{Review/Giveaway} PROMISE ME SOMETHING by Sara Kocek

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and chances to win your own copy of PROMISE ME SOMETHING and THIS IS HOW I FIND HER!
Check out my interview with Sara Kocek,
part of the Sara2 Blog Tour!

Check out my review of the other book I'm giving away,
THIS IS HOW I FIND HER by Sara Polsky!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

THE NIGHT OLIVE BARTON VANISHED into the woods at Talmadge Hill, I got my first kiss. I was wearing sticky drugstore lip gloss that smelled like a creamsicle. Sugar-drunk off cherry soda and peppermint patties, I had no idea that a mile away in the frigid dark, the night was opening its mouth to swallow a girl.
(pg. 6, US ebook edition)

Just in time for the start of the new school year comes a book about the beginning of high school. Everyone goes through this year. Not everyone faces the horror of being a "new girl" starting over from scratch.

Reyna Fey is appalled when her neighborhood is redistricted, forcing her to attend Belltown High while her friends all go to Ridgeway High. She has to start all over, and this time, making friends is tougher. When a weird girl named Olive reaches out to Reyna, she gives their friendship a try despite her misgivings. If she'd been at Ridgeway, Olive and her would never have anything in common. They don't now, either, but over time, they build a semblance of a friendship. Reyna is so caught up in her own personal hell, she doesn't realize that Olive has a dark side capable of inflicting harm. Olive only needs a friend, someone to care and believe in her. Can Reyna be that friend, or is she too caught up in the game of high school appearances and peer pressure?

There are many issues at stake in PROMISE ME SOMETHING. In her debut novel, Sara Kocek tackles the issues of teen suicide, teens coping with their sexual orientation, teens with gay parents, teens whose parents are getting remarried and "replacing" a deceased parent, teachers capable of extreme bullying, and more. There's a lot at stake, and Kocek isn't afraid to get her hands dirty in order to portray a realistic look at the upheaval teens go through on a daily basis. As the novel progresses, the story belongs to Olive just as much as it does Reyna. We see flashes of what makes her tick through little e-mail/forum inserts in ways we never would if the book was solely through Reyna's eyes. Reyna has no clue what Olive is going through, and Olive's dual resentment towards  and admiration of Reyna runs deeper than Reyna would ever imagine. At times, I really didn't like Reyna. She's completely caught up in herself and her own misery; she doesn't know who she is at all. She caves in to peer pressure and lets a bad situation get worse. She is incapable of standing up for what she believes in if her opinion doesn't match the majority's. At the same time, so many teens are like this, so she's also relatable. My favorite character was actually Levi, a guy who becomes Reyna's love interest, though his role is more minor in order to keep the issues the focal point of the story. Levi grew up with two mothers and withstood abuse. He knows how to stand up for what he believes in and doesn't care what his peers think of him. He is everything Reyna isn't, and his presence in her life helps her gain courage of her own. He's a great, admirable character that I always enjoyed seeing on the page. The novel's twist was predictable (to me, at least) and made less of an impact than it might have if handled differently. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending, but on a whole, PROMISE ME SOMETHING addresses many important issues that need to be talked about, not hidden.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The railroad tracks on this cover play an important role in PROMISE ME SOMETHING. The model could actually be one of three characters, too. It's up to the reader to decide who they're looking at and what they're thinking about. It's very wide-open for interpretation!

I also like the way the scriptiness of the word "Something" in the title bisects its curls up into the rest of the title, "Promise Me." The same (almost the same?) shade of blue runs behind the author's name and helps it to stand out. The color adds lightness to this cover, makes it less dark and somber.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Sara Kocek
Release Date: Sept. 1, 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Received: For Review 

As if starting high school weren't bad enough, Reyna Fey has to do so at a new school without her best friends. Reyna's plan is to keep her head down, help her father recover from the car accident that almost took his life, and maybe even make some friends. And then Olive Barton notices her. Olive is not exactly the kind of new friend Reyna has in mind. The boys make fun of her, the girls want to fight her, and Olive seems to welcome the challenge. There's something about Olive that Reyna can't help but like. But when Reyna learns Olive's secret, she must decide whether it's better to be good friends with an outcast or fake friends with the popular kids. . . .before she loses Olive forever.


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  1. This is contemporary, it usually takes a special book to spark my interest. I think this one may fit the bill.

    1. Of the two, the other was my favorite, personally. I hope this fits the bill for you, Gina! Right now I'm reading CRASH INTO YOU by Katie McGarry and reminded of why I loved the contemporary novel PUSHING THE LIMITS so crazy much. Check her out if you haven't! I like contempoirary with grit and great characters!


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