Thursday, June 28, 2012

When You Were Mine

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
2.5/5 stars
Simon Pulse, 2012
334 pages
YA Contemporary

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 :)


  1. I wasn't quite sure if I'd like this one either so I'm glad I read your review first. It sounds like Rosaline should have fought for Rob if she wanted to be with him so badly. I was under the impression that the Juliet character was kind of destructive based on the book description of her as "vindictive and crazy". I think I'd prefer Stacey Jay's version where Romeo is the bad guy :)

    1. I think Juliet definitely has her unstable moments; still I liked her more than Rose's passiveness.

  2. I love Lady Antebellum -- she's one of the few artists that I know every song by and have on my playlist! And I've wanted to read this book for the longest time but keep being unsure because of all the mixed reviews. But I think I might have to pick it up because I'm so curious that you actually kind of liked Juliet -- I was so certain that I was going to hate her, but it sounds like she's probably the most interesting character! :)

    Thanks so much for the awesome honest review, B! I think the pretty girl in a pretty dress thing would've worked perfectly too ;) <3

  3. Any book that makes me want to rush through it isn't one I can recommend either. Think I will have to pass on this one! Thanks for the honest review.
    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  4. Hmmm... I'm not sure this is one I would enjoy. The characters sound like ones I really couldn't stand behind. Thanks for the review and heads up on this one!


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