Thursday, June 28, 2012
When You Were Mine
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Simon Pulse, 2012
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
I came in to this book with a bit of baggage. Like many I read Romeo and Juliet in school and at the time, I was very into the love story. Rosaline was a non-entity, the girl that Romeo thought he loved because he didn't know what true love was. As I got older, I became more skeptical of that romanticized view but I still didn't care about Rosaline. Could this book make me do that? And second the title is the same as this Lady Antebellum song, which I love but which constantly gets stuck in my head (mostly just that one line) and which I sang many times while reading this book.
Alas this book did not make me root for Rosaline. She and her friends are the popular girls, with a significant amount of vapidity that I ate up because it was easy to read but hated myself for liking. Then there is Rob (the Romeo of the book) who was away for the summer. Before he left, the two seemed on the brink of a relationship and it seems like this might finally be the time that they get it together. After one date, Rose is convinced it's going to happen...until her cousin Juliet returns to her hometown and sets her sights on Rob. Being a fun vivacious person who goes after what she wants, the two are soon in a relationship and Rose is left weeping.
Given that the story hangs on loathing Juliet as the mean girl who steals Rose's true love and brings destruction, it was a problem that I didn't hate Juliet. In fact, I kind of liked her. She didn't receive much characterization but I admired her determination and ambition. Furthermore, Rose spends plenty of time outlining why she is not worthy and at some point the reader will agree with the narrator.
Then there was the fact that Rob was barely Rosaline's as claimed by the title. There was a bit of kissing but no official declaration of relationship status nor a serious discussion of their feelings. If Juliet likes Rob and wants to try for a relationship, Rose can protest but if she doesn't put up a fight, then she is just going to have to deal with the consequences of that.
Another problem was the family feud, the one that has been ongoing for generations in the original play but originates with the teens' parents in this version. Surely there could have been something more longstanding as a nod to the original? One other big change was a love interest for Rose; she goes from mocking a guy and finding him creepy to tentatively flirting and moving forward. If she hadn't been such a mean girl to him initially, I might have been more into the relationship. But she spent so much time talking about his weirdness, sometimes even to his face, that I didn't get what he saw in her.
Overall: A guilty fast read that did not endear me to an alternate hypothesis about R&J.
Cover: I'm not a fan of this cover with the close-up on the faces and the font over it. I think girl in a pretty dress would have worked well :)