This coming of age story is full of big life decisions for Sydney as she navigates home and family responsibilities, relationships and school. The author did a great job of capturing that time in life where so many big things are happening and change is inevitable.
I enjoyed getting to know Sydney through present time and a series of flashbacks. Sydney is an easy character to like. I love the support and help she gave her mother in caring for her siblings and home responsibilities.
This is the kind of book that is easy to recommend to teenagers on up. There is no swearing or sexual content aside from some kissing. The characters make (mostly) good decisions and learn valuable life lessons along the way. It was cute and I enjoyed the journey!
Oh, and I love the cover and the colors involved. It's so cute!!
This was a thoughtful coming of age novel covering many of the challenges facing young adults as they prepare to leave the cocoon of safety they enjoyed in high school and go off to college. Told in the first person, Sydney Morris is one of five tight-knit friends who spent most of their high school years doing almost everything together. Sydney’s personal life is also complicated by her parents’ divorce. The story starts at the time of high school graduation, but includes flashbacks to relevant scenes in her past life.
At graduation, the five sense the changes that are coming in their lives even though they have the summer ahead of them to still enjoy each other’s company. Several of them work, Gavin is off to Yale, James will go to the local college and live at home due to finances, Sydney’s application to her first choice of colleges, Cal Art, is rejected, so she must settle for her second choice. All of them are facing the challenges of moving in different directions. Sydney and Gavin face the decision of whether or not to try to continue a long-distance relationship with him attending college back east and her being in Idaho with the hope of eventually transferring to California. Some relationships in the group solidify, some drift apart, not everything is as it appears on the surface. Then there are the complications of Sydney and her siblings dealing with their relationships with their father.
This story is a well-written, character and situation-driven story. I empathized with the difficulties and choices they faced as they solved their individual challenges. It held my interest, it captured my empathy, and I recommend it to readers from high school age and up.
I was given an advance reader’s copy of this book and chose to review it.
About a year ago, I read and absolutely loved a new novel by Rachel Ward, called Dear Jane. So, when she contacted me asking me to read her new novel, Right Next to Me, I jumped at the chance.
This new novel is told from the perspective of Sydney, a new high school graduate. She has a perfect boyfriend, named Gavin, a buddy who shares her love of hiking, James, her popular and fun best friend, Piper, and Piper's boyfriend, Sean. They are the best of friends, but life isn't as easy and uncomplicated anymore after graduating high school.
Sydney's family is also continuing to encounter many struggles - a father who left several years ago, and a mother who is struggling to make ends meet. Sydney has to figure out how to have a bright future while also helping her mother with her siblings and their home.
The book is full of decision-making, decisions which are heart-wrenching at times, and definitely confusing. Sydney is a character many of us can relate to. She is funny and quirky, with a devout love of The Princess Bride, talented in graphic design and baking, passionate about hiking and landscapes, and very unsure and worried about making the right choices.
I loved the way the story was told. It wasn't in chronological order. It jumped around to different months and years, offering more insight and memories to help us get inside the heads and hearts of the characters. It wasn't hard to follow at all, and was fun. I didn't love the italics in the memory chapters, but I imagine they were put there in case the reader didn't realize the chapter was in the past.
I could tell from the very beginning how the story would end. It was quite obvious which boy Sydney would end up with, but that didn't keep the story from being engaging and heartfelt.
The book is a very easy read, good for teenagers and above. It isn't as deep as Dear Jane, but that is okay considering the audience. I enjoyed the novel and loved the characters. I felt for them and related to them. I wanted them to be happy and for things to work out right. Check it out!
This is exactly the type of novel that makes me love the Young Adult category so much! I love the cute cover and that the drawing is repeated throughout the book to start with. I felt like it really helped draw me into the book to begin with.
I love the characters, Sydney, Gavin, James, Piper and Sean. They've been friends throughout high school, even though Sydney and Gavin are paired off as are Piper and Sean. I loved seeing the way the friendships worked with all 5 of them. They really were the best of friends and there for each other through every hardship they each faced. I loved the way there were flashbacks throughout the story to certain times and situations, there was even a month and year so you could see where it fit in relation to the story. So great!
Sydney was such a fun character, I loved "seeing" things through her eyes. She had not had an easy time, her life situation was far from perfect. But she was positive and worked so hard to get what she wanted. I really loved her. I really loved that you see the whole thing from her perspective, so you don't know what any of the guys are thinking and feeling. With this book that really worked. Oh, and I loved the references to The Princess Bride, Sydney's favorite movie, there are some really fun ones in here!
This is an awesome young adult novel! I can't wait to read more books of this author's books!
I think almost everyone has had at least one experience where everyone else can see the obvious, but you are blinded to the truth, for whatever reason. Through a series of flashbacks, mingled with the present time, the story of Sydney's life unfolds. She's had to grow up and mature before her time due to some unfortunate circumstances, and the reader is fed bits and pieces at a time, but that doesn't stop her from becoming very close to her group of friends and securing herself the perfect boyfriend. Back to my first sentence--it's very plain to see that her best friend has feelings for her, but she has absolutely no clue.
This is a great coming-of-age story that really shows the nitty gritty good and bad times of transitioning from a high school student to an adult and college student. The flashbacks also show a pivotal growth time in Sydney's life and how she starts to become who she's truly meant to be.
I couldn't stop reading because I really wanted to see how the characters would handle the situations they each found themselves in and I loved the tight friendships these five characters had with one another. I enjoyed the flashbacks and thought they really added to the story, as they each had a shovelful of information to fill in some of the backstory. There are some hard situations to tackle and there's no skimping on the emotion. Oh, and there are some really cringy moments that left me wanting to hide my face in embarrassment.
I found myself really getting into the flow of the story at times and then suddenly felt that some details were skimmed over or skipped all together, leaving me wanting more. Chunks of time were missing, but I guess that's because I couldn't have every minute detail of Sydney's life or the book would be 1000 pages.
Overall, this is a fun and wholesomely entertaining story and one that I'm glad I read.
Content: mild romance
*I received a copy from the publisher, which did not affect my opinion in any way. All thoughts are my own.*
Right Next to Me was a pleasure to read! It alternated between two times of transition in Sydney's life, and the comparison was intriguing. In her early high school days she struggles through her parents' divorce and takes on more responsibility in her family, which influences her later priorities when she graduates high school and begins college. The sweet beginnings of her relationship with Gavin show how hard it is to let go when they take separate paths. I loved her friendship with James and it's pretty much obvious to everyone except Sydney how they belong together. The author was skillful in showing (instead of telling) the supportive nature of their relationship and how much they enjoyed each other's company. It was easy to connect to the characters' emotions and the angst they are feeling as their relationship dynamic becomes more complex. A great young adult novel about growing up, navigating difficult circumstances, and the importance of friendship and forgiveness.
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)