is for you. There isn’t actually any music involved, but I felt like singing along. Escape to Texas for about three hundred pages—ya’ll will love it!


Seriously, read this book!

To read the rest of the review, simply follow the link:
I have really, really strong appreciation for this book, because not only is it a really cute romance, but A) it has a really different MC, and it's kinda nice how hard she is to be won over and how generic hotness and athleticism doesn't do it, and more importantly B) I've never seen a YA before where the LI was both athletic and theatrically artistic (Jesse tap dances) and the MC is far more drawn to the more traditionally feminine trait. It's interesting, too, how that plays out, and I really ...more
McKenna Rice
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a Christmas gift from my roommate last year. I don't normally read this type of book, but I picked it up yesterday, maybe because I hadn't read it yet or maybe because I missed my roommate, who is currently serving an 18-month LDS mission in Samoa. Reading this book was like hearing her voice again, it reminded me so much of her. It's cheesy and simple and cute, and I found myself liking it more than I had originally planned on. I wouldn't have picked this book out for myself, ...more
Mandie Baxter
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love a good sweet, swoon worthy book! Kristin does a fantastic job of taking real life struggles and blending them with fantastic settings and like able characters (or not so like able in the case of Rica...haha) and sprinkles it all with kissing scenes. Can't wait to see what she's writing next. ...more
Becky Osmon
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Cute. Highly recommend for theater nerds.
Lisa (lifeinlit)
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars!

Ahhhh!! This was SO ADORABLE!! I went into What You Always Wanted with my expectations pretty high. I mean, I adored Wish You Were Italian last year, and the anticipation to get my hands on Kirstin Rae's second book was pretty torturous. And yay, this one was just as adorable as I had hoped!!

Maddie is obsessed with classic movies. Like REALLY obsessed... to the point where she compares every guy in her life to Gene Kelly. He is utter perfection in her eyes, and no other guy seems t
Kathrine Whitfield
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is about a young girl named Maddie and she moves to Texas from Chicago. She meets new people and meets two guys. One is Brian and the other is Jessie. She falls for Jessie but later in the book, they brake up because Maddie is trying to change him but in the end, they make up and both of them fulfill their dreams.
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love when a book makes you smile from beginning to end. Specially, when it's a book that you were not expecting to swoon over. Maddie is a funny character and had me laughing throughout this story. I loved how this story took me by surprise.

I went through a period in which I wanted to watch all 80s movies. It's a great way to expand your knowledge in something that you love. This is what I loved most about Maddie. I love her enthusiasm for movies and her knowledge in great cinema. Although th
May 25, 2016 rated it did not like it

Btw, this is probably practically absolutely not the authors fault, it's more likely to be the fault of the publishing company or maybe somehow the libraries' fault? I just don't understand, this book was brand new. How could this happen?

Btw #2, I decided not to review this book because it is not the kind of book I'd normally read or pick fo
Jeff Raymond
Closer to a 3.5.

I'm always surprised that YA books don't push the theater/performing arts nerd angles more. We've seen a few published over the last 18 months, but, having been a theater and chorus geek myself, it's fertile ground for a lot of the sorts of love triangles and situations in play with groups like those. What You Always Wanted mines that cavern a bit and mostly works as a fluffy teen romance that is reminiscent of those times, but lacks the weight it could have had.

In this tale, Mad
Megan Swan
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK SOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!! I think the author wrote about my obsession with Gene Kelly! 🎥 🎭
Natalie D.
What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae is centered around Maddie Brooks, who is into theater and dreams about singing and dancing with her idol Gene Kelly, and Jesse Morales, who is a popular baseball player at their high school, and who also secretly tap-dances. Their story is mainly set in a city in Texas, after Maddie's family moved there to be closer to Maddie's older brother and his university. After carpooling home early in the book, Maddie and Jessie discover that they live right across th ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. It was good because it had some of the stuff I like in it, like baseball. I thought this book was good, but also confusing. She has these sorts of daydreams where her real life is mixed in with all her favorite old movies so you don't really know if she is actually saying these things or the other person is saying these things or if it is just her imagination. Overall I thought it was really good. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes sports, drama/theatre, or ...more
Sarvenaz Tash
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you have a thing for Gene Kelly, classic movies, and theater...this book is for you. In other words, this book was definitely for me and I was utterly delighted by all the references to all of the above. Maddie was such a great character to root for, and it was SO fun to read about a teen I would have 100% been friends with in high school.
Loved!! I truly loved everything about this story and I was so excited to receive an advance copy of it. The story was the perfect mix of everything special I could want in what I am reading. I also loved the characters. Highly recommended!!
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Young Adult Conte...: #15 What You Always Wanted 1 8 Apr 09, 2017 06:11PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Challenge Accepted
  • Autumn's Kiss (Autumn Falls, #2)
  • A Week of Mondays
  • The Dating Dare
  • Let's Get Lost
  • The Romantic Pact (Kings of Football, #2)
  • A Hot Cold Summer
  • The Art of Us
  • The Code for Love and Heartbreak
  • The Wrong Bachelor
  • Chasing Lucky
  • What I Like About You
  • ハイキュー!! 3 [Haikyū!! 3]
  • ハイキュー!! 2 [Haikyū!! 2]
  • The Voting Booth
  • You Have a Match
  • Love at First
  • Edge of the Past (Edge, #2)
See similar books…
Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. My young adult contemporary novels WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, and WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED are out now, from Bloomsbury. Represented by Marietta Zacker of the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

Other books in the series

If Only . . . (8 books)
  • Fool Me Twice (If Only . . ., #1)
  • Wish You Were Italian (If Only . . ., #2)
  • Not in the Script (If Only . . . , #3)
  • Wild Hearts (If Only . . ., #4)
  • Red Girl, Blue Boy (If Only . . ., #5)
  • Everything But the Truth (If Only . . ., #6)
  • Just Like the Movies (If Only . . ., #7)

News & Interviews

Looking for some out-of-this-world reading this summer? Then we suggest taking a peek at these highly anticipated young adult books, all...
58 likes · 10 comments
“Angela returns to the table, frowning. “She won’t think her own brother’s hot. That’s sick.” “Like you don’t know yours is hot,” Tiffany shoots back, looking to me for support. I shrug and look at Angela. “He isn’t even close to my type, but he’s not exactly terrible to look at.” Angela and Tiffany both go silent, looking over my head with wide eyes. Tiffany bites her lip. A soft laugh rings out just behind me. “Thanks? I think.” 0 likes
“Contrary to popular belief, Texas is not all tumbleweeds, cacti, and horses. I haven't seen a desert yet, and the people in Houston mostly look the same as people from back home, but with the occasional set of cowboy boots.” 0 likes
More quotes…