No matter how much older I get or how much more I seem to need to “adult,” YA always has my heart. The characters are well developed, the world-building is usually very well done, and young people tend to emote and feel things in a way that adults just aren’t allowed to do (or feel like they can’t), because everything seems like a really big deal when you’re young—and some of the time, it is. When I pick up a young adult novel, I know I’m going to feel something—be it a really high high or a really low low—and that’s something I don’t see as much of in stories written for not-as-young people. And here, with Where It All Lands by Jennie Wexler, we get to feel all these things…twice.
Stevie Rosenstein has never made a true friend. Never fallen in love. Moved from city to city by her father’s unrelenting job, it’s too hard to care for someone. Trust in anything. The pain of leaving always hurts too much. But she’ll soon learn to trust, to love.
Drew and Shane have been best friends through everything. The painful death of Shane’s dad. The bitter separation of Drew’s parents. Through sleepaway camps and family heartache, basketball games and immeasurable loss, they’ve always been there for each other.
When Stevie meets Drew and Shane, life should go on as normal.
But a simple coin toss alters the course of their year in profound and unexpected ways.
Told in dual timelines, debut author Jennie Wexler delivers a heartbreaking and hopeful novel about missed opportunities, second chances, and all the paths that lead us to where we are.
I was not expecting to like this book this much. Dual timelines can sometimes be tricky to pull off (though I do really like the trope a lot), and Wexler did a very, very good job here. I liked that you got the one side of the story—to a point, then another side of the story—to the same point, and then a conclusion about each that played out differently. While I’ll admit that the final part with alternating chapters was not my favourite way to end this beautiful story, I’m not sure how else she could have done it.
The characters are all people that I could have easily gone to high school with: the new girl who moves around a lot and doesn’t make friends easily because her guard is up, the popular kid who isn’t uber-popular but has a broken home that gives him another dimension, and the music nerd who lives and breathes it to a point where some people can’t relate to him. Though I could have done without the father-child relationship issues for all three characters (there was… a lot of it), the story seemed believable, which I always appreciate with YA—sometimes I feel like parents aren’t parenting and let their teens get away with a lot.
It’s interesting because you fall in love with Drew and Stevie, then you fall in love with Shane and Stevie, and then you’re left a blubbering mess by the end of it. It didn’t go how I thought it would in the slightest, but it was so worth it. If you’re a music-lover, too, you’ll get a kick out of Shane. Definitely recommend.
“Do our choices even matter? We all walk around thnking we have this control over our lives. But in the end, we’re all just bouncing around like some pinball in a machine, landing wherever gravity, and whatever other forces you want to believe in, take us.” —Jennie Wexler, Where It All Lands
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for the advanced copy, and to Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash for the featured photo.