This is a cute YA contemporary romance, set in California. This is my second Jenn Bennett book (the first being Alex, Approximately) and I enjoyed it. I received it in an Uppercase subscription box (April 2018). I gave this a four star rating.
Title: Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Page Number: 417
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, part of Simon and Schuster
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged back-country, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?
Two main characters are Lennon Mackenzie, a goth who loves snakes and camping, and his former BFF/crush Zorie Everhart, a budding astronomer and massive planner.
Zorie lives with her father and stepmother, who have practices in massage and acupuncture. Lennon lives nearby with his two moms, who own a sex toy shop (which is next to the family practice). This new shop (and some run-ins between the parents) have made a once strong friend bond fragile. Lennon and Zorie also used to meet up and had started dating.
Zorie is sent by her mom to the shop because some mail had been mis-delivered and accidentally opens a package sent to her mother. This causes a catalyst for Zorie as the package contains some life-altering information about her parents’ marriage.
Zorie gets invited to go “glamping” with her friend Reagan. She later discovers that her one time/long time crush Brett is going as well. After some shenanigans at the glamping ground, the group are kicked out. Instead of returning home, they decide to camp up by the waterfalls for pictures and swimming. Lennon is the only person with any experience in this area and he and Brett eventually fall out over Brett’s failure to follow the rules. During this argument between the entire group, several people end up revealing relationships and broken relationships.
The next morning Zorie wakes up to discover everyone but Lennon is gone. They have been stranded without a car, devastating Zorie’s plans of meeting up with the astronomy club to see a meteor shower. Lennon is much calmer, he’s an experienced hiker who is somewhat familiar with the lay of the land and the rules. He offers to take her on a longer hike so that she can go to the astronomy meet up.
The rest of the book details the multi-day hike, Zorie and Lennon’s reconciliation as friends and as lovers, and Zorie dealing with her family’s secret.
The setting is beautiful and there are plenty of adventures as Zorie and Lennon continue to camp and hike towards her astronomy club.
I think Bennett is a fantastic storyteller. She deals with more mature themes and doesn’t shy away (in this book: adultery, broken friendships, sexual situations) which does rate the book between YA/NA to me although both characters are still in high school/teenagers. Lighter and funnier moments are interspaced out in between so even the sad parts can’t keep you down.
Some characters are irredeemable; friendships or family relationships dissipate. It’s intriguing how Zorie and her mom tip-toe and ignore her father’s issues (with bigotry et al) but they never make a stand in the book. Perhaps this was on purpose to foil against Lennon’s two moms. I’m not exactly sure but I feel that this was one weak point to note.
The conversations in the book are realistic, the prose is clear, and I didn’t see any grammatical mistakes. The book stayed with me after I put it down, which usually means that I liked it even more than I had originally thought. I appreciate that Bennett goes for the more mature problems that kids can face (death, break ups of families, violence, friendship betrayals). Bennett is a solid writer and storyteller so there are no glaring plot holes are odd exchanges (there are dramatic interactions though).