Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 3, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
An Appalachian summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating in this debut novel about first loves, broken hearts, and moonshine.Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason–but is it a love letter, an apology, or a good-bye?
When I received an email from NetGalley describing My Best Everything as a debut novel for fans of Rainbow Rowell, I knew I wanted to pick it up. The plot summary really intrigued me – how could a girl who worked so hard to stay on the straight and narrow suddenly put her morals aside and begin an illegal business selling moonshine? I had to know how this story panned out.
The writing style of My Best Everything is quite unique. Our main character Lulu is writing a letter to Mason, the love interest in the story. Thus, readers are placed into the role of Mason, and whenever Lulu speaks to “you” she is speaking to Mason. This style was a little difficult to get into, since I’m not used to playing the role of a teenage boy, but once I settled into it I really liked the flow and rhythm of the writing. In addition, this format added a lot of mystery to the story, because I had no idea why Lulu was writing to Mason, and had to keep reading to find out.
Moreover, I really enjoyed the characters in My Best Everything. Each character has a well-developed story, even if he or she is not in the spotlight. For instance, Lulu’s best friend Roni faces some difficult challenges, and grows substantially throughout the novel. I really liked this attention to detail, and I thought the smaller plotlines added a lot of depth to the book.
There are, however, some things I did not like about My Best Everything. First, the pacing in the novel was off for me. The first 75% of the story moved very slowly. I was never bored, but I did stop and think to myself, “Wow, nothing has really happened yet!” at several points in my reading. The last quarter of the book is definitely rushed, and I would have preferred a more balanced pace. A lot of information was dumped on the reader right at the end, and while I did like the ending, the information dump did take away some credibility for me.
Similarly, I did not like the lack of consequences for Lulu in this story. I will be vague in this criticism as to not spoil the book, but Lulu is constantly breaking the law and finding herself in dangerous situations, yet for some reason she gets away with it. Her parents do a terrible job of supporting her, and even the other adults in her life, like her boss and local priest, do not keep tabs on Lulu or provide guidance for her. The lack of consequences for Lulu’s actions was really aggravating for me, and definitely took away some of the believability in the story.
All in all, I gave My Best Everything a four star rating because I thought the writing was very well done and overall enjoyed the story. While there are a few aspects with the story that I wish were different, My Best Everything is still a great young adult contemporary, and a solid debut novel for author Sarah Tomp. I look forward to seeing what she comes out with in the future, as I know her strong writing skills will lead to even better books.