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Back When You Were Easier to Love

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,263 ratings  ·  214 reviews
What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan-the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah-unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding s ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 28th 2011 by Dutton Books for Young Readers (first published April 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.32  · 
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 ·  1,263 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Jacob Proffitt
I really enjoyed this, even though I never really warmed to Joy, the main character. Part of that is how well Smith writes the characters. They feel very real and that means the teenagers are flawed and obsessive and oblivious and callous. But also kind and generous and brave and caring. I've known people just like Joy and that made it bearable to spend so much time in her obsessive, overwrought head.

And it doesn't hurt that I really liked Noah. I spent probably the first half of the book thinki
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to warm to Joy, the main character. She was so caught up in her boyfriend, Zan, who had left and gone to college early. All of her friends were telling her to get over him, and honestly, they were right. I couldn't understand why Joy couldn't see that, and why she had to go around like the walking wounded.

And then I realized: She was wounded. She couldn't get over him. I started to realize that this is exactly how I acted and felt about things when I was a teenager. Yes, as a
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Laughed so hard through the entire book. Maybe that's because Haven reminded me SO MUCH of the town I spent my senior year of high school in (Pocatello, Idaho).
Oct 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
When Zan leaves Joy she is left feeling deserted, abandoned, heartbroken and with one goal... to get Zan back! Joy's friends all know she is better off without Zan, but obviously this means nothing to her. Instead she plans a cross-country trip with Zan's ex-BFF, Noah, so she can find Zan and make him hers again.

At first, I had a hard time getting through the first couple of chapters in this book. For one thing, I could not relate to Joy. She was stalkerish, mean-spirited, pathetic and more tha
May 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Most of us have been there, we’ve been dumped before. Then we do this thing where we put said dumper on a pedestal and try to figure out why someone so “amazing” dumped as. But as time marches on, amazing is replaced with some other adjectives, i.e. rude, pig-headed, insensitive, etc. So, yes this book is relatable, yet it is also creepy at how obsessive one can become with wanting “closure”. In reality, for a lot of us “closure” really means “give me one more chance, look at what you are missin ...more
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Joy needed some hobbies. I think there were a lot of issues at play here, and none of them were as developed as I would have liked them to be. I get she needs to latch on to someone when she's in a new place but to this point of obsession? I don't think so. I don't believe that about her character for a second.

I have a lot to say about this, but with the caveat that this is a really clean, sweet read for teens who like that kind of book.

Full review here:
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith is a book I went to with several assumptions already in place. I knew this was going to be a story of a girl who was desperate to get back her boyfriend who suddenly deserted her. I also knew this boyfriend was going to be a total asshat (totally right on that, by the way.) What I didn't know was would Joy come out of this stronger as a person, as her own person?

Synopsis: WHO ZAN IS: Blow-your-mind brilliant. Stop-your-heart gorgeous. Hold-yo
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here.

Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith is a fluffy light read with an interesting concept. Who doesn't like books with potentially awkward road trips in cool cars? The book certainly delivers in terms of that promise. It also delivers in terms of writing. The style works well for the plot and the imagery is very good. I think there are many teen girls out there who will be able to identify with the main character and enjoy going along for the ride. I don't n
Kristin (Beneath Shining Stars, I Read)
I don't like Zan. Yes, that was my first thought upon finishing Back When You Were Easier to Love. Why? Because there's the version of Zan that Joy fell in love with and then there's the real Zan--who is not a nice person. But it's the idealized Zan that Joy is in love with and when he leaves her in the dust to head to California, she can't come to terms with it. After all, he's left without saying a word to her and he's left her no way to get in contact with him. Joy is sure that if she goes to ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Back When You Were Easier to Love follows Joy's quest for closure. Her boyfriend Zan has left their small Mormon community to attend college in California. Joy places blame on the lame kids in her school because Zahn was so different. More mature, intelligent, good looking. You name it Zahn was better. Of course he’d have no choice but to leave for bigger and better things. This has her heading out on a road trip with Zahn's best friend and the hope she can find the closure she so desperately ne ...more

With its mouthful of a title and intensely Mormon setting, I knew that Back When You Were Easier to Love promised to be a quirky read. As soon as I opened the book, I immediately understood Joy’s desire for answers and whizzed through it. While Smith’s characters sometimes got on my nerves, Back When You Were Easier to Love is the perfect novel for anyone looking for a clean story of self-discovery and romance.

When we first meet Joy, she is obsessive about Zan and unhappy in the place where she
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
Listen to this description about the book here on Goodreads. --- Joy’s story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and her life now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.

This all sounds OK before you read the book. But after you're done with it you just want to yet at those who wrote those lines YOU LIARS! HOW DARE YOU LEAD ME ON TO THINK BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE IS ANOTHER Amy & Roger
Jul 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
Ack! I feel so deceived! First of all, that library scene on the cover? Like two seconds of the story is in a library. Secondly, it starts normal, but the further you get into it, the more Mormon/God/preachy it got! The 'bad' guy drank coffee and went to a college with coed dorms, GASP! There's a scene where a guy/girl has to share a hotel room, and it's like a crisis situation. Then they can't go to church the next morning because they don't have their church clothes! Okay, so I realize this is ...more
Michelle Sallay
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I adored this. I felt like every sentence was perfection. This is a coming of age story that shares a lesson of life that I learned the hard way, and I really related to it. I even was on board with Joy's obsession with one day seeing Barry Manilow in concert in Las Vegas. (Maybe one day...:) )

I've met Emily a couple of times, and I am excited that when I see her again I can genuinely tell her I loved her book.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I really liked the cover but I don't think it suits the story.

The main character, A.K.A. Joy, needed closure and somehow, she got it but the reader, A.K.A. ME, didn't. Where's the damn good kiss? The holding hands were cute though, but still... I'd really like to hear Noah's confession.

The book ended in a snap.

*Oh. And I thought Zan was gay. LOL.
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
i want a Noah Talbot!♥
Sarah (YA Love)
Review originally posted here:

Back When You Were Easier to Love is another one of my book choices for The Contemps Challenge, and I’m happy I chose it. It’s a very cute, funny novel that my girls in class will enjoy. Honestly, I’m not always too worried about whether a novel is “clean”, but this one is and it’s nice to know it will be available to my students.

This novel touches on a number of subjects including identity, faith, love and acceptance. Joy has
Sep 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-i-own
I should mention if there is one thing I love first and foremost about this book it is the author. Emily Wing Smith is one of the most down to earth, kind and honest people you'll ever encounter. She has overcome some major life obstacles plus has a master's degree and two published YA novels. If you ever get the chance you'll want to meet her. When she called to ask if she could swing by my home to deliver an ARC of Back When You Were Easier to love I was both delighted and touched. How many au ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog
Originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith is a first for me... For the first time that I can remember, I have nothing that I wish to say about a book. Oh, there are things that I'm thinking, thoughts that I'm having, but none of them are anything I actually wish to share. I always have far more thoughts and opinions about the books I read than can possibly fit into a review. I'm pretty sure I could easily come up w
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2011
3.5 stars. Joy is a Utah high school senior who's brokenhearted since her boyfriend, Zan, suddenly got his GED and left for college in California a year early without warning and without a word. Unable to get in touch with him and not understanding why he left, Joy decides she needs closure, which involves a road trip to the college over a long weekend with Noah, Zan's best friend who also hasn't heard from him.

The book is told both in the present and in a few flashbacks, showing why Joy is so o
A. Bookzilla.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: clean-read, dare-me
I want to give this a better rating, but really, when you don't like the heroine, who just so happens to narrate the book too, and being in her head is annoying, it's hard to like the book.

Because, to me, the heroine was so immature, so judgmental, so shallow, so clueless that it was hard to warm up to her even if I tried really hard to do it. She belittles everyone around her, completely undeserved, too, and the one person she glorifies is the least likable character of the book - Zan. You can
Kellee Moye
Reviewed at:

*Summary: Zan is gone. He left with no good bye, no explanation, no anything. Joy doesn't understand why he left and she misses him. So, Joy feels like she must go find Zan and get closure.

What I Think: I think that teenage Kellee would have loved this book a lot more than I did. Most teenagers at some point fall into what they feel is the love of their life. I did. This is a story about that. And about obsession and heart break. I think many
Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I’m on the fence about this read, hence my delay in reviewing, well, that and I have become very lazy in my reviewing of books as of late. But I digress.

This read was not at all what I was expecting. The religious undertone often drowned out the otherwise universal story. I consider this fact a detriment, thus my three star rating. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the book overall.

Joy is consumed by her relationship with Zan; it is how she defines herself. When Zan leaves without warning, or a goodby
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
The cover:

These kinds of kissing covers where the actual kissing is hidden are driving me crazy -- they're so unsubtle I want to punch a hole through them. The drawn, cartoony-cute feel is also at complete odds with the story's moody and meditative atmosphere. This cover gets a honking F.

The book:

While the reader is prepared for flashbacks from the back blurb, the number of them accompanied by the shortness of the chapters is simply migraine-inducing. Fortunately, we move out of flashback territ
Shanyn (Chick Loves Lit)
I know there is a little something off between a book and myself when I have to reread the first 20 pages because I can't figure out what's going on - especially with a contemporary novel. This was the case for Back When You Were Easier to Love, and even after rereading I didn't totally get it.

Joy is devastated because her boyfriend Zan is gone. He left for college early, but they never really discussed it so she isn't sure what's going on.

Meh to that, but regardless.

There are flashbacks through
Ashlie Gray
May 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Maybe this book is just a little too young for me or maybe it's just really terrible writing. One, unless you're LDS a lot of what she talks about won't make sense and the book just had a constant undertone of self righteousness. Two, as someone who is LDS and from Utah, this book portrays us so poorly it's embarrassing. Although I do know people who think like this woman obviously does it is so narrow minded and ignorant it very unfairly misrepresents the lds faith. Two, she has created a chara ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to elissa by:
This book was fine, and definitely a quick read. I learned from reading this that Mormons don't drink caffeine, which I had never heard before. I did appreciate that even though all of the characters were Mormon, that it didn't dwell on that, and was mostly a pretty universal story of a girl having trouble getting over a first love and moving on with her life. The structure of the book was odd, in that it moved back and forth in time at the beginning, and then it all started to go forward at som ...more
When your boyfriend, the young man you can picture yourself marrying (after college) and loving for the rest of forever ('cos you're both Mormon) leaves for college a year early and doesn't say good-bye, you know you should take it as a kiss-off. But sometimes, love gets in the way of what you know you should do. Such is the case with Joy. This book has everything I never knew I wanted in a book: Beverage Night, Soccer Lovin' boys, a Vegas Buffet and Barry Manilow. It's not a widely known book. ...more
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, young-adult
I am not sure why I read this book. I am not sure why I requested it form another library to be sent to me. All I know is that I really needed to read something so I read this. Two of my favorite authors had glowing things to say. I must have read a good review somewhere but can't find it know.

Not a bad book, just not a good book. Very predictable and slow moving. Could have been a 20 short story.

Why did I read it? I wanted to read and it was there. I kept reading because I thought it would get
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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