Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Publisher – Simon & Schuster
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary
Okay, so I went into this book not really knowing what to expect because I haven’t read the first Chloe Snow book. So imagine my surprise when I found myself totally and utterly gripped.
And, on reflection, I’m not even sure how I got so gripped because this book is literally the day-to-day diary of a teenage girl. It shouldn’t be engrossing, but Emma Chastain made it so.
What it’s About
The Year of Living Awkwardly is a pretty apt title for this book; Chloe’s awkwardness is cringeworthy, but not so cringeworthy that it’s totally unrealistic.
The story follows Chloe as she begins sophomore year, which is difficult enough for anyone. But when you add in her parents’ messy divorce (and her dad going out with her English teacher! Good god, the cringe), her less-than-perfect school musical audition, and the fact that Queen Bee Reese has stolen both her best friend and the guy she liked, it’s shaping up to be a pretty rubbish year for Chloe.
Because I haven’t read Chloe’s first book, I obviously can’t comment on her character growth over the two books. She is pretty immature, especially when it comes to talking and arguing with her dad – but what teenager isn’t? I did really like how she tried to give herself little reality checks (like how’s she’s straight and white) whenever she complained about her life.
I would like to think I was that self aware when I was sixteen, but I have my doubts.
Chloe’s friendship with Tris was also very, very sweet. I love a good, strong friendship that makes me sick to my stomach with jealously. I loved their text message conversations, and how they bounced off each other; they supported one another through their difficulties without sugar coating everything.
The same unfortunately can’t be said for Hannah, who is one of Chloe’s best friends, but who gets lured to the dark side by Reese, leaving Chloe and Tris. I liked Hannah initially, and while she did irritate me with her blinkered view of Reese, I could totally understand her need to please. I was definitely rooting for her to see the light and go back to Chloe and Tris.
Grady is our love interest, and he’s wonderfully swoony, although I do wish we could have seen more of him when we wasn’t going out with Reese, but it was a lovely ending nonetheless so it made up for it.
Initially, I didn’t think I was going to be a fan of the way Chloe’s story was told; we get dated day-by-day diary entries written by Chloe, and it’s been so long since I read a book in this format that it took me a little bit to get used to it. But after that I loved it! I loved the little “can’t write much, speak soon” entries; it just made it feel so real.
Emma’s writing is totally addictive, and I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for her work from now on! It’s a mark of a good writer when she can make someone (me) enjoy the second book in a series I’d never read or knew anything about. And while, yeah, there were quite a lot of backstory mentioned, there weren’t any times where I felt totally lost off. Just brilliant.
*thank you to Simon & Schuster, who sent me a free copy in exchange for an honest review*