{Review} MAYBE THIS TIME by Kasie West

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

  THE CAFETERIA HAD BEEN transformed into a red-and-pink extravaganza. Like Hello Kitty herself had decorated for the occasion. The flowers, my contribution to the party, sat in the center of each table.

(page 1, US ARC edition)

Longtime readers know that Kasie West is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I'm not a huge contemporary reader, but I will auto-read evething she's written and I own all of her books. West's brand-new release, MAYBE THIS TIME is her twelfth published novel, and it is one of my favorite books that she has written. And the kicker? I didn't think I'd like it that much and wasn't very excited about it!

The book takes place over the the course of a year, and I don't usually care for books spread out over time like that. I find them choppy and lacking substance and you never get a real connection between the characters because there's so much catching up to do this. But in this case? It works. It really, really works. The relationship is centered around one of my favorite romance tropes, hate-to-love, and the fact that these two can't stand each other for so long makes their early, further-apart interactions make sense. It also makes it so the book isn't full of insta-love, and these two have to work for it if they want to have a relationship!

Sophie can't wait to graduate high school and move to NYC for college. She wants to be a designer and have opportunities she can't find in her small town, but nobody else supports her dreams and believe that she'll just stay here like everyone else, including her best friend and her mother. To make money to afford the college of her dream, she works at a florist shop and arranges flowers for various town events, from big town shindigs to retirement home Valentine's Day parties to weddings to funerals. Her best friend Micah's dad is a caterer, and he won a competition to have his company evaluated for a year by famous chef Jett Hart. When Sophie meets Jett's son, Andrew, they immediately are at odds. Unfortunately, the florist and the caterer are always needed at town events, so they are both forced to encounter one another at various events throughout the year. Sophie always dreads seeing him at various events, until...suddenly she doesn't. She may even be beginning to like the enemy??

I really enjoyed the way the relationship between Andrew and Sophie evolved. It felt very natural and not forced at all. Insta-Love wasn't an issue here because it took time for the two to begin to trust and confide in one another. I like that toward the end, the interaction between the two became more frequent with events that weren't quite as spread out, because it really gave the two the chance to connect, and that was really when the book began to shine.

There was also a really fun element at the start of each chapter! Since Sophie works in a florist shop, she highlights a flower and gives some facts, as well as adding some Sophie Snark into the mix. These snippets are from little placards that Sophie makes at the florist shop, and I thought it was so cute! Plus, the design is really pretty:

I love that West's books are always grounded in real life. The families are always present. There are always friendships. And, of course, a little romance! There are always themes or issues that real teens can identify with. In this case, for example, if Andrew and Sophie were to get together, it would be while Sophie is still in high school. Andrew is only in town for a year, and most of the year has gone by before these two switch gears and change their minds about one another. Once he's off to the next town, it's gone. Is it worth exploring a long-distance relationship? Many teens going off to college often have these same feelings and must evaluate what they want and can emotionally handle, and I like that the theme is explored here as well. Many YA novels gloss over the fact that characters get together right before college and that the distance that will soon separate them will be difficult, especially for a newly established couple. While this isn't exactly the same scenario, Sophie is looking ahead to college and while her heart is set on NYC, she may find herself at a State college instead. I liked how all of this was analyzed and packaged together.

You guys know I'm not a huge contemporary YA reader. It takes a lot to make me fall in love with contemporary. Kasie West is one of very few contemporary YA authors that I will be TBR without even knowing what the book is about. (Like in this case! I honestly wasn't super interested in this one based on the summary, but wanted to read it because I love all of her books, and now it's one of my absolute favorites from her! The writing and Kasie West Brand is just that good!) Her books are always so fun and sweet and cute! They're really clean, too, so I recommend them a lot to younger teens. But the books also hit the sweet spot with older YA readers. West found that perfect balance and her books are great no matter your age!

I've previously reviewed quite a few novels by West: PIVOT POINTTHE DISTANCE BETWEEN USTHE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, ON THE FENCEP.S. I LIKE YOU, and LUCKY IN LOVE (I thought I'd reviewed more than this...and maybe I have. Blogger doesn't save and recall posts the same way anymore, so it's harder to find everything!) So if you want a great contemporary YA, you can't go wrong with any of these books!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( kissing...Kasie West never takes it too far for a tween to read!  )
Language:  -Gkissing...Kasie West never takes it too far for a tween to read!  )-
Violence: --
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N: 

I like that there are flowers on the cover. While the image of a girl on a bike is nothing special or out of the ordinary, I love that the bike has a basket and the basket is full of flowers. Granted, one wouldn't be carting flowers to an event this way because they'd get all wilted and broken and messy, but I could see Sophie going on a picnic or something and collecting wildflowers to bring home for a bouquet, so it works! Flowers are really important to the story and to Sophie in many ways, so this addition feels integral to me!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Kasie West
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Point // Scholastic
Received: For Review


One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year's Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn't so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.