From Christina June, author of It Started with Goodbye and Everywhere You Want to Be, comes No Place Like Here, a modern twist on Hansel and Gretel.
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She's just spent a year at boarding school and can't wait to get home. But when Ashlyn's father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for "exhaustion," a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn's father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn't even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed "indoor girl," not even Ash's habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes--inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere--can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad's marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
Fans looking for stories with elements of drama, romance, friendship, and an unflinching look into navigating and improving even the most difficult parent-teen relationships need look no further.
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.
She is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and NO PLACE LIKE HERE.
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I freaking loved it!!! It’s so freaking fluffy!!! It’s on my favorites list and I’m gonna buy it!!
Oh, this is the book I never knew I needed! I have missed reading a good fluffy book from time to time!
When I read that this book was basically about a girl that was being sent away to a camp I was hooked, but I’m jumping ahead! Backtrack....
Ashlyn is in boarding school for some things she did in her past. She’s hoping to come home to spend her senior year at her old school and be with her best friend. Welllll.. that didn’t go as planned. Suddenly her father is going to jail for things and her mom is going into rehab for depression. Ash is being sent to relatives she hasn’t seen since she was a tot and she’s working at the Sweetwater Overlook Retreat Center with her cousin, Hannah. I mean you can imagine how Ash is feeling with her world being pulled out from under her.
BUT, at the camp, Ash finds herself and realizes she is stronger than she thinks. Ash finds a bond with her cousin and with Baxter. I love Baxter! Dear God, I hope the author writes more about him and things.
Anyhoo, there are a lot of things that go wrong at the camp with a supposed person in charge, but Ash and Hannah take it upon themselves to get it sorted. It was awesome!
There were other issues Ash had to sort out but it all worked out.
There was a thing they did at camp that involved writing things on a piece of paper and putting it in the bonfire! This reminded me of a similar thing one of my oncology nurses told me to do. Welp, I’m making my lists and going to throw it into the fire on me and dads upcoming bonfire. I totally forgot and we have had a few fires the past few months. But I digress!!
The story is also about family coming back together when it seems all is lost!! FLUFFY!!!
I’m so glad I read it! I’m excited to buy it and read it again! I’m glad I found a happy place in this book!!
I hope others like it but if you don’t, that’s okay? BE YOU!!
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a digital copy of this book or I would have missed it!!*
After really enjoying Everywhere You Want to Be in April 2018, this was an insta-click for me. Teenage Ashlyn has a father in prison for tax troubles and a mother being treated for depression. So she is sent to her uncle and aunt's who in turn have arranged for Ashlynn to join her cousin as employees at a outdoor wellness center in Pennsylvania . This is not the summer she imagined, but it is a summer that Ashlynn won't soon forget.
Christina June writes strong female protagonists that this adult reader loves to cheer for in books. I meet great young women in the classroom and I feel that June writes teenage girls without falling into the tired cliches. Also thankfully we are not sidelined by a teen romance.
If you're looking for a book to buy your teenage daughter or yourself, I highly recommend that is a great vacation read.
Publication Date 21/05/19 Goodreada Review published 16/05/19
Thanks to Netgalley and Blink for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
No Place Like Here became an instant favorite of mine! If you're looking for this year's YA summer reading, look no further! What a riveting and compelling story!!
When Ashlyn's parents have to go away, - her father going to prison and her mother in rehab - Ashlyn were sent to her father's relatives in Pennsylvania and for her to work in Sweetwater Overlook Retreat Center along with her cousin.
"Maybe absence does the heart grow fonder"
At first, Ashlyn resented this as she thought it would ruin her perfect summer but she found out along the way that working at the camp was exactly what she needed. She get to experienced a real life camping is.
She get to know and bond with her cousin, Hannah and befriended Baxter. And then she soon realized that family is everything.
This is such an amazing and heartwarming story and I am so glad that I get to read this! I will be preordering this book for sure and will read it again in the future.
**Thank you NetGalley and Blink publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.**
- inspired by Hansel & Gretl - set at a wilderness retreat center - a cousin story - complicated family dynamics - second chances - finding your voice - quotes - kissing - a zipline scene that actually happened to me
This book is dedicated to "the quiet girls" and came out of my experiences helping kids in my day job find their voices. <3
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book after reading on a different review that there's not a big focus on romance. The author dealt so well with the themes and I was captivated as I read about Ashlyn's journey that was at times difficult, uncomfortable, healing, and empowering. I appreciated being able to see the family dynamics that brought Ashlyn to the point she is at mentally at the beginning of the book, flaws and all. Family secrets are revealed and she is instantly and unwillingly thrust onto a path of discovery- more about her parents, extended family, and also about herself. The cast of characters that support her and those that she interacts with in a more negative way were brought to life and rounded out the story well. I especially liked seeing her relationship develop with her cousin and the quiet zipline instructor who makes a wonderful friend. A lovely story of becoming self-aware and choosing to be strong in the circumstances we are given.
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)
No Place Like Here is several times better than the first book I read by the author. There's deeper character development and a more complex plot, a complicated story of a family whose members don't really speak up even when they're deeply emotional, it had to take their family to fall apart for them to finally voice out their concerns.
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the themes and topics discussed by this little book and even more grateful because of the natural dialogue and engaging narration in the main character's perspective. I loved that Ashlyn's time working at the retreat camp with her cousin Hannah gave her the confidence she needed, something that her dad took away from her with his unrealistic expectations of perfection.
This is one summery but meaningful story of friendship, finding one's strength, and redefining family dynamics to save the family. It's a little gem of a book that managed to make me laugh, smile, and tear up a little.
Thank you NetGalley and Blink publishing for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
So I went into this book thinking that it was a modern Hansel and Gretel retelling. And I guess it is as long as your definition of retellings is incredibly loose. I guess I was expecting some sort of magic, which is definitely NOT what this story is about.
I would classify this as a YA contemporary that focuses on coming of age. Ashlyn just found out that her father must do prison time because of tax evasion. To say that her father is overbearing would be polite. The guy is an outright tyrant. Her mother is suffering from severe depression, which her father labels as "exhaustion". Ashlyn is shipped off to become a counselor at a team building camp for adults in the corporate world.
I liked the experiences that Ashlyn had at the wilderness camp. I think that she's still incredibly naive when it comes to those of the opposite sex, which is evident from her previous mistakes. However, the story is more focused on building a relationship with her cousin Hannah versus romantic ties.
Overall, I think the story is alright, but it wasn't really for me. I didn't really feel a connection with Ashlyn. And while I admire that the plot focuses on rebuilding family ties, it's not what I was hoping for from this story.
Three Things I Love About NO PLACE LIKE HERE 1. Steep character arc. In the opening of this novel, MC Ashlyn reminded me of myself as a teenager: quiet, resigned, and stuck in my head. As the story progresses, though, she becomes a strong, take-charge girl who makes big decisions and takes risks. Teen readers will be able to relate to her, and I think they'll love cheering her on. 2. Unique setting. Ashlyn's summer job at a retreat center is really cool -- it's like camp, but for adults. There's swimming and a dining hall and a ropes course, which leads to the cutest, most awkward zip-line rescue you ever did read. 3. Friendship focused. I generally like my YA romance centered, but I found No Place Like Here refreshing in its emphasis on friendship. I loved watching Ash's relationship with her cousin, Hannah, blossom, and it was fun to see her get to know Baxter, master of the ropes course, in a deep but platonic way. My almost-eleven-year-old is a Christina June fan, too, and she's already asking for this book.
No Place Like Here was different than I expected. I don't know if it was because of my reading mood or what, but I found myself easily bored with the story. I didn't connect with the characters and couldn't even tell it was a retelling. The story was written well, it was just that I personally didn't connect with the story.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
This was a great YA summer camp story from the perspective of a wealthy teenager forced to take a summer job at camp. Ashlyn is juggling a lot while going straight from boarding school to a summer job she didn't ask for. She struggles with speaking up to her parents about how she feels, coming to terms with her parents' own shortcomings and fighting off the boys at camp. This is a quick and fun camp story dealing with family issues such as depression and incarceration. Thank you to NetGalley and Blink for this ARC, my opinions are my own.
Ashlyn thought she had served her time, and would be able to return home after spending a year away at boarding school. But, then she learned of her father's arrest online, and in the blink of an eye, all her summer plans, and maybe her future plans, were altered. She was quickly whisked away to the woods of Pennsylvania to work at a wilderness retreat with her cousin, Hannah. This indoor girl was dreading her new outdoor job, but it would prove to be her summer of self-realization and change.
I had "met" Ashlyn in June's first book, It Started with Goodbye, and was excited to get to know her better. My heart went out to her, when she found out that her family was going in three different directions that summer. Her feelings of abandonment were strong, as well they should be, but I was grateful that she was able to find some comfort in her aunt, uncle, cousin, and some of the retreat staff. Her cousin, Hannah, and Baxter were two standout characters. They were very supportive, but didn't push Ashlyn too hard, and that was exactly what she needed to help her work through her family issues.
Ashlyn's family was in trouble. Her mother was seeking treatment for her depression, and her father was to begin serving his sentence in prison. Either one of these would be a stressful situation, and Ashlyn had to bear the weight of both. But, you know what? She used the time and space at camp to reflect on her relationship with her family. She realistically struggled with her feelings for her father. She loved him, but was also frustrated with him for the demands he constantly made of her. Through her separation and a lot of refection, she came to terms with her issues regarding her father, and resolved to try and fix things with her family, because in the end, she loved them. I also liked that Ashlyn was building a bridge back to her aunt, uncle, and cousin. They were such a big part of her growth and healing, and I was glad she was keeping them in her life.
Lots of Fun Stuff
I was all over this setting. The wilderness retreat was such a fun and unique place to spend the summer. There were bon fires and bike rides, swimming and scavenger hunts, sunrise hikes and zip lining. It just posed a wealth of possibilities and I had a great time being there with Ashlyn.
There was also hints of an adorable romance in this story. It was not a full-on romance, and the character justified her stand on why it wasn't, but I so, so wanted it to be. In fact, I was hoping there was an epilogue waiting for me, so I could see how Ashlyn's family made out AND see if my ship happened. Alas, there was none, but I am holding out hope, that June writes another book set in this world. Maybe Hannah could get her own book. It could happen, right?
A fabulous, low-drama coming of age story. It was a heartwarming tale of family and finding your voice, and I was happy to accompany Ashlyn on her journey.
No Place Like Here was so much more than I expected! I went into it thinking I was getting a somewhat fluffy summer camp novel (at only 272 pages I finished it in half a shift at work – yes, my job is that slow). While there were fluffy aspects, it was so much deeper and touched my heart in ways I was completely surprised by.
Ashlyn’s entire world has been turned upside down. All her plans for the summer have gone out the window. Her parents BOTH seem to have abandoned her. She’s been shipped off to stay with relatives she hasn’t seen for nearly a decade. She plans to just keep her head down and her mouth shut, just like she has for the entire life she’s spent with her overbearing, self-centered father. But then she realizes that she does still have a family that cares about her, and she starts to grow into herself. She grows SO MUCH in this short book, it was really amazing and yet still very believable.
I loved that she didn’t just grow up and shut her parents out. She grew up and at least tried to start the healing process with them. Her mom’s struggle with depression felt realistically portrayed, and I really appreciated the positive mental health rep in the book! Getting help is NOT a weakness, or a waste of time. YES!
Also, a HUGE thank you to Christina June for not making this a “romance is the answer” story. There is a little flirtation, a little kissing, a lot of attraction – but no real romance. So many stories portray romantic relationships as the cure-all for what ails us and it’s just so not true!
Now I need to go back and read the books that came before this one. Apparently some of the same characters show up, so I’m personally hoping that after No Place Like Here we get to hear more of Baxter’s story…
5/5 stars. I loved this book! I’ll be waiting for anything else Christina June puts out.
I’ll be totally honest about this one — I picked it up only because of the cover. I’m a sucker for how cover art makes me feel. I don’t think I knew anything about this story before I began reading it, so it was all a surprise. Ashlyn Zanotti is in between a rock and a hard place. Her father is going to prison for tax evasion and her mother is going to rehab for severe depression. So Ashlyn is sent off to stay with her cousin for the summer, working at a retreat center with no access to her cell phone. She’s without her best friend and is REALLY hoping she doesn’t have to return to her boarding school in the fall.
While this book had many of the typical coming-of-age experiences, including a little romance, what I really liked was the fact that it dealt with child/parent relationships, including miscommunication, and the fact that our internal voice inevitably comes directly from the adults who speak to us (and about us) the most. Unfortunately, one of the voices Ashlyn constantly hears is pretty critical of all her choices and judgmental of others she encounters. Will she be able to overcome the humiliation of her father’s actions and her mother’s rehab? More importantly, will she find the courage to speak up for herself and the things that she wants in life?
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Me the past few minutes trying to decide if I was going to rate this book one star or two stars.
I just never really connected with the book. The protagonist, Ashlyn, never felt real to me. Sent to boarding school after unknowingly helping her then-boyfriend shoplift, Ashlyn's father sends her off to boarding school. A year later, her father is arrested for tax evasion, her mother is sent to rehab, and Ashlyn finds herself working at a camp retreat in Pennsylvania.
The book wanted me to believe that Ashlyn found herself and changed after her time at the camp retreat, but I wasn't able to believe it. Ashlyn's previous behavior before this is barely explained, such as her ex-boyfriend shoplifting. I don't remember the text ever explaining what he stole, but it must've been something significant if he needed Ashlyn to be the getaway driver and landed them both in jail. I wanted more context for her strained relationship with her father. She talks about a time when their family was close; when and how did everything change? It's hard for me to see her transformation when I don't have the context of her past.
I wasn't the biggest fan of the book. But if you give it a try, I can tell you that there are at least a couple of characters that will make the story a little bit easier to read.
This is a perfect story the tween/teen in your life! The author wrote a very relatable and realistic story of teens struggle to find her voice in very difficult times. Ashlyn whole life was falling apart and she is on the edge of self-destruction. She is forced to spend the summer with a cousin she doesn't know at a camp she doesn't want to be.
The summer proves to a journey of self-discovery for Ashlyn as she is forced to think through her life and to find out who she really is and what she wants out of her life and the kind of relationship she wants with her parents. This journey is played out perfectly and the Ashlyn has the perfect teen voice. Her actions and thoughts are what you would expect of a teen and her actions are one discovery life and herself.
I also loved how the author dealt with a very flawed family. Ashlyn learned to set boundaries with her family and I love how she was able to communicate her wants and needs, where in the past she would act out or bury her true feelings.
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. I also like how it wasn’t a typical girl meets boy and they end having a whirlwind romance. The book focuses more on finding yourself and not needing others to validate your feelings. It was refreshing.
NO PLACE LIKE HERE is about a girl trying to find herself after her life implodes when her dad goes to prison for tax evasion. It's a coming-of-age story full of interesting characters and a plot of self-discovery. Themes of family, friendship, self-worth, depression, and emotional abuse woven through the story make for a read with depth and plenty of heart.
It took me a little bit to love Ashlyn, but she eventually grew on me. I think some of that was because she's so different from me and she had a fairly cushy life in so many ways, but is so devastated by what happened while also being completely submissive. However, as the story moved on and more comes out about her family, I could see why she was like she was. Thank goodness she wasn't stuck-up, rude or bratty. She was used to being rich, but it didn't really go to her head. She also had this openness and vulnerability to her that I think fit this age and the circumstances really well. I liked seeing her open up to her cousin and some new friends at the retreat, which helped her to start to figure out what she wanted. I thought the author did really well with Ashlyn's voice as well as with her dreams and worries - perfect for the age and for what she was going through. The camp was a fun setting and added some nice twists to the story. I also liked that there was romance, but it wasn't the focal point of the story. The budding romance at the end felt genuine because the author didn't try to tie up everything all perfectly, which I appreciated. Having said that, the ending was really sweet and perfect for this story.
In the end, was it what I wished for? I really enjoyed reading this! It was interesting seeing how the classic Hansel and Gretel fairy tale was twisted into this contemporary story. The author made it her own and created a story easy to relate to, handling some difficult subjects, and creating a likable protagonist and some fun side characters. Recommended to contemporaneity YA fans, especially those who like their stories light on the romance.
Content: Clean Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Prism Book Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect my review in any way.
"I'd spent so much time saying things in my head, never letting those thoughts come off my lips. I'd used the words of others to express myself, protecting myself. I wrapped myself in an armor of silence and written words of other people. But now? I could draw strength from those words in a different way."
The main character collected quotes, using them to give her strength. As a bookworm, this is something I've been doing since I could read, and I was glad to be able to connect to the main character in some small way. Ashlyn was also from Arlington, VA (a DC suburb, and my home), even though the book took place in Pennsylvania. I don't know if it is my lack of extensive searching, but I haven't read any other books where the main character is from the DC area.
The plot was very slow, and the conflict was mainly internal. The events that happened outside of Ashlyn really didn't matter, and dragged in some places. The side characters were underdeveloped, with a few personality traits at the most. If I hadn't connected with the main character, I doubt I would remember this book a week from now. No Place Like Here was a fun read, but nothing extraordinary.
A story about the longing for home even when it’s not perfect or you don’t feel worthy of it, No Place Like Here is a poignant and moving story.
Ashlyn Zanotti’s summer plans (and her unforeseeable future) go up in smoke when her father lands in prison, her mother checks herself into rehab for exhaustion, and she’s sentenced to working at a summer retreat camp. Over the course of her time there, Ashlyn discovers support in unexpected places and the courage to speak up for herself, even with her father’s disapproving voice acting as her conscience.
Using touches from Hansel and Gretel, Christina June gives readers another engaging book with a young heroine whose journey to obtain her deepest with, to go home again, finds her strength and individualism. Young readers will enjoy this summer read with a memorable setting, plenty of conflict, and an ending that offers the promise of wishes realized.
Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
I'm so glad I checked this out! I read it for a challenge and it's a fun, yet sort of deep book. It has a little bit of romance, but it really focuses on relationships with family and friends. There's also a big theme of standing up for yourself and being true to who you are.
Ashlyn is shocked when she learns her dad is going to prison, her mom is going to treatment, and she's being sent to work a summer retreat camp with her estranged cousin. I was so happy Ashlyn wasn't enemies with Hannah and that they bonded so much. Their friendship was great and they clicked well despite their differences. The romance is barely there and has a long way to go by the end of the book, but I was happy with it. Ashlyn saw the guy as a friend and started to build up from there, which is a great way to go.
The camp seemed fun and I would totally do a family retreat there. This has plenty of light-hearted moments to giggle at and was well paced. I definitely recommend checking it out!
Christina June is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors. Every book I read, I love even more than the last one. This time we follow Ashlyn who we see a big off in It Started with Goodbye. However in No Place Like Here its a modern Twist on Hansel and Gretel, I can see where that plays in. Ashlyn wasn't a character I liked much from her first book, so the lead character had to win me more. She did! She goes through a lot, well still being believable. There a little love triangle, there's not a whole lot of romance, some kisses here and there, but it was mostly about family. I LOVE that. I like how Ashlyn learns that family isn't just your parents, as here's is going through a lot! Ashlyn is tossed into this camp life, and I liked seeing her learning and struggling to get to her feet, once she does she strong, & goes for what she wants. I did enjoy her cousin, Hannah because she's so different then Ashlyn, getting to see that relationship change, was one of my favorite parts of this book. Also loved the zip-line, bike and whenever Ashlyn takes with her mom in enjoyable. No Place Like Here is a perfect summer read, with light romance and strong family dynamic; while learning to stand on your own two feet!
I was given an ARC of this book, however, this is 100% my honest thoughts.
I loved the first two books in this modern fairy tale series by Christina June and was excited to read No Place Like Here. As soon as I finished, I reached out to Christina to ask her for a fourth book (perhaps about Ashlyn's cousin Hannah). I am NOT ready for this series to be done!
This is another wonderful story from Christina. I enjoyed getting to know Ashlyn better and learning about what her life is like. I liked the setting of Sweetwater and how it helped Ashlyn get to know herself better. The story flowed easily from start to finish and it was so difficult to put down. I liked the relationships Ashlyn had with all the different characters throughout, some being comforting and some being complex.
I don't think anyone is ever too old for a good young adult novel, and the ones by Christina June are all amazing. Pick up It Started with Goodbye and read them in order of publication dates. I highly recommend all three!
No Place Like Here was an absolutely amazing book from the very beginning. I wasn’t sure how fast I’d be able to get attached to the characters and the storyline. But, I was easily able to read the book and follow the storyline. The main character absolutely had my heart and then when we met the love interest who got the short end of the stick, I felt terrible for him until the last few chapters of the book. This book was beautifully written and I was ready to see what was going to happen with the end of each page. I definitely recommend for people to read this book no matter your age.
Well written book, if a little safe. There were a few moments in the narrative where it’s played more realistic than I’d anticipate, but it’s not a bad thing. Some characterization was flat, such as those opposing our main character, where the author just didn't bother going beyond the surface. This could contribute to the book's safety too. The “breadcrumb quotes” thing is a little put on, though, like a high schooler would have the perfect, sometimes obscure quote ready for writing down without checking a phone? Could not take that seriously.
This book was super cute and gave me all the best summer vibes, for dreaming of a time when we're finally let out of quarantine and maybe we'll see the sun again. The setting of the book is at a wilderness retreat, basically a summer camp type setting, including zip lining, going to the swimming pool, and bonfires. It was so fun to read about, especially seeing the teens who are working there for the summer interacting with each other in this great setting.
There were some really great family themes I loved. The premise of the book is that Ashlyn goes to work with her cousin, Hannah, who she doesn't know. Over the course of the book, I loved seeing them go from slightly hostile and judgy towards each other, to really bonding as cousins! They team up and work together well, and have fun together, and wow I wish I had a cousin like Hannah to work at a summer retreat with haha seems like the best summer ever.
I also loved seeing the relationship Ashlyn had with her aunt and uncle who she didn't really know before. And most important was the relationship Ashlyn had with her parents, which was definitely dysfunctional to say the least at the beginning, with her being afraid of her dad who was going to prison, and worried for her mom, who was going to rehab. Over the course of the book I loved seeing Ashlyn figure out her family, and the ending was so satisfying!
At first the relationships in this book had me wary... but I shouldn't have worried because they developed well and I was really satisfied by the end of the book! There are some super cute and swoon moments, but more importantly, Ashlyn learns what she wants in a relationship, that they're more important when they're deeper and more meaningful than just surface level attraction, and that she doesn't even need a relationship in order to be happy as herself!
Ashlyn really grows as a character too, just on her own. She learns to stand up to her family, her relationships, her friends, and the people she works with. She becomes so much braver over the course of the book and I was so proud of her at the end!
Apparently this book is based off Hansel and Gretel and I saw that on the synopsis so I wanted to read this book then not gonna lie, I totally forgot about that until a few minutes ago when I looked at the synopsis as I started writing this review. I was hopeful that it would be a retelling since I love retellings so much, but it really wasn't, and I didn't even realize it as I read the book. Looking back now, I can see a few nods to that story, but really this stands as its own wonderful story, not a retelling, with just a few Easter eggs. Not bad, just fyi.
Overall, this book was super fun and had some great messages too! It's not going on my all time favorites list, and didn't super move me, but it's a fun book to read in an afternoon!
Maybe this wasn't the summer she expected, but it was the summer she needed.
After a year stuck at boarding school, Ashlyn is more than ready to go home. She wants nothing more than to spend time with her best friend and finish out her high school career. But then her father gets thrown in jail, sending her mother's depression over the edge. Suddenly Ash is being sent to spend the summer with her aunt, uncle, and cousin, working at the Sweetwater Overlook Retreat Center. Will leaving home once more be the key to finding it?
A story of finding your true self in unexpected places. One girl finds her voice and so much more.
Trigger warnings for body shame, an incarcerated parent, a mentally ill parent, grief, depression, near-death experiences, and emotional abuse.
Quiet, thoughtful Ash was a bit stressed out as her summer plans took a drastic turn. As if her family imploding wasn't enough, she carried around so many years of emotional abuse that it was ingrated in her brain. But from helping keep Sweetwater Retreat afloat to the sympathy she showed others, Ash proved herself to be a strong young woman. Even though it was tough for Ash to break out of her shell, it was awe-inspiring to see her open up, to realize that emotional vulnerability is a strength.Ash became increasingly more nuanced as she found her voice. While I loved her character growth, seeing more of her past would have endeared her to me a bit more.
From an overly controlling father to an emotionally over taxed mother, Ash didn't have the best role models when it came to dealing with feelings. Thankfully Ash's kind, loving aunt and uncle gave her the support she needed to work things out. Fun, hectic activities with her cousin Hannah, Baxter, and the other teens at Sweetwater Center helped Ash to appreciate what she had, realize opportunities for growth and coax out her inner voice that deserved to be heard. They let her realize it was okay to not be okay. Most glorious however, was Ash's attempts to try to use her newfound strength to better her whole family. This provided some truly heartwarming scenes.
It's true, there's no place like home. But as Ash learned, sometimes when you leave home, you return with something that makes it so much better. Days of swimming fiascos and nights of bonfire wishes created the perfect background for Ash's journey. There was a frustratingly wonderful mutual relationship between Ash and Sweetwater Retreat. It was there she gained confidence, new best friends, and rediscovered the importance of family as she took on responsibility after responsibility. Authentically rich prose let Christina June's novel of family, friends, self-love, and courage melt into my heart. Relatable soul-crushing issues were met with beacons of hope and bravery as the story flew by. I also appreciated that therapy was shown to be extremely beneficial for good mental health. If this touching contemporary was anything like the rest of the author's work, I can't wait to read more.
No Place Like Here proves that sometimes you have to leave home to find it.
No Place Like Here was the first book I’ve read by Christina June, and while I didn’t love it, I’m definitely interested in reading more. Her writing style was light and care-free, making this a quick story perfect for a lazy summer day. It reminded me a lot of Leah Konen’s Happy Messy Scary Love, but a much better version of it.
The characters were really great. I was worried at first because we’re thrown into things very quickly. Ashlyn finds out some upsetting news about her family and her world starts to crumble, but without having any background information on her or getting to know her beforehand I had a hard time feeling any sympathy for her. As the story went on and we came to know Ashlyn more this changed and I ended up only wanting the best for her.
June’s main protagonist doesn’t completely steal the show; she also gave readers a great cast of side characters. Hannah, Ashlyn’s cousin, felt spunky and full of life. I also loved the majority of the others working at the retreat and felt they each had something unique to add to the book. It was really great to see that while romance was something Ashlyn pursued, it didn’t take over everything. She spent a lot of time focusing on herself and who she wanted to be.
One of the biggest themes in No Place Like Here was family. The dynamic of the Zanotti family felt so realistic and I related to a lot of it. I’m so glad that Ashlyn’s mother’s depression was talked about and dealt with instead of being brushed under the rug. We also see Ashlyn struggle with the anxiety of trying to live up to all of her father’s unrealistic demands and impossible expectations. Despite things not going great with her parents, Ashlyn is able to reconnect with her aunt, uncle, and cousin which really warmed my heart.
Overall, No Place Like Here was a book I’m glad I read! The passage of time was a little weird to me. It seemed like the majority of the summer was supposed to have passed but things felt like they were happening close together so I’m not entirely sure. If fluffy, quickly read, family themed reads that deal with important issues are your thing though, Christina June’s newest novel is definitely one you’ll want to pick up!
TL;DR: A quick read with some really great family themes and wonderful characters. Perfect for a lazy summer afternoon!
A finished copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This was a pleasant surprise. At first I wasn't enjoying this at all. I thought that the characters were all whinny and mean, but as the story progressed I began to truly enjoy the characters and family dynamics.
Ashlyn is such a strong character. She starts off a bit weak and quiet, but she reminded me of a quiet storm. She was much stronger than she gave herself credit for. She was thoughtful, kind, hardworking, a problem solver and solution finder. I loved the boldness she found as the story progressed. She was a pretty darn good character, especially with all she had to face.
Marcus seemed like a great guy at first. The bad boy with a sweet heart, however, when things changed he became a major dick. He was really pushy in a subtle way.
Baxter was an awesome guy. He wasn't pushy. He was tentative. He showed true interest. He was helpful with family issues and giving sound advice. Everything about him screamed prince. He didn't have to walk around showing how macho and manly he was. He just was a friend when Ashlyn needed one. I loved him!
Hannah seemed like annoying cousin at first, but I enjoyed her bluntness. She was outspoken and didn't hold back. She was harsh at times, but she was great for motivating others.
Ashlyn's parents pissed me off at first. Her dad seemed heartless and cruel. Her mother seemed to just sit down and take mental abuse. However, learning about her parents helped me to understand her father a lot more. I enjoyed their individual growth as well.
Deb was a horrible boss. She was too into herself and creating what she wanted. She didn't take into account the safety of others. She was irresponsible.
The retreat center was such a great aspect and essential to the growth of Ashlyn as a character. It allowed her to interact with others and open up. She gained confidence and a voice while working there.
I enjoyed this story and all that it provided in the view of family, love and friendship.