Author: Sarah Tork
Release Date: February 13th, 2015
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Format: Ebook, Received from author in exchange for an honest review
Previously published as Young Annabelle Series: Young Annabelle, The Truth About James, What My Heart Wants.
The first time I met James I thought he was an idiot. But the more time we spent together the more I realized that he was just as angry as I was. Him with his dad and me with my mom. He’s got me all twisted, messed up to a point where I barely recognize myself anymore. My best friend tells me to dump him. My parents don’t know he exists. But I can’t seem to stay away. When we’re alone it’s everything, but when we’re at school it’s like we don’t even exist, and I wish he’d tell me why.
Already a star on the Royal Heights High School Baseball team, James Lawson wasn’t your average transfer student. Even with his ‘new guy’ status, he quickly becomes one of the popular ‘Kings’ at school and that alone should have been the red flag Annabelle needed to stay away from him. He’s arrogant, intense, rude and worst of all he seems like the kind of guy that usually gets what he wants. But the more time they spend together the more it becomes difficult to stay away from him, especially with all the stress her mother is causing her concerning her appearance. As if she didn't already have enough to worry about, she finds out that the popular ‘Queen’ of Royal Heights High had her sights set on a certain popular ‘King’. In Donna Tallins eyes, James was her perfect match, but there was one person standing in her way of high school couple stardom. And that was Annabelle.
I was asked over a year ago to read Young Annabelle by the author herself. I was just starting out my blog and she was one of the first ones to look into me for a review opportunity. I was so honored to do so I. I really enjoyed the book and have continued to read her books when my TBR pile is forgiving enough to let me sneak one in. She took the first 3 books of the Young Annabelle series and chopped them up a bit and put them all together into this one book.
I found Young Annabelle to be kind of long and drawn out the first time I read it. I still enjoyed the book, but at times I wanted to choke Annabelle's mom. You get A LOT of her in the original version. I am glad that it was cut down a bit in the first book. You got all the meaning out the first one, even the mother hounding her for being over weight. The author does a great job of clipping parts out to make it more enjoyable. There were some parts there were a little choppy, but not enough that you couldn't figure it all out. I did have a couple times where I had to re-read the parts because it jumped quite a bit further ahead.
I love Annabelle as a character. I know how it is to be picked on for your weight. I happened to be considered anorexic when I was younger, so even though I wasn't overweight, I still got called a lot of names anyway. I wasn't anorexic, I just had a super high metabolism and I grew a foot in height in less than a year as well as being on a soccer team for my high school. I was very active, was a bottomless pit, but because of my growth and running all the time, I just didn't gain weight. My self-esteem was definitely low because of it. I still don't look people in the eyes unless I am forcing myself to do so, I walk with my head down and it has been almost 10 years since I graduated high school. It definitely wears you down. I was proud of Anna for all that she did. She definitely had her fair share of meltdowns, but they were usually at a time that was understandable. You can't expect her to come around in a day. It takes time, but you can tell she works on it, even if she wants to give up sometimes. She was a strong character that did so much growth through the pages.
James...I don't know what to say about him.I didn't love him but I didn't hate him either. He definitely came across as a egotistical jerkbag, but I think it was more of a coping mechanism than who he really was. There were so many times though that he does so much to Annabelle that I couldn't stand him. I really wanted him gone. He ends up giving us a glimpse into himself later on in the book to really help us understand all of him and let us look at him in a different light. I learned to like him in the end, but it took some work for me to get to that point. He has a lot more demons going on in his life, but I definitely felt he was really immature in how he handled some things.
The author has some other secondary characters even if they don't feel like they are. You have Jenna, Donna, Latisha, Becky, Peter, Tom, Roy, Dean, Joe and more that I can't remember right now. They all have big personalities that shine through even in their little parts they have. Some of course have more than others, but you still get a sense of who they are. You also get to feel emotions through them. There are some that you want to punch and others you want to run and hug and tell them it will be okay.
I loved the message throughout the book. One was to never give up, even when times are super tough and you don't feel you can make it, there is always something good waiting for you. You just have to hold yourself together enough to get the prize. I also loved the message of love yourself. There were so many characters that had such a hard time with who they were. Even the "hot" girl crew had their doubts even if they went to evil measure to try to change it. It doesn't matter if you are short, tall, skinny, or chunky. You are the only you there is, so you need to love yourself. I still battle from this, so this book definitely helped me remember that.
This is a wonderful book that would be worth reading no matter who you are. The characters are teenagers, but yet their is a depth in them that rivals any adult out there. The messages are amazing and the smile on your face when it ends is worth it.