|BACK WHEN YOU WERE EASIER TO LOVE|
Emily Wing Smith
Dutton Children's Books
This book was super-cute, let's get that out of the way right off the bat. It's funny, nice, sweet, and squeaky-clean. I'm honestly a little surprised it's being published as mainstream YA fiction just because there's so much Mormonism in the story and I know that's going to put off a few readers. And those that aren't put off by this might be a bit confused in some parts. Though the author does a good job of explaining most of the more Mormon-specific details, there were still a few times when I found myself just the smallest bit out of the loop.
There were a few things about this book that seemed a bit off-kilter and out of line with the characters. Though Joy's journey as she tries to make sense of her break up with Zan, the boy she thought was perfect, is sweet and funny, it often seems a bit contrived. A suspension of disbelief is needed in order to buy into Joy and Noah both lying to their parents and roadtripping out-of-state by themselves. (Not to mention that all of Joy's friends went along with this plan.) These don't seem like characters that would skip a boring class, much less leave town with a member of the opposite sex. It's easier to believe coming from Joy, whose obsession and lingering questions over Zan seem to be clouding her judgement, but it was a real stretch to believe that super-good, super-popular, super-duper-duper Noah would go along with her.
However, in spite of these flaws I absolutely enjoyed this book. Not to give too much away, but Zan was such a jerk and there's a nice contrast between his personality and the personalities of Noah and the blind-to-reality Joy. There are a few subplots here regarding Joy's feelings on moving to a town like Haven and the friends she's made, and these are wrapped up nicely in Joy's story as she makes the journey from obsessing over Zan and refusing to move on to... well, driving out to California and having to confront the boy she thought she loved.
The ending seems a bit abrupt and I wanted at least a couple more pages of wrap-up, but in all this book was far from disappointing and I recommend it for anyone who wants a sweet, funny, wholesome story of what happens after first love ends.Back When You Were Easier to Love is set to be released April 28, 2011.
*Received ARC at ALA.