The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

The One That Got Away

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel
Published August 22, 2017 by Penguin
Format: Netgalley e-book; 352 pages
Fiction/Romance/Retellings
Also By This Author: Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future, Love by the Book
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

The One That Got Away is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a classic tale of love revisited. Melissa Pimentel reimagines Persuasion in her own way, turning quiet and humble Anne Elliot into determined and witty Ruby Atlas. Captain Wentworth has evolved into Ethan Bailey, a Forbes magazine featured technology entrepreneur, who, I was happy to discover, treated Ruby much more warmly than Wentworth treated Anne after their angsty decade apart (I love Captain Wentworth, but even he acknowledged that he was rather cold to Anne).

The One That Got Away alternates between the present, where Ruby and her ex Ethan are awkwardly reunited for a week in England to celebrate the wedding between Ruby’s sister and Ethan’s best friend, and past flashbacks covering Ruby and Ethan’s short, but passionate romance. Ruby is forced to confront her lingering and unrequited feelings for Ethan while surrounded by her family and their own erupting problems, all the while suffering over the real, secret reason she broke up with Ethan ten years ago.

When I first heard about this novel from a friend, I knew I had to read it. Persuasion is one of my top five favorite novels, and therefore it’s practically sacred to me. I’ve read three other Persuasion retellings (here are my reviews of Amelia Elkins Elkins and The Last Best Kiss), as well as two blog retellings (Half Hope and Only Annie), and the only time I was disappointed was while reading For Darkness Shows the Stars. I won’t give any spoilers, but Kai alters something that I didn’t agree with ethically.

I thoroughly enjoyed The One That Got Away. Ruby was an entertaining narrator, and her and Ethan’s relationship felt real and bittersweet. I was pleasantly surprised by how Melissa Pimentel improved the minor characters, specifically Ruby’s family, and strengthened relationships instead of severing them as I had expected.

Ruby, listen to me. You are a human. You are allowed to feel sad, and scared, and whatever else you feel. You’re allowed to feel things. Stop trying to out-tough life.

Read This Book If…

…you are open to retellings of classic literature.
…you are not opposed to cursing and sexual references in books (I’d rate this book PG-13, with a generous dose of the f-bomb).
…you enjoy unrequited and lost love stories.
…you are in a slump and need a book to lift your spirits!

She dwelled on the way he smiled when he saw her, like she was made of a million tiny stars.

Final Musings

I was reading through two historical fiction novels lately; one is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the other is the final installment in a series that I love. But they both deal with dark eras in history that have reemerged as current events, and I have been struggling to keep myself together dealing with real-life, let alone fictionalized accounts, of war, racism, and hatred.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by my feelings and convictions and I just want to turn my compassion meter off so I can recuperate. This in turn makes me feel guilty and then I find myself in a vicious cycle, alternating between anger, hopelessness, and self-loathing. This is not healthy. As guilty as I felt for wanting to escape, I’m glad I did.

I will still finish those other two novels I’ve been reading, because they’re powerful and important, but it was refreshing and uplifting to read The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel. If you need a pick-me-up to get you through the end of summer, I’d sincerely recommend this one!

What are some novels that have helped you escape from the burdens of reality? And if you know of any other worthy Persuasion retellings, please share them with me!

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The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published May 3, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Format: e-book; 519 pages
Young Adult/Romance
Also By This Author: Amy & Roger’s Epic DetourSecond Chance SummerSince You’ve Been Gone
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥

I know I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but Morgan Matson is one of my favorite contemporary Young Adult authors. So I was stoked when I found out that Tiff at Mostly YA Lit was hosting a Morgan Matson event to celebrate the release of The Unexpected Everything! She’s already posted some pretty rad interviews, quizzes, and giveaways, so hop over to her blog to check them out! But first, here’s my own review of The Unexpected Everything as well as a fun little dare I was challenged to this week.

Thoughts:

Another heartwarming book by Morgan Matson! I just love how she writes coming-of-age stories and makes you laugh, cry, and feel every awkward situation along with her characters. I never have a hard time connecting with the characters in Morgan Matson’s books; they’re quirky, goofy, loyal, and fittingly enough they’re always trying to deal with the unexpected.

Andie Walker has everything planned. She’s going to be pre-med, she’s attending an esteemed college program the summer before her senior year, and her father is a well-known politician so even all of her social media posts are planned ahead of time. But suddenly all of her plans have fallen through and Andie finds herself hired as a dog walker, spending a lot of unexpected (and meaningful) time with her father after his campaign is marred by scandal, and crushing on a socially-awkward fantasy-nerd who challenges all of her preconceived notions of her typical summer fling.

Clark and Andie’s relationship was great! Morgan Matson sure knows how to create cute nerds (there’s one in each of her books). But my favorite part of this book was the relationships between Andie and her three best friends. During the entire book, this tight-knit group of BFFs is the only constant in Andie’s life, until suddenly it’s not. For me that was the best part of Andie’s journey. It made me reflect on my own relationships with former and current friends of mine. Besides unexpected circumstances, reconciliation is always a theme in Morgan Matson’s books and there’s something so powerful and deep about how it resonates with me.

Read This Book If…

…you love books that are centered on friendships.
…you appreciate characters who make mistakes and reconcile relationships.
…you enjoy contemporary YA romances.
…you’re looking for a fun, swoony, & touching book to read this summer!

“I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”

The Unexpectedly Epic Dare Challenge!

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This week I was challenged to an #UnexpectedlyEpic dare as part of the Morgan Matson event being held by Tiff at Mostly YA Lit.

Here was my dare:

Reply to 5 different people on any social media platform using only lyrics from Taylor Swift songs.

My initial reaction:

This is silly…
AND
I don’t know enough Taylor Swift songs!

Game plan:

Listen to every T-Swift song and read all of her lyrics, which means I analyzed* them and tried to be prepared for situations on social media where I could sneakily insert some Taylor Swift lyrics into the conversation. (*Yes, I’m aware that I’m a nerd. Can you tell that I was an English major in college who actually enjoyed research papers?)

Results:

  1. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.06.05 PM
    This was the easiest one to do. I actually think about my favorite web series Green Gables Fables whenever I hear Taylor Swift’s “Everything Has Changed,” but I couldn’t find a good post on tumblr to post those lyrics to. So instead I saw this gif set from one of my favorite episodes (when Gilbert is being a super encouraging friend to Anne) and reblogged it with lyrics from “Stay Beautiful.”
  2. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 9.59.15 PM
    Ok, I realized after I did this one that I was only supposed to use lyrics, but I wanted to be really encouraging to my friend Shakira so that’s why I added the last part after the lyrics from “Ours” :) This was probably my favorite part of the dare, realizing that doing something silly like quoting Taylor Swift lyrics could actually be uplifting to someone.
  3. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.10.26 PM
    Of course I had to find a way to quote Taylor Swift lyrics to Morgan Matson! She included “Stay Stay Stay” on this playlist for her Michigan book tour and when I looked up the lyrics I saw that they really fit with Andie and Clark’s relationship.
  4. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.01.07 PM
    Hahaha! This one was the hardest one to post. One of my guy friends was chaperoning Prom and I immediately knew that I could find some dance-related lyric to comment with. I was trying to avoid “Shake it Off” but hey, it fit pretty well.
  5. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.46.50 PM
    My best friend Jae actually really dislikes Taylor Swift, so I wanted to post lyrics to one of her posts just to be funny :) But in all honesty these lyrics from “Never Grow Up” made me want to cuddle with my baby and this is a great picture Jae took of him.

Reactions:

Originally I thought this was going to be a really silly dare, and it was silly, but it was also a bit eye-opening for me. While it was fun to make a fool of myself online, I also realized that there’s more to Taylor Swift songs than love at first sight and heartbreak. As I was listening to a playlist on YouTube I found this video of Taylor Swift sending Christmas presents to some of her biggest fans (and in one case she even surprise-visited a fan). I thought it was incredibly thoughtful and sweet and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me want to cry.

Thank you to whoever gave me this dare! I enjoyed listening to Taylor Swift on repeat & being challenged to do something silly :)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Published January 2, 2012 by Poppy
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover; library checkout; 236 pages
Also By This Author: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

So I’m officially a fan of Jennifer E. Smith now. This is the second book of hers I’ve read in two months that I really, really enjoyed. I guess I should probably give The Geography of You and Me another chance. Maybe I’ll like it better now ;)

About the book…
Yes, it’s a contemporary romance, but surprisingly that wasn’t the deepest part about this novel, and I wouldn’t say it was my favorite part, either. Hadley, our main character is going through a difficult period with her dad after her parents’ divorce. In fact, the only reason Hadley meets Oliver is because she’s flying over to London for her father’s wedding, something she’s dreading.

I totally understand why Hadley’s mad at and hurt by her father, too. He kind of skipped out on Hadley and her mom by moving to England and then having an affair with his now-fiancé. But each chapter Hadley confronts a memory or fear about her father that causes her to reflect on the deterioration of their relationship and what she wishes it would be like, and meeting Oliver at the airport on the way to London is what forces her to do that. Along the way she develops feelings for Oliver, but in my opinion this novel is less about falling in love and more about restoring relationships. There’s one heartwarming chapter in particular that really tugged at my feelings, but I don’t want to say anything more about it to avoid spoilers!

Read This Book If…

…you love stories about reconciliations.
…you enjoy novels that touch on darker emotions, such as grief, hate, heartbreak, and unforgiveness.
…you like characters who make you laugh (Oliver is an adorable dork).
…you like reading books about parent-child relationships.

“In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.”

Final Musings

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is definitely a re-readable book for me! I loved Hadley and Oliver and the journey they take together. They reminded me that being a teenager is tough and that everyone has complicated relationships with their parents, but that’s not a reason to give up on them because of a falling-out. And on a lighter note, Oliver and Hadley were adorable together! There were several moments in this book that gave me “heart eyes” :)