Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Charming
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About the book:
Seventeen-year-old Ruby Fields has always lived by the rules set up by her foolishly overprotective mother. As a result, she doesn't go to school, she's never been kissed, and almost everything she knows about life is what she has learned from old movies.
But now...now there's this Joshua guy. He's quirky, and he's tall, and he uses “romantic” and “old-fashioned” in the same sentence.
And there's Mrs. Wheeler, an eccentric retired Hollywood costume designer and Ruby's new best friend.
When Mrs. Wheeler ends up in hospital, just after telling Ruby her long-kept secret, Ruby decides to break her mother's rules and embark on a journey that will change her life forever.
Okay seriously just go buy this book right now. It's so so good. Have you ever been charmed by a book? That's what Milena Veen has done here. I was hooked from this:
" . . . her long, skinny arms keeping her straw hat from falling off her hat. I was instantly attracted to her. I know it sounds silly; she was just an old lady in a Charleton dress . . . "Veen tricked me into thinking this book would start off with insta-love and the weather. And it did! Just, not the way that I would have guessed. And I think that summarizes the book quite well. It's not what you think and it's not really ever what you think it's going to be. After that point I was waiting for the twists and turns and I was not disappointed. Ruby and everyone around her are full of enough quirks to keep even the most ordinarily situations quite beautifully startling: there's Ruby and her movies, there's that neighbor who has old dresses belonging to movie stars (you know Ruby is going to love that!), the side of the overprotective mother that you sympathize with. Especially that last one. Usually an author will only hint at that side, fearing that it detracts from the story or the image that needs to be portrayed of that character. But holy hell Veen does an amazing job showing the exact pull and push relationship between a child and such a parent.
And that leads me to the characters. I love them. They're not two dimensional or unlikable. Ruby is relateable, a teenager with a powerful imagination being trapped and restricted. That's familiar. Joshua's Tourrette's making him socially impaired to a degree but, more importantly, not consuming the entirety of his character. Etc, etc, etc.
Leading off of that is the writing itself. It's charming, as I said, but it can also be a bit clunky. I wouldn't dwell too much on it because it is self published and hasn't gone through high-grade proofreading. Just be warned a couple of lines of dialogue will seem outlandish, but that's it for the most part. This issue is wholly drowned out by what I've written above and by the fact that the plot is quite brilliant. For a two hundred page novel, it doesn't waste any time in rushing along. As soon as I was getting into the story, it took off. There is a bit of suspense but don't count on it, the book seems to be written as an exploration rather than a pure adventure. Therefore, the social interactions that Ruby has post-runaway at once explore her growth as a sheltered child and further, explore parenting and how harmful it can be.
One of my favortie parts of this book is the overarching thread of humor. The stumbles and pains that adolescence brings, especially with someone as sheltered as Ruby, are spilled throughout the pages of this book, but each and everyone is industriously presented with humor. And that's difficult to do. Yet Veen just makes it seemless. I find it hard not to relate to a newer John Green novel.
And holy wit, by the end of the book, Ruby's mental development has blossomed enough to leave us with this gem:
"And then it came to me – a thought so clear that I was surprised I hadn't realized it before: freedom is not someplace outside you, hidden at the end of the winding road where magical things happen and where people all of a sudden become wise and fulfilled. You don't travel three thousand miles to find it. Freedom lies inside you. Like some delicate fruit . . . if you don't open your eyes . . . it will never get ripe."Just go. Now. Read. Purchase. Do it.
About the author:
Milena Veen was born in Belgrade, Serbia. Her first piece of writing, a poem about a walking cherry, saw the light of the day when she was seven. She's been writing ever since.
Milena graduated from University of Belgrade with a degree in psychology. She lives in a little European town with her husband and a mute cat. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading, riding her bicycle, and listening to music. She prefers clouds to sunshine and coffee to tea.
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