Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames

How My Summer Went Up in FlamesJennifer Salvato Doktorski, How My Summer Went Up in Flames

It’s the first day of summer, but Rosie Catalano is feeling anything but excited. Her boyfriend Joey, whom she had thought was the one, recently dumped her. In retaliation, Rosie had the not-so-bright idea of burning his stuff in his driveway, which resulted in an accidental car fire — and a restraining order against her! Now Rosie is dealing with humiliation as well as heartbreak, and her parents are more than a little bit concerned. But Rosie’s next door neighbor and best friend Matty has a solution: he and his two friends, Spencer and Logan, are driving from New Jersey to Arizona, where Logan will be attending college. He invites Rosie to come along, and her parents, worried about the consequences of her remaining in town, encourage her to go. Rosie is very reluctant about the trip at first, and her quick temper results in some very uncomfortable moments, especially with the standoffish Logan. But as she and the guys travel west, stopping at various landmarks around the way, Rosie reflects on the choices she’s made in the past and learns a little bit about herself. She may even find herself getting over Joey and falling for someone new.

This book was a gift, and while I probably wouldn’t have picked it up myself, I love a good road trip story! Overall, though, this book didn’t quite meet my expectations. First of all, it’s much more a coming-of-age story than a romance. While Rosie does eventually end up with one of the guys from the road trip, it’s very unclear whom she’ll choose for most of the book. On the plus side, this means the love story wasn’t predictable; on the minus side, I had absolutely no investment in the outcome of the relationship because I didn’t know whom I was supposed to be rooting for! I also wasn’t a huge fan of Rosie as a character. She makes a lot of bad decisions in this book, especially towards the beginning, and she never really stops to think about the consequences of her actions. Maybe I’m judging her unfairly because I can’t relate to her at all, but I found her antics more annoying than adorable. And finally, I was somewhat disappointed in the road trip aspect of the story. I can’t even remember the places they visited, except they might have gone to Graceland and/or Dollywood. Overall, the book’s not a bad read, but it just didn’t do anything for me.

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