The perfect book to kick off summer! For as long as Rachel Brooks can remember, she’s had capital-G Goals: straight As, academic scholarship, college of her dreams. And it’s all paid off–after years of following the rules and acing every exam, Rachel is graduating at the top of her class and ready to celebrate by . . . doing absolutely nothing. Because Rachel Brooks has spent most of high school saying no. No to dances, no to parties, and most especially, no to boys.
Now, for the first time in her life, there’s nothing stopping Rachel from having a little fun–nothing, that is, except herself. So when she stumbles on a beat up old self-help book–A SEASON OF YES!–a crazy idea pops into her head: What if she just said yes to . . . everything?
And so begins a summer of yes. Yes to new experiences and big mistakes, yes to rekindled friendships and unexpected romances, yes to seeing the world in a whole new way. This book is a fresh and fun take on the coming-of-age novel that explores the quintessential themes of growing up: taking risks, making mistakes, and, of course, love. And who knows? Lindsey Roth Culli’s hilarious and heartwarming debut may just inspire your own SAY YES SUMMER.
I have a soft spot for post-high school books right now, for reasons that are probably obvious if you have read any of my past reviews. Maybe it’s preemptive nostalgia for a time that, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I will probably never experience. Whatever the cause, though, I’m currently rather enamored of books set in the pre-college summer. This one caught my eye for a few reasons.
As an overachiever in high school, I completely empathized with Rachel’s “really? Is this it?” feelings upon graduating and realizing how much she missed out on. No, I never wanted to get wasted with people I would never speak to again, and I still don’t (shudder), not to mention my dating prospects were nonexistent – but I still felt myself wondering what it would be like to have had a high school experience that stood out. So as dumb and impulsive as it admittedly was, Rachel’s idea of spending the summer saying yes to every available opportunity is something I’m probably just desperate enough to try. Reading about Rachel’s new experiences and relationships felt like living an alternate reality of my own life (other than the hot boy suddenly deciding that he liked me…never in a million years) because Rachel’s coming from the same place that I would be. That made them fun to read about. And the tone of the story is so unabashedly optimistic and upbeat that you can’t help but have fun following Rachel’s new adventures in yes-saying.
So, was this a perfect book? Of course not. A lot of the characters weren’t all that well-developed, most of Rachel’s decisions were kind of insane, and the strange love triangle dynamic definitely rubbed me the wrong way. But the writing was great, and ultimately, reading about someone else’s life-altering post-senior summer was exactly the escape I needed from a senior summer that’s shaping up to consist mostly of me sitting on my bed reading books.
Best Scene: Clayton and Rachel’s Canada date made me want to hop in my car and make for the Mexican border (which…is 20 minutes away from me so that’s not saying much) ASAP.
What Stood Out: reading this felt like drinking a strawberry milkshake: it’s what you drink when you can’t handle anything else because it’s easy to get down, undeniably delicious, and makes you happy.
What Bugged Me: Rachel’s decision to resolve a love triangle by dating both guys behind each other’s backs came off as all kinds of deranged.
Content: scattered cursing and a few innuendos, but mostly clean.
Rating: 4/5 Golden Grasshoppers