Series: Confessions #2
Published by Harlequin Teen, Mira Ink on June 25th, 2013
Rose Zarelli has big plans for sophomore year—everything is going to be different. This year, she’s going to be the talented singer with the killer voice, the fabulous girl with the fashionista best friend, the brainiac who refuses to let Jamie Forta jerk her around...
...but if she’s not careful, she’s also going to be the sister who misses the signals, the daughter who can only think about her own pain, the “good girl” who finds herself in mid-scandal again (because no good deed goes unpunished) and possibly worst of all...the almost-girlfriend.
When all else fails, stop looking for love and go find yourself.
Is it wrong that a sixteen year old girl is my hero? If it is then I don’t want to be right! Rose is back and more awesome than ever! She’s got an upgrade, Rose 2.0 and she’s determined that this year will be different…yeah that’s going to go soooo well!
I adored Confessions of an Angry Girl (Read my rave review here) and was so excited to catch up with my fave hormonal teen. When we last met Rose she had just clawed her way through a pretty tough year. Grieving the loss of her father in Iraq, then having to start the eternal torture that is high school, dealing with her friends turning into social pod people and a family that’s desperately trying to patch the bullet wound of pain and failing – Life was rough. Finally on a somewhat even level, she just got her best friend back from under the spell of mean girl Regina and things were finally starting to make sense with JAMIE FORTA!!! (Sorry I cannot write his name without me representing my excited squeal) when Regina stuck her oar in and it all went to hell again.
At the start of COAAG2, Rose has spent the summer wondering whether Jamie has dropped off the planet after his mysterious note saying he wasn’t good enough for her but being the awesome chick she is – she’s not going to let it get to her. She’s a sophomore now and ready to take on the world. That lasts for about five mins until her innate ability to interfere (read: be cool, mature and responsible) means she ends up in the pool “saving” nemesis Regina’s younger brother Conrad from a vicious Swim Team hazing and being yanked out by JAMIE FORTA!!!(#sorrynotsorry) – It’s looking like Rose’s second year at high school is about to be as tumultuous as the last!
One thing I adore about Rozett’s writing is how “real” her characters and situations are. Again she has nailed the teenage voice and experience beautifully. While there is definite growth by the characters in particular Rose, at all times we get that undercurrent of uncertainty and fear prevalent yet skilfully hidden beneath the surface the way only teenagers seem to know how.
Emotion is heightened in this book – they say that the second year of grieving is always the hardest as hope fades and the reality comes crashing in and this is so true in the Zarelli household. While Rose and her mom who spent freshman year at odds with each other are slowly making headway, Peter – the man of the house is flailing and succumbing to the darker temptations in an attempt to ease his pain.
The youthful naivety of Rose really comes into play here as she struggles to understand how those who should be wiser and more capable of dealing with grief appear to be failing at it while she cannot reconcile why her attempts at healing aren’t always met with enthusiasm. Her tribute site to her father provided an outlet that was both positive and negative to her recovery progress however the pain she inadvertently causes her mother when she prefers to reach out to the mom of one of her dad’s friends sticks a spanner firmly in the works and throughout the book Rose and her mom are like the ebb and flow of the tide, constantly pulling in different directions, occasionally maintaining a harmonious rhythm only for the delicate balance to be upset by outside forces. In particular new characters – Robert’s new girlfriend Holly and her dad both provide simultaneous support to Rose and her mom and the debilitating panic when people appear to be moving on quicker than Rose again cripples her causing her to rail against those who love her. At times the pain and strife is so piercing that it hurts to read the words but Rozett has a beautiful way of reassuring her readers that all will be well.
The themes of this book are definitely darker. In addition to grief, Rose comes into contact with bullying yet again, along with homophobia and abuse. While she and Regina may never be friends there was a definite understanding however unwilling both are to acknowledge it publicly and it was interesting to see that dynamic shift and I’m aching to see what happens next in Rose’s junior year.
A person’s sophomore year is the one where things appear to have settled. The dramatic shift to a more adult setting while still being the smallest fish in a big pond eases and this is the year when individuality and identity are shaped as one is more comfortable to take risks whilst still somewhat invisible. Rose is compelled by her friends settling into their own grooves to seek out her own place in the world and we see glimpses of the woman we know she will become in between the agony and ecstasy of teen life.
Which brings us to JAMIE FORTA!!! Seriously what is it about this boy? Frustrating, kind, ambiguous, handsome, idiotic, wonderful…SWOON. Rose and Jamie are just as confusing in this book and it was both my favourite and least liked aspect of this book. Jamie is wonderful yet at times I wanted to shake him as his tendency to draw Rose in and then push her away was frustrating as hell. By the end of the book my nerves were on tenterhooks and all I can say is he *better* pull it out of the bag and woo the heck out of my little super hero because he has got some ‘splaining to do!
Never one to shy away from the issues, Rozett has once again delivered a story packed with emotion, action, sass and love and reminds you of that utter jumble of emotions and crap that happens when you are a teen and despite what people tell you…never.goes.away.