Original Rating: 4 stars
Current Rating: ??? (either 4 or 5. The thing is, I can't even decide if I liked it more, less, or the same as the first book, which I rated 5 stars back then and also cannot decide on a current rating for)
I didn't remember anything from this book. I mean, not anything. Not the tiniest scrap. Not even in the "I forgot but then as soon as I reread it it was familiar" -- NOPE. I could have passed a polygraph swearing this was my first time reading it, if I didn't know that was a lie based on my reading lists.
Perhaps because of that, this book was such a JOY to read. I had to force myself to slow down and take care with some of the passages, because I really liked how it was written even though my greedy heart wanted to speed-read through to internalize the story ASAP. I'm so glad I'm reading it in summer. It just feels so much better. I can't believe I originally read the first 3 in January & November, respectively.
I spent much of it holding my breath, wondering what I was going to find that had caused me to drop it from 5 stars to 4 originally. I'm still not entirely sure, but I suspect it might be The Thing With Kostos. Even without liking him, that is a cruddy storyline. I also wonder, IS THIS WHERE MY HATRED OF[spoiler alert]SURPRISE WOODWORK BABIES
I loved the focus on the OG moms at the end. I also thought it interesting that this book illuminated that not one but two of the girls have followed in their mother's footsteps, romance-wise. I mean, I secretly love it, but this is some real Gilmore Girls level stuff.
I didn't love her storyline in this one -- jealousy about her mom dating while her own love life consists of a few super-awkward dates with a boy she doesn't really seem to like -- but to be fair, her mom does turn into a self-absorbed airhead overnight and I think most of Carmen's anger (if not her behavior) is perfectly justified. The rage, I felt it. Once again, Carmen also did basically what I would have done in this scenario at every turn.
I enjoyed the film course setting, but I was bored with her "new friends" the second the boy said his film was gonna be "pure nihilism" like that was a good thing. Unfortunately for me, I am also pretty bored with Brian, whom I can't help thinking of as a greasy-haired 14-year-old. The guy the movie cast isn't hot enough to outweigh my text impression of him, and not even my valiant attempts to cast him as Adam from Joan of Arcadia are working. Though I do love a guy who sneaks into your singleton dorm room to stay over with you with full expectations of camping out on the floor alone, and does exactly that.
Also, I loved the description of the RA's hand-stiched animals/toys, and I want VERY much to see an Etsy shop equivalent.
I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS BOOK MADE ME FALL IN LOVE WITH HER AND KOSTOS*. I still don't understand why the author had them break up over the school year, and Lena's melodramatic moping and annoying tendency to jump to conclusions gets a little old, but good lord, he's so patient and upstanding and swoonworthy once he shows back up in town. And when you can get me to swoon even if it involves topless making out, you done good.
On a non-Kostos-related note, I really enjoyed Lena's summer job in the old-ladies-clothing-store equivalent of Dillard's (or if we're being more exciting: Chico's)
[meet me behind the spoiler cut!]"BRIDE"???????
WHAT THE HELL.
This is the kind of thing you'd think I would remember, but I clearly blocked these traumatic facts from memory because my jaw hit the friggin' floor at both announcements. What the hell!!! I mean, weirdly I am still very impressed with Kostos' mature responses but my heart is BROKEN.
Also, I thought (am still pretty sure) that Lena-and-Kostos remain a torturously dragged-out thing through all 4 books and possibly the adult novel, so how exactly are we going to unring these bells? Miscarriage? And/or new bride leaves him? Lena just goes FULL Gilmore with him?? I don't actually know which one of these I want to happen, tbh. My shipper flag is still flying and I have no time for stranger bitch Paul.
Which is sort of ironic given that I was so bored with Carmen's "date" I had one foot off the page and ready to not even be joking when I declared that I was about to ship Carmen w/ Paul.
P.S. I AM ALSO VERY UPSET ABOUT BAPI. DAMN, ANN.
P.P.S. Stil reeling about Eugene, her mom's long-term all-consuming first love also from Greece who also broke her heart by leaving her for another girl. I mean, in much more deliberate and trash-heap ways. But still.
As much as I loved Lena this time around, though, Bee once again takes the cake for my favorite storyline. The beginning gutted me, the thought of Bridget losing her luster, so screwed up over her one night stand debacle that she changes her hair, trades in soccer and running for tasty sugar carbs, and heads straight into a wall of depression that apparently her father did not see, which is the saddest thing because DID YOU NOT PAY ATTENTION TO HOW BIPOLAR IS HEREDITARY, OR??
So I'm glad she confronts him and then just goes to Alabama. I love the description of her renting a room in a boardinghouse (where in the United States can you still rent a room in an actual Victorian-mansion boarding house?? I wouldn't have thought you could still do that even in 2003), with "no phone in the room, but a payphone in the hall."
Her grandmother is such an incredible person. I loved the descriptions of her attic cleanout, the cozy little attic apartment she ended up making, and I loved their lunchtime chats. I still don't understand why her father refused them contact with her, unless it's because he's afraid of his kids finding out the truth that if it hadn't been for his own stubborn-ass stupidity, maybe their mother would have gotten treatment for her mental health issues and not, you know, killed herself. Also I am now extremely worried that Grandma is gonna die by the end of book 4, and as much as I love the idea of Bee inheriting the cute lil' Alabama house, I would like that to not happen for at least another 6-10 years.
I also really enjoyed Bee's soccer coaching and her friendship with the guys. That was fun. I made it all the way to the end without shipping her and any of them, and let's just take a minute to talk about how nuts it is that I am not only not advocating friends-to-lovers in this scenario, I'm carrying a torch for a ship that is based 99% on physical attraction.
I also kind of love that despite being magic and fitting Carmen, the pants refuse to fit Bridget when she gains 15 pounds "because she got all sad after hooking up with a guy too old for her," as I put it to my mom, in a somewhat mean-spirited way. You aren't allowed to THINK you're fat while in the pants, but you apparently also aren't allowed to actually be fat. I'm sure the critical body-positive fans had a field day with this. Still, I like a dose of realism alongside "they refuse to fit because you are not being True to yourself and that dishonors the Pants."
Speaking of pants, also love the ridiculousness of Bee going "not even I'M crazy enough to put them on without a shower after running 10 miles in the Alabama heat!" because of the no-washing rule, only to PLAY A GAME OF SOCCER IN THEM about 5 pages later. That's not that different, Bridget! WASH THE PANTS.
[minor spoiler]P.S. I am still ALSO REELING from the reveal that Bridget's mom married her college professor, a.k.a. Bridget's dad. Whaaaaat! (also I LOVE IT, even if that ends in tragedy. Ann write me the story of the OG Septembers challenge, take 2)
Up next: I was so excited I almost bounded straight into book 3, but I felt the need to gather my thoughts here first. And then I realized I needed to pick up Becoming Rain from ILL (btw, super sucks when you have to be in the middle of two series at once). So now I'm taking a short breather. But I am SO PUMPED to continue nevertheless. I'm also excited that the third book I own is in brilliant, pristine hardcover -- an early edition too, because it's got a "win tickets to the movie premiere!" page in the back -- and now I do, in fact, really want them all in hardcover. This was one series I thought I could save space on by getting paperbacks eventually, but nah. I love them too much.
However, while nothing in the summary sets off my actual suspicion radar except maybe how boring some of their love interests sound, now I'm REALLY nervous about what made me give book 3 only three stars -- I assume at least one more girl loses her virginity, now that they've graduated high school at the tender baby age of 17 -- and what I meant by "depressing change."