I'm of various minds about this book. I definitely liked it, but I definitely didn't LOVE it. The latter might in large part be due to the fact that I just finished a book that I loved the way that I love my cats. I just want my face to be buried in it 24/7. So admittedly every time I thought "eh" during this book, I also thought "okay but you just came off a book that made your heart grow three sizes and also made you cry for a good five minutes". It's a hard thing to live up to.
The good parts of the book mainly involve the two main characters. I liked Ada and Corinne a lot, and their friendship as an unbreakable aspect of the book make the story... well... iron cast. I felt a little confused about Ada's shift in personality from being in Haversham to out of it, as she comes off as a little more of a spitfire and Corinne a little more prim - I really felt like that was entirely 180'd post the first couple of chapters. Perhaps this was for a reason, I'm sure I could come up with some. Ada is a little more stand-her-ground when Corinne is there to back her up, she knows that Corinne won't bite back the way that others will, there are plenty of explanations, but none that I feel were well represented in the text. I did find Ada's story to be a little more interesting, but I was also expecting the book to focus more on her, especially considering the cover. And speaking frankly I find the "upper class white girl trying to get away from it all" story a little bit tiring, and I felt that the politics of Corinne's family and relationship started to overwhelm Ada, who, at the start the book, essentially is already in a stable relationship with complicated family feelings, sure, but not a lot of conflict. And because she doesn't go through such a complicated morass of conflict, it takes the focus off of her, just a little bit. But the relationship between the two are a strong enough core, and it absolutely refuses to shake from that.
Did I kind of hope that they'd end up together? Yes. I'm tired of reading YA about REALLY REALLY REALLY CLOSE GAL PALS. Especially when a boy/girl are REALLY REALLY REALLY CLOSE they're a couple by the end of most YA (or really any genre or level of reading), it was just a little disappointing. I didn't feel the disappointment quite as much as, say, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, but it was there. The haphazard "by the by Saint is gay" actually only accentuated my disappointment in the area. That little thing comes like a quarter from the end of the book, at which point I was already coming to the conclusion there wouldn't BE gay characters AT ALL. The fact that Saint is confirmed in such a quick, throwaway manner was almost more insulting, like it was remembered last minute. I caught some of the hints here and there, sure, but with heteronormativity such a clear standard, what was there to gain from it? Other
people can be gay. Not main characters. That doesn't say much more to me than lack of representation period, sorry. Also, to me, a little uncomfortable that Ada is dating a black guy and Corinne is dating a white guy? It's very subtle, I suppose, but it still stood out to me that relationships were kind of uncrossed in this manner.
But hey, at the very least there wasn't any "He looked at me the way the MAN looks at a WOMAN" which is a sentence structure I'd like to purge from literature in every goddamn way.
I did think that the story took a little bit to get started, but when it did there were some plot twists that I was wholly unprepared for. Not mentioning them for spoilers, but even with an attuned sense of tropes, there were a handful of twists that caught me off guard, and there's an admiration to be gained from that. I did think that some of the plot was kind of padded with fluff scenes I didn't really care about, but I'm willing to concede that might be because they were mostly Corinne's family scenes.
The book tries to evoke Boston, but as someone who's lived in Boston, I didn't feel it? The only reason I actually remember it takes place in Boston is because I remember a few times when it mentioned it and I thought "oh, I forgot this is Boston." When I do that like three times, I feel like that should say something. Not that it has to be all Red Sox, clam chowder, and accents, but there was nothing in the book that I felt defined it as Boston, and therefore any setting atmosphere it's trying to evoke by locating it there was lost on me.
All in all, I liked the book. I liked Ada, I generally liked Corinne. The writing was fine, the plot twists were well done. But it lacked an oomph to me, but I'll keep an eye out for this author, because maybe her next book will have it.