A boy desperate to hold on, a girl ready to let go.
Fitz Holton waits in fear for the day his single mother's early-onset Alzheimer's starts stealing her memory. He's vowed to stay close to home to care for her in the years to come--never mind the ridiculous college tour she's forcing him on to visit schools where he knows he'll never go. Juniper Ramirez is counting down the days until she can leave home, a home crowded with five younger siblings and zero privacy. Against the wishes of her tight-knit family, Juniper plans her own college tour of the East Coast with one goal: get out.
When Fitz and Juniper cross paths on their first college tour in Boston, they're at odds from the moment they meet-- while Juniper's dying to start a new life apart for her family, Fitz faces the sacrifices he must make for his. Their relationship sparks a deep connection--in each other's eyes, they glimpse alternate possibilities regarding the first big decision of their adult lives.
Time of Our Lives is a story of home and away, of the wonder and weight of memory, of outgrowing fears and growing into the future.
Emily Wibberley attended Princeton University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Austin Siegemund-Broka, with whom she is author of The Roughest Draft, as well as several love stories for teens.
i cant really put my finger on why i didnt enjoy this one as much as EW & ASBs other books. i think they are the most adorable couple ever and love the fact that they are high school sweethearts who write stories together.
that being said, something feels… missing. dont get me wrong - i love the idea of it. i enjoyed seeing both fitz and juniper go through their development both individually and together. i like the dynamic between their two characters and its easy to see how they offer each other something important. i also feel like a lot of teens will be able to relate to this story whole-heartedly, which is nice. but i feel like i love the idea of it much more than the thing itself. if that makes sense.
im not too bummed by my lukewarm reaction to this as i still think EW & ASBs are really relevant and fun authors, so im looking forward to the next book they write.
Time of Our Lives, the newest novel from husband-and-wife writing duo Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a thought-provoking YA romance with surprising emotional depth.
“Do you think a guy who dreads forgetting the past and a girl who’s focused on the future could, you know, be friends?”
Juniper is immensely smart, driven, a total planner. The oldest child in a large, tight-knit family, she’s always the one people depend on, and she can’t wait to spread her wings and experience college on her own. But how willingly will her family let her go?
On the other hand, Fitz knows exactly what he wants—to go to college close to home so he can care for his mother, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. But she is determined that he experience life away from home and her, so she plans a week-long tour of colleges on the East Coast he’ll take with his older brother, a college student with whom Fitz hasn’t seen eye-to-eye in a while.
Fitz encounters Juniper while she’s on a college tour of her own. They couldn’t be more at odds with each other’s goals, yet they immediately feel a connection—which Juniper is determined to keep platonic since she’s touring colleges with her boyfriend. But as the two keep running into each other, they start to realize the impact they’re having on one another, far beyond the physical attraction they feel.
Time of Our Lives is such a gripping story about how easy it can be to live your life for someone else rather than yourself, and how hard it can be not to feel guilty about wanting to take your own path. It’s also a moving commentary about what makes memories.
Emily and Austin are a fantastic writing team. The book feels seamless, not like two people wrote it. Their books are really enjoyable, but I loved this one, and stayed up late to devour it. And even hours later, I'm still thinking about it.
I love Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka's first two books. LOVED them. I couldn't wait to get my hands on Time of Our Lives. Though I liked this book, unfortunately it didn't hit the spot the same way the first two did, I just had trouble connecting. Overall it was a good read for me, it just wasn't great.
Juniper and Fitz are both going on college tours, though their situations couldn't be more different. Fitz has no intention of going to a college that's not local. He's planning on staying near home to help his mom, even though she is encouraging him to go explore. Juniper wants nothing more than to go to a college out of state, but her family wants her to stay near. In a serendipitous way, they run into each other on their first stop.
I loved the family dynamic of both of these stories and I liked both of the main characters. I just never felt connected to them or the two of them together. I'm a little bummed this wasn't a five star favorite, but I'm looking forward to reading more from this author duo, because I've absolutely adored everything else they've written!
I totally respect what this book is trying to do. And what, I imagine, it will successfully do for many readers. It just didn't quite work for me.
This is such a great representation of the mixed emotions young people (I was young once!) feel going into the next stage (ie, post-high school) of their lives. The momentum that pushes them forward to escape their current situation (overbearing family, no room to be yourself, too much responsibility at too young an age, etc) and the reluctance to go too far afield (family obligations, health, anxiety, worry, etc). These characters were perfect representations of those, often conflicting though sometimes singular, feelings. I felt it.
"I already know what the future holds. It's right now that has the potential to be extraordinary."
Where this book failed for me, I think, was I didn't quite love the characters. I didn't love what followed their initial meeting and connection, and how that all came about, and I was hard pressed to believe how quickly they just "got" each other. Thankfully this relationship wasn't smooth sailing, I appreciated the arguments, the speed bumps, but overall it did kind of stretch my belief. Maybe if I had liked them more, I would've bought it? I don't know. Part of me had hoped this had gone a different way, been a story that connected these characters but didn't quite overlap.. she says, vaguely.
There's a claustrophobia in comfort. The threads become a web, confining the person I want to be to the person I was.
There are definitely emotional elements to this story, with some suffocating but reassuring (for the character) familial roles (honestly, the first few chapters dealing with Juniper's family made me want to break out in hives, but that's just me) and some heartbreaking health issues when it comes to a parent. Again, like before, I could feel it. But..
But overall, no matter how great the writing, how stunning some of the turns of phrase, this was a story very character-focused, and I just couldn't love them. The characters. Also, a certain cameo from IF I'M BEING HONEST made me so mad initially.. but that was redeemed. Had it not? I would've been devastated.
So this was a mixed bag, but also a strong read. These authors are definitely talented, and not writing the same story in each release (thank goodness for that), but this was also not what I got from IF I'M BEING HONEST and maybe, in part, that's also contributing to some disappointment. Even though I said different things are great. And they are. If you've enjoyed this duo before, I think you'll like this, too. Maybe not as much, maybe more. Who is to say. What I can say, though, is even though I didn't love it, I'll continue to read whatever they put out.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Time Of Our Lives follows young Juniper and Fitz who are both about to graduate, with very differing future perspectives. Fitz fears college and everything that it encompasses – mainly leaving his mother who’s diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. Fitz is running against the clock, trying to figure out a way to make his mother understand why he wants to stay close to home, while she’s trying to get him to consider colleges farther away and to live his life without worrying about her. Juniper’s the exact opposite. She is constantly reprimanded by her argumentative aunt, always somehow in trouble for what her younger siblings get up to, Juniper can’t wait to get as far away from home as humanly possible. When Juniper and Fitz meet, each on their own college tour, two worlds collide.
At odds from the very first moment, neither seems to be able to understand the other. Fitz questions why Juniper would ever want to leave her family whereas Juniper doesn’t understand why Fitz would take on all that responsibility for a future that might not materialise until years down the line. What they both begin to realise though is that sometimes, circumstances can’t be what you want them to be, and sometimes, they’re exactly what you need without knowing it.
You know that feeling when you’re reading a story with two point of views and can’t wait for one to be over so you can read about your favourite character again? Yeah, this wasn’t the case here. I was equally invested in both Fitz’s and Juniper’s individual journey and even gladder when their paths collided. Fitz’s storyline, especially was such a refreshing one to find in young adult contemporary. Instead of being selfishly ignorant of other’s needs, Fitz feels compelled to sacrifice his future to keep his mother safe and happy. Even his stilted relationship with his brother Lewis was beautifully explored and showed that sometimes, by trying to protect the people we love, we end up hurting them more. But this is a book filled with second chances, with realising that family comes first but doesn’t mean that you yourself aren’t important, too. Both Fitz and Juniper learn from each other and end up becoming better versions of themselves by showing what the other might not see because they’re too close to their family.
Sure, there were some awkward YA sentences thrown into the mix about how the guy isn’t aware of how hot he really is and the girl does seem to be getting over her relationship way too quickly considering she wanted to spent her future with another guy, but that still didn’t take my enjoyment of the story away.
All in all, this was a wonderful contemporary about two people anticipating and fearing their futures and coming to grips with the realities of having to leave their home to build their own identity away from the places they’ve grown up in. I’d recommend this to anyone who is about to graduate and has some existential fears about leaving those they love to figure out who they themselves are. A beautiful story about what it means to grow up, grow apart and find the way back to the ones you love.
Oops. Guess who marathoned this in the wee hours of the morning, all at once, so very quickly?
Time of Our Lives takes a different approach than Wibbroka's former novels. Not just in the way that it's dual POV and takes place on the East Coast, but to storytelling overall. This is very much more of a coming-of-age story than a romance, focusing a lot on the main characters and their individual struggles and what they learn from each other.
Of course there are romantic undertones with Juniper and Fitz, but so much of this book is about Fitz grappling with the concept of memory and his mother's early onset Alzheimer's and his brother's neglect of the family. And Juniper trying to reconcile pursuing a college education and getting to achieve her dreams in that environment, but also not losing sight of family and home.
I think if you walk in expecting a romcom like Wibbroka's past books, you're going to be a little disappointed. But if you're looking at a story about two teens trying to figure out their future when their lives are so unstable, who find romance at an inconvenient time where everything is hovering on the edge of a new beginning, this is for you.
It's a little bit bittersweet (I want!!! more!!!) and very serendipitous (but not unbelievably so--I also encountered the same kid at multiple colleges in the Northeast when I went touring), but another contemporary stunner from Wibbroka.
3.5 stars for the feeling of homesickness for a home you can never return to
I've read and loved the two other books by this author duo, they were light-hearted YA rom-coms and I expected this one to be similiar. I didn't really read the discription and was a bit surprised upon actually reading the book.
Time of Our Lives felt a lot more serious. I wouldn't describe it as a rom-com - there wasn't a comedic element and the romance didn't feel like the main plot.
The book takes place over a week, during which the characters go on a road trip visiting prospective colleges. I love books with travelling - they always have this whimsical atmosphere to me, remind me escaping from reality, almost feel like magic realism. This feeling was my favourite part of Time of Our Lives .
Unfortunately, I felt separated from the main character's conflicts - I understood them but couldn't connect. This might be just because my personal struggles are so different from theirs, which felt very foreign.
The plot itself had quite a lot of filler imo - I am writing this review right after finishing the book and I honestly can barely remember the first half.
Time of Our Lives also focused on one character's (Fitz) growth more than the other's. I could truly see how he changed and deveoped during the book. Juniper's internal conflict felt very unimportant in comparison to Fitz's - she has a big family and they expect her to be there for them from time to time. So what? Where's the tragedy? I would get it if her relationships with relatives vere unhealthy, but they weren't. She literally has everything and wants to escape from it for what? I couldn't tell you. I also don't understand why her only two choices were stay at home for college or leave and literally never speak to them again. Also her whole arc was
I get that she was written to have a mindset totally opposite from Fitz's but her whole storyline was poorly thought-out. And don't get me started on her boyfriend - he had absolutely no purpose.
The romance didn't deliver the proper punch. All I felt was "meh".
I loved the little glimpses of "college culture" throughout the book and now I kinda miss uni ://
Overall, the idea was great, the execution kinda iffy. I feel just ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
For this being my first book by this author duo I really enjoyed it! I want to say a big thank you to my friend Erin who sent me this arc for trade and I truly enjoyed it! I'll have more thoughts to come soon...
Look, one day I'll write a piece on what constitutes addicting, memorable reads, or maybe even how hard it is and what it takes for a fervently-anticipated book to live up to the hype you've built for it, and when someone asks me to name an example, I'll pelt them with copies of this book and tell them to see what I'm talking about for themselves.
I've made it no secret that I'll pick up anything this author duo writes. Ever since I sneak-read IF I'M BEING HONEST (2019) back in early April of last year instead of studying for AP exams (I loved it AND did well, so it was a win-win, okay?) and picked up ALWAYS NEVER YOURS (2018) over the summer before college, I’ve been solidly hooked.
I admit I have a special relationship with these books. You know those old 2000’s Disney shows whose seasons span a period of time so you see both yourself AND the actors grow up at the same time, and it makes you feel extra close to the show? It becomes nostalgic, relatable, and almost personal, in a way. This is how I feel about these books. I read IF I'M BEING HONEST when I, like the MC, was an ambitious senior in high school. And now, as a college freshman still getting over this weird transitional life phase, I get to read about TIME OF OUR LIVES’s two MCs also trying to make sense of this uncertainty, and this emotion is captured so perfectly that I actually had to just stop and reread and admire because my sole thought – put oh-so-eloquently – was: holy shit, this is it. This, right here, is the feeling exactly.
But now you ask – what is this book actually about, Nina, and what makes it so special?
Simply put, TIME OF OUR LIVES is about two college-bound seniors with different outlooks on the future who meet during a time when a pressuring countdown clock hangs over them both. Fitz fears the future. Juniper races for it. And through skilled author-y sorcery, the reader relates to them both from page one even though, from the outset, they appear to be polar opposites.
I’m gonna bring out the infamous List of Loves. It’s the only way to keep my thoughts straight when all I want to do is rave.
1. THE CAST
It’s dual-narrated (!!!) this time with voices that are super distinct but still seamlessly connected. To give a super-quick rundown of the leads:
- cares deeply and is Worry Incarnate - is a quiet soft shameless word nerd - is very relatable. for example, i, too, can only do one (1) successful push-up before i immediately Die. - when realizes he has Feelings his plan is immediately just –\
- will steal all your chocolate - is fiercely ambitious and won’t let you forget it - could punch me and i’d say thank you - will fight u on occasion - disrespect said ambitions and she will CERTAINLY fight u so beware
2. The dynamics, the dynamics, the dynamics
There’s so much to talk about here. The exploration of something as commonplace – but nevertheless terrifying – as voluntary but radical life changes, and our reactions to it, is top-notch. Fitz and Juniper are foils but not, similar but not, messy and charming and vulnerable and so very real.
And it doesn’t stop with our leading duo. The writing knows exactly when and which threads of the intricate family relationships web to pull, too, whether it be the macro family unit or the more microscopic sibling/sibling relationships. It’s all there, and it’s all real.
3. Acknowledgement of the weight the subject matter carries
Fitz’s mom has early-onset Alzheimer’s, and much of his decision-making revolves around what’s best for her. With this initial setup, I was curious how this would factor into the overall tone of the book – compared to its two fun rom-com-y older sisters, TIME OF OUR LIVES has an in-your-face, harsher, darker tinge, rom- with less -com, and less -com and much more -CRY because heads up: this will very much make you cry. But it has to. This is the necessarily-harsh realness of it all, and the authors don’t shy away from it. This is a book that knows exactly what it’s talking about, and I like it, nay, I adore it, for not taking the easy way out and sugarcoating.
4. The writing
We’ve got that signature trademark Wibbroka Witty Dialog (no one writes dialog like they do, you guys) in addition to, I think, the writing’s greatest asset: its attention to detail. Whether its physical detail, geographical detail, emotional detail, all of it. Think: The Raven Boys-era Maggie Stiefvater’s charmingly detailed writing – but with humor that’s actually funny (sorry, Stiefvater). There’s attention given to the details that matter. It’s why it was so hard to stop reading and I ended up finishing TIME OF OUR LIVES in one sitting: it’s deeply, addictively immersive.
Notable mention also goes out to the way TIME OF OUR LIVES seamlessly integrates elements of THE GREAT GATSBY (a book I slowly grew to love and love intensely after initial hatred; everyone please take a moment to applaud my character development). I love when a book can make me see a classic in a new light without obviously setting out to do so. When done right, as is the case here, the fusion of classic and contemporary is as subtle yet impactful as a final flourish of a brush on a masterpiece.
And all that aside, it's the Roaring Twenties again, you guys, and look at these 2 books' release dates. Coincidence? I think NOT.
If you haven’t read this yet, I envy the fact that you still get to experience this book for the first time almost as much as you should envy me for actually getting to read it this early. It’s a vicious envy-cycle, my friends.
Ak hľadáte jedno z tohoto, mali by ste siahnuť po tejto knihe: - zimné cute čítanie - niečo iné ako typické romantické tuctové príbehy, ale stále romantiku - dobrú spoločnosť na dlhé večery
Hlavná vec, ktorá sa mi na tomto príbehu páčila bolo to aké to je komplexné. Nebolo to len o tom napätí medzi nimi, ako chcú byť spolu atď atď, ale skôr že tam boli zahrnuté ich rodiny, kamaráti, pohnútky... Prosto, nebol to príbeh na jedno kopyto.
Myslím, že toto bola jedna z mála knižiek s touto tématikou, kde sa výber výšky pekne rozvinul oboma smermi - prečo ísť preč od rodiny, ale zároveň mať ich nablízku. Plus milujem roadtripy a toto bola taká jazda, že už len pre to by som povedala tejto knihe áno.
Aj romantická linka tu bola taká magická. Bolo to ako snežná guľa, ktorá sa postupne nabaľuje. A koniec - na jednej strane som strašne s ním spokojná, pretože mám taký ten pocit istoty. Na druhej som, že nieeeeeee, prečooooo?
Jediná vec, ktorá mi je ľúto je fakt, že túto knihu som čítala v lete. Takže v decemri si rozhodne musím dať repete!
This book was cute. I liked the college exploration and the complicated family relationships, and the characters were nice. But...I just didn't really feel any chemistry between Fitz and Juniper. I think they would have been great friends, but not boyfriend and girlfriend. They both had to act out of character when they interacted--their personalities conflicted a lot. I skimmed the last 100 pages, because once they were together it became plain boring. Also--you don't fall in love with someone in a week! I can never get over the ridiculous timelines in books. Sigh.
So, I didn't like the romance, which is too bad because this book is a rom com. But I liked the discussions about family responsibility and balancing family with time for yourself. Overall, I'm glad I read it, even though the romance didn't impress me.
I received an ARC from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.
After reading Emily and Austin's first book, Always Never Yours, I was enchanted by their writing and storytelling. I'm not sure if Time of Our Lives is based on another Shakespeare play like their first two books but I still enjoyed this one for what it represented.
Once again, I find myself reading a book targeted to a very specific group of readers in an age group. This book will definitely resonate with you if you're in the awkward window where you're planning to go to University/college and whether or not you want to branch out, move to another state, or stay close to home. In Time of Our Lives, we meet two highschool seniors from different cities and backgrounds. Our heroine cannot wait to branch out, leave her cramped house, and go to a university far, far, far away from her loud and obnoxious family. Our hero wants to stay close because his mom has early onset dementia and he's afraid of her losing everything and him losing everything that was normal. They both have very complicated problems involving family. Do they need to breakaway to find themselves or can they stay in their bubble and still do all the same?
This book is just heavily focused on university and self-discovery. Unfortunately, I found myself dragging my feet to pick up this book because I could not relate! I'm done university for three years now. I never had these issues regarding leaving my city or staying. I knew if i picked a major, I would stick with it. While I appreciated how relatable it would be to future readers, I just didn't enjoy this one as much. I also thought the story dragged a lot which resulted in a lower rating. This book really didn't need to be over 300 pages.
This was fine, I guess. I liked exploring how family responsibility can influence your identity and the paths you choose (or think you're able to choose), but I really didn't like Juniper's family. I liked Fitz and Lewis getting closer, but it wasn't a bit part of the story. The romance was again, fine, but I wish Juniper didn't start the story with a boyfriend. It would have made the flirting and grey emotional cheating stuff not an issue, and Mat tdidn't really need to be in the story because he didn't do anything. The story was mostly forgettable, but a quick read. I liked the idea more than the execution.
This was a pretty average read for me. I really enjoyed some aspects and others just fell really flat for me. This story follows Juniper and Fitz, two high school seniors with very different hopes for their futures, as their east coast college tour road trips overlap. Fitz is determined to stay close to home to help his mom while Juniper wants nothing more than to find her new self and get away from her large family. I’ve lived in New England my whole life so a lot of the references hit close to home for me. I toured a lot of the campuses mentioned myself when I was applying to college so I really liked that I could make that connection to the setting. In the beginning, this connection was one of the only things that was intriguing me to keep reading as the first 150 pages or so we’re pretty slow. The main focuses of this book were both familial and romantic relationships. While I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of Juniper’s role in her family as the responsible oldest sibling and Fitz’s difficulty connecting to his older brother, Lewis, I didn’t buy into the romance at all. I felt no romantic chemistry between Juniper and Fitz and I wish they had just remained friends. I was more invested in Lewis’ relationship with his girlfriend, Prisha, than Juniper and Fitz. The forced romance took away from all of the lessons they were able to learn from each other in such a short amount of time, which I felt had way more value. I liked that Fitz and Juniper helped each other discover things about themselves as well as help one another learn about their relationships with their family. They helped each other grow individually while also teaching each other that’s it’s okay to need your family’s support and love along the way. There were some really interesting conversations about memory, identity and family that were definitely redeeming to the story. I just wish the romance storyline was scrapped all together.
Time of Our Lives is a dual narrative story following Fitz Holton whose mother has an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and Juniper Ramirez who feels suffocated by her many siblings and family members. The two are both going on a college tour, Fitz with his brother and Juniper with her boyfriend. Fitz wants to go to a college in their hometown to stay close to his mother so he can care for her, whereas Juniper wants to study in another city and get some distance from her family. When the two meet they have an instant attraction, different views on college aside.
Because this is a novel that does not have a strong plot, it relies heavily on writing, characterization, and romance to keep readers engaged, three things that missed the mark for me. I was really surprised when I wasn’t enjoying the author-duo’s writing style.. I just found the descriptions in Juniper's parts overly stylized, and not quite matching with the rest of her perspective, and as for Fitz’s part, I thought all the uncommon words and their definitions were an absolute chore to get through. At some point I honestly stopped bothering to pronounce the words or reading their definitions because I felt they did not add to the story in anyway.
As for the characters, let’s start with Fitz. I knew I was going to have a hard time getting along with Fitz because I tend not to like characters who are rigid and strongly opposed to change I blame Pat of Silver Bush for scarring me forever, but I thought if anyone could make this type of character work for me it would be this author duo. Obviously I was wrong, and I had a hard time sympathizing with him. I know I should feel sympathetic towards his situation but he was so bull-headed, judgemental, and unwilling to understand the situations and motivations of others that it made it hard to like him. Throw in the fact that Fitz is obsessed with words and is constantly using uncommon words in conversation, only to have to define them for the people he is talking to because they’re unfamiliar with the word, it just makes for a really unlikeable character.
Juniper was more relatable, but still not a character I liked. She also has a “quirk” in that she has an amazing memory and is often reminding people of something they’ve said ages ago in whatever argument she’s having, then also proceeds to be annoyed at people for not remembering. You'd think at some point she'd realize that there’s no point in arguing over something someone’s said ages ago because people and their opinions can change. Also, the way in which Juniper is able to get over things at the speed of light doesn't make me quick to root for her. It made her character come off as disingenuous and unrealistic. So, all in all I found both characters extremely annoying and snobbish and they made it that much more difficult for me to enjoy the story.
As for the romance, I was not expecting Juniper to have a boyfriend when we start off the novel. Knowing that beforehand might have actually deterred me from picking this one up, because that's not a scenario I enjoy reading from. I’m not saying it’s impossible to have a platonic relationship with someone you’re attracted to, I’m saying its a problem when you know the other person is romantically interested in you and you spare your partner of this detail. The most "meaningful" interaction between Fitz and Juniper takes place while Juniper is still with her boyfriend and it gave me feelings in my tummy, not of butterflies, but of discomfort. I also did not buy into their “instant connection” and thought the two had zero chemistry together, making the romance a fail for me.
This was actually a 3-star read for me until the plot got extremely predictable and unrealistic, and during what I didn’t realise were the last few chapters (I was reading an e-book) I wondered how things were going to wrap up with such few pages left. Turns out the answer is not well, the ending is extremely abrupt and unsatisfying. On the plus side, I was rewarded for my reading efforts by getting to watch Fitz get a much deserved telling-off and through an extremely awkwardly placed cameo from characters of If I'm Being Honest (my favourite novel by the duo). I was really happy to see said main characters but also felt that scene was very random and did not need to be there. I really appreciate that the authors had sensitivity readers and talked to people who were in similar situations given they were writing about experiences different than their own experiences, and really the next book they put out can only be better than this one, right?
I should have known! The back copy didn’t speak to me but I was like “you loved the first two books, what can go wrong!” Well, Hannah of the past, you done played yourself.
I just never quite felt the chemistry between the two of them. It all just moved very fast and it all felt a bit contrived, kind of like their names Fitz and Juniper. I liked Matt and was sad to see him take the arc we all knew he would. On his note, I didn’t buy that that conversation hadn’t come up earlier because it sure broke them up fast. Some parts just didn’t add up and it’s hard to describe.
I appreciated Fitz’s relationship with his brother, but again it just ended so abruptly. Does Lewis end up with Prisha? Do we literally get two unhappy endings for the price of one? I need answers but also if they’re going to piss me off then maybe not. This book tugged at the heartstrings and made me get misty at times, but it never pushed me over the edge. I couldn’t invest 100% of myself into it and it has to do half with the plot and half with the characters.
As soon as Gatsby was mentioned, I was like . . . is this somewhat of an unlabeled Gatsby retelling (Gatsby entered the public domain Jan 2021, after this book was pubbed)? Because I then thought, “hmm, if this is sort of a Gatsby situation, the ending will not please you.” Lo and behold, my pesky intuition hit the nail squarely on the head—which is impressive because I have terrible hand-eye coordination. It definitely wasn’t as gloomy as Gatsby, but it was not (NOT!) the ending of a romance novel. It felt more like the ending of an ~edgy~ indie film that’s supposed to make you ~feel~ things. Things that apparently aren't happy, content, or satiated.
It’s coming-of-age and finding yourself, but not (NOT!) a romance. There’s a love story yes, but that’s not enough. Come to think of it, there’s literally no conclusion at all. An epilogue showing the two meeting again in a bagel shop four years later would have done WORLDS of work for the ending of this book. I’m sorry, I’m not quirky or whimsical enough to imagine their storybook ending for myself. I want it in black and white, printed in the damn book. (This is also why I’m so unhappy with the treatment of Cameron and Brendan.)
Please for the love of sweet baby Jesus and Willy S., if you have read this tell me that you believe Cameron and Brendan definitely got back together for good. The thought of them being broken up GUTS me and I didn’t enjoy this book enough to ALSO have it rip those two up. At this point, I just want another book about them because if the authors have already gone and broken them up, then there’s enough material for a book two. Plus, since they didn’t even make this a Shakespeare retelling, why couldn’t this book have been a standalone and not have referenced them? LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE!
*update from future Hannah: a bitch is rounding down bc I’m still pissed and I was so innocent back then.
This was a lowwww three. I didn’t round down because I did enjoy it well enough before I knew how it ended. This was a great example of not really wanting to read more, but also needing more pages to feel good about where it ended. Overall, this one was missing the spark that the first two had. There wasn’t enough wit and sizzle, nor was there any Shakespeare. And for spurning the Bard, I bid thee adieu with a lovely Shakespearean insult:
“I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can, you are not for all markets.”
I’ve been gorging on YA contemporary romance over the last two years. Like, oh-my-god-McDonald’s-fries-are-best-fries gorging. So when I read IF I’M BEING HONEST—my first taste of Wibbroka—earlier this year, it had a lot of competition. Yet, it easily became my top favorite.
Now? NOW?? Pretty sure Austin and Emily had a Hulk glow-up just so they could grab my arms and rip me in half. I’m THAT TORN. WHICH BOOK IS SUPPOSED TO BE MY FAVORITE NOW???
To preface this review: I’ve now read all three Wibbroka books. After IIBH I had to pick up ALWAYS NEVER YOURS (FYI, if you haven’t yet you’re a criminal). Is it equally as brilliant as IIBH? Yes. Scratch that—OBVIOUSLY. Both books set my expectations high for TIME OF OUR LIVES, to the point where I was worried. How could these co-authors top such complex characters, deep relationships, squee-worthy romance, and—especially—perfect pacing? Not to mention I’m a sucker for unapologetic girls who grow and change for no one but themselves. How would Wibbroka smack me into fangirl mode again? Surely there’s a limit to so much talent.
Yeah, no. TIME OF OUR LIVES proves that WIBBROKA HAVE NO LIMITS OKAY I AM AT PEAK ENTHUSIASM GFWUGFOWHFOIWH
Tonally, TIME OF OUR LIVES is different from their first two books. It is serious and fearless in its approach to a teen’s transition into college. As a college grad, I can say that TOOL fully captures the very real emotions—the ones I personally did and didn’t anticipate—surrounding separating from family, and how growing up can feel like both a blessing and a curse.
Fitz and Juniper represent two extremes: fear of change and desperation for independence. The way they teach each other the merits of the very future they fear is, oddly, heartbreakingly comforting. The book prioritizes acceptance of change over romance, though the characters don’t deprive themselves of love. They simply recognize the need to make choices about their own lives that they won’t regret. They relinquish the rest to fate. Serendipity. And they have good luck with that. ;)
Naturally, Wibbroka’s signature humor and chemistry between the main characters is present. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself rooting for the familial relationships as much as I did the romance. Romance and family are treated with the same weight. It takes a talented writer to pull that off, especially in a contemporary romance. These two are a masterclass in characterizing secondary characters (Writers, do you feel that Pillsbury poke? That's me telling you to READ THIS BOOK).
Oh, did I mention the ending was perfect? Because it was.
I guess my point is that Wibbroka are the most reliable authors I’ve ever read. Every book is consistently page-flippy and guaranteed to make whatever book you read next pale in comparison. For me, they’re now brand-name authors. I don’t need to read the premise of whatever they write next. They’ve proven their worth three times over. My money is as good as theirs.
It felt like the authors tried too hard with Juniper's family. By trying to intoduce some diverse rep into the story, they managed to do more harm that good. Juniper's family was cringeworthy stereotype Mexican American. Everything about them is awkward or infuriating.
Not to mention... THE WORD TAMALE DOES NOT FUCKING EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
IT IS EITHER SINGULAR TAMAL.
OR PLURAL TAMALES
If that didn't clue you in into how much of a pet peeve to me that is, then you won't understand why that kind of ruined my experience with this book xD
But, being serious I feel like the book really doesn't have a plot. It isn't a romance by any means of the imagination. It also wasn't a coming of age book. And nothing gets resolved in the end. A conversation between Fitz and his family never happens. Neither does a conversation between Juniper and hers.
Fitz's older brother (whose name I cannot for the life of me remember) never gets to an agreement with his girlfriend Prisha.
Juniper's boyfriend (whose name I totally forgot too) gets dropped like a dirty sock after he had been a somewhat nice addition to the book but ultimately only serves to be Juniper's tragic story.
Fitz and Juniper never even talk about a future friendship.
I... am so underwhelmed by this book that I can't think of a single good thing to say about it. I didn't hate it. But it was unbearably dull.
This book was wonderfully written and is up there with my favorite contemporary novels of all time (which also includes the Hating Game and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy). I absolutely devoured this book within a day, and I’m glad for it. Initially, a couple months ago, it was released and it was an anticipated YA contemporary novel of 2020, but its summary sounded boring. A road trip plot line? Sounds cliche. Fast forward to yesterday. A friend of mine on Goodreads marked it as a DNF and for once, I recognized the book they were reading. I decided to just read the little preview Goodreads has, and I fell in love within the first 20 pages it showed us. Immediately I found the ebook and started reading, and here I am today, loving this book with all my heart. It was wonderfully written (I know I said that twice but I mean it), the writing being so beautiful and detailed. Just reading about the places gave me serious wanderlust for the East Coast. Now for the characters. I loved Juniper. She was smart, efficient, and lovely to read about and connect with. Sometimes your main character could be a bit dumb and whose world revolves around their problems, but Juniper was the opposite. Her story revolves around her family, which I really liked and do like in contemporaries. Next, we have Fitz. I think I fell in love with him after reading the first page of his POV. Such a cute boy AND A BOOKWORM????!!!!! His story was so deep and realistic, too. Count me in. He and Juniper were so sweet together and I can’t remember the last time I had such strong feelings about a contemporary relationship. I will go down with this ship. Shoutout to Lewis and Prisha because woooh! Representation is strong in this book and I’m here for it. I loved this book with all my heart and btw, that ending???!!!! The author didn’t explicitly say if they would stay together or leave after the week, but in my world, they are together, happy, Fitz’s mom is going to be okay, and they go to a nice college together. Such a deep and thoughtful book, seriously. This is probably the biggest surprise of the year so far for me indefinitely.
Can I give this book 10000 stars? Because I want to.
Also, I don’t know if many people do this, but sometimes I listen to music while reading, and if I hear a song while reading an impactful and standout book like Time of Our Lives. I was listening to Let Me Move You by Sabrina Carpenter and Locked out of Heaven by Bruno Mars while reading this book, and this worked perfectly, in my opinion. Listen to these songs while reading Time of Our Lives, and see if you agree with me.
The premise of this sounded really interesting, so I was glad when a copy showed up at my library. I was getting into it, especially Fitz’s situation with his sick mom. By pg. 51 I was ready to move on to another book, however. When a young adult novel has scenes of teenagers having casual and consensual sex, in a motel setting with no chaperones anywhere, that is a big turn-off to me. I know teens do this; I live in the real world. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy reading about it, and I think it sets a bad example for young people.
Bloody hell. I was planning to give this a 3 star rating but I actually really liked the ending and the quotes and I think there were some great things that came out of this story. I’ll definitely have to come back to this one and review it properly but if your looking for a light quick contemporary this is it.