Saturday, June 3, 2017

REVIEW: WHENEVER I'M WITH YOU BY LYDIA SHARP.

Title: Whenever I'm with You
Author: Lydia Sharp
Series: Standalone
Edition: Paperback
Publication: January 3rd 2017 by Scholastic Press
Source: ARC provided by the publisher
Pages: 304
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:
A missing boy.
A road trip into the Alaskan wilderness.
A week that will change everything...

After Gabi’s parents’ divorce, she moves from California to Alaska with her dad. At first, it feels like banishment—until she meets Kai. He welcomes her into his life, sharing his family, his friends, and his warmth. But as winter approaches, Kai pulls away for seemingly no reason at all. He's quiet, withdrawn. Then one day, he disappears.

Kai’s twin brother, Hunter, believes Kai is retracing their missing father’s steps in the wilderness north of Anchorage. There’s a blizzard on the way, and Kai is alone out there. Gabi's frustration over his emotional distance quickly turns to serious concern. This is the boy who saved her from the dark. She can't lose him to it.

So Gabi and Hunter agree to head out together on a wild journey north—a trip that will challenge them physically and emotionally, as they try to convince the boy they love to return home.

PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE:

When I first saw Whenever I'm With You's cover, it screamed fluffy contemporary romance to me. (I wasn't familiar with this title until Scholastic sent the galley! Thank you!) I was expecting a friends-turned-lovers-on-a-roadtrip trope in here because the cover felt like a dead giveaway.

Guess what.

I was kinda right.

But also wrong.

Whenever I'm With You is a heavy type of story that revolves around twin's relationship told from a female love interest's point of view. Gabi is the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress and a well-sought lawyer in SoCal. She and her dad moved to Alaska to get away from her cheating mother and get over the divorce. She feels she didn't belong there. Her glamorous life in SoCal suddenly becomes a "normal" one because they need to lay low. The only thing that makes her sane in Alaska is her boyfried slash neighbor, Kai. When Kai sets off to find his dad without saying a proper goodbye to Gabi, she's worked up about it and seeks Kai's twin brother's help in going after him. Only to learn the truth about what Kai has been keeping from her and his real reason from leaving.

I don't want to really talk much about Gabi in this story or else I would not probably stop ranting. She's a rich kid alright and I totally get why she's angsty and bratty. She grew up with well-off parents so she's not accustomed to so many things that are normal for regular people. There was just this part where she had too use a squat toilet and she said she became an animal in Alaska. Like, girl. Calm yourself and be respectful because that's the least you could do. Off all the annoying things she's said and done, that's what really made me angry. Just because you're rich doesn't give you the right to say awful things like that. Her character eventually starts to mature (she's proud she's finally doing the dishes, I'll give her that) and I think if she's given some more time, her character would develop but I just couldn't erase her hurtful comment in my head.

But to me, the story wasn't really about Gabi's life problems but the twins'. To tell you honestly, eighty percent of the story is about Kai and Hunter. It just so happen that Gabi was narrating it. I couldn't remember the best sibling story I've read but this book would have been waaaaay better if romance wasn't the key factor in getting this book to sell. Kai and Hunter's bromance was one of those stories that leaves a mark. The feels would just keep tugging your feels. It was honestly surreal that I wanna hug my sibs right now. Their love for each other led them to make choices, choices they thought would benefit the other. But the choices also led them to lose so much time. They could have talked but they spared each other pain. This story is about them figuring out what happened to their dad, how much they shut each other out, how they messed up by keeping to thmeselves. In short, Whenever I'm with You is Kai and Hunter's relationship as brothers told by Gabi. Such a bunpy reading experience this one.

Then there's the Tlingit rep that according to an Alaska Native reader Debbie, wasn't represented correctly which is offensive. Here's the review - click me. In my opinion, the narrator sees everything from an outsider's POV. I believe that she learned to love Alaska and everything about it at the latter part.

Whenever I'm With You is likeable. But it would have been an unforgettable one if the execution isn't that of a let down. Giving it three stars for the attempt to show different sides of relationships which I appreciated and for the potential of the characters to see more of the world than just themselves.

Thank you, Scholastic Asia (Philippines) for the galley!

"Remember how it takes your breath away- remember that this is how I felt the first time I saw you, and how I've felt every day since then, whenever I'm with you. This is my version of heaven."

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