Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Sometimes It Happens

Author: Lauren Barnholdt

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Publication Date: July 2011

Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone:
Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

Hannah feels abandoned by her selfish yet loyal best friend Ava when Ava moves to Maine for the summer. Leaving Hannah alone, after just being cheated on and dumped by her boyfriend, Hannah spends a couple of days moping until she gets a job at the local diner, with Ava’s boyfriend Noah. As the summer wears on, Hannah ventures out of her comfort zone to discover music and friendship, but also discovers something she wasn’t looking for. Love in the form of her best friend’s boyfriend.

Sometimes It Happens is my first Lauren Barnholdt story and it won’t be my last. She navigates the gray area so well, you can’t help feel pulled into Ava, Hannah and Noah’s struggles with each other. The book flips back and forth between the first day of school during senior year and during the summer as Ava and Hannah’s friendship is strained and Hannah and Noah’s friendship grows. Easily, this delicate topic of best friends cheating could have been preachy, whiny and overly dramatic. But Barnholdt skillfully plays the scenes so that every character is equally at fault.

I really enjoyed the flipping of time through the novel. After each chapter, I wanted to go back to find out what happened, but was also really happy I had moved back into the other time with the last cliffhanger fresh in my mind. The tension on the first day of school, if she tells Hannah, whether Hannah already knows, what Noah is thinking, is very real. I felt like I was with Hannah that first day of senior year, and the stress and unease she experienced balanced well with the softer moments of the summer.

Barnhold does such a wonderful job making Hannah, Ava and Noah all layered characters. I can’t say I liked Ava, but her fierce loyalty to Hannah, and her many flaws in their relationship was very real for me. I liked her, not enough to cheer for her, but enough to be sad for her. I rooted for Hannah and Noah, but at the same time was disappointed in them and their choices. I thought the ending was very well written and open. The only way to get through these things, which sometimes happen, is to be true to yourself and to take responsibility. Hannah, Ava and Noah all grew naturally in the book and refreshingly, didn’t shy away from their actions, even if they were wrong. They each had their own part to play in the mess they made and they confronted their personal issues head on.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

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