Monday, April 30, 2018

If There's No Tomorrow - Review

If There's No Tomorrow

By: Jennifer L Armentrout

Expected Publication: September 5th 2017 by Harlequin Teen

480 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Borrowed from the e-library

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Goodreads description--Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances.

Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.

Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.

For what she let happen.

With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed?

I haven't read a JLA book in quite some time. I went through a period where I devoured several of her books in a row and I think I burned myself out. Anyway, when I saw the description for If There's No Tomorrow I was intrigued. I added it to my TBR list and then forgot about it. Time passed and I needed a contemporary read that I could blow through quickly and I saw this available with the elibrary so I checked it out without even re-reading the description. I'm glad that I did because I enjoy going into a book with as little information as possible from time to time.

And really that book description listed above just doesn't give much information at all. So I'm unsure exactly how much I should say concerning what happened in If There's No Tomorrow. One thing the book description does mention is that Lena's been in love with her best friend Sebastian for a long time. There were things I didn't like about the way Jennifer L Armentrout wrote their friendship and Lena's perception of it in the beginning. I've read a lot of best friends turned more books recently and so I found this section to be predictable when it comes to Lena and her feelings. What surprised me the most was Sebastian's reactions when Lena finally starts making some actions in regard to her feelings. How this was dealt with ultimately didn't surprise me though. I very much enjoyed the value that these two put upon their friendship and even when going through some very difficult trials they continued to be there for each other and friends first beyond anything else. Sometimes I find this feels forced in other stories once I know at least once character feels more for the other beyond friendship but for me it felt genuine in If There's No Tomorrow.

In trying to keep things vague and not spoil anything not mentioned in the description, I won't say what actually happened in If There's No Tomorrow. But I will touch on that the title and description seem to indicate or imply something to do with death. Dealing with death is always difficult. Especially if it comes suddenly without time to prepare for it--not that you can ever be fully prepared for it. And so it should be no surprise that Lena and her friends and family do have to indeed deal with death and figure out how to move forward. Considering the subject matter, I would have expected to cry a little or at least a teary eye. Granted, I am not the easiest person to make cry even though motherhood has softened me some. I realize that survivors guilt is a real thing--otherwise there wouldn't be so many stories about it--but Lena's struggle with guilt wasn't exactly fun to read because I was able to see where I felt like her head should be. Yet in real life getting to the right head space isn't easy. It isn't automatic. And being told how to think and feel doesn't change how and what you actually think and feel in the moment. Lena's story isn't intended to be an easy read. It isn't intended to be blown over or to be focused on the romance.

I appreciated that Jennifer L Armentrout didn't shy away from making some important statements. The characters in the book didn't blow over Lena's mistakes just to make her feel better. They were real with her while delivering a cautionary tale. I only wish more people would take to heart a story like this and realize that they could very well be the character their reading about. Yet we truly only tend to realize that bad things can and will happen to us when bad things have happened to us. I wish this wasn't so.

In the end, I enjoyed If There's No Tomorrow. I had a few small complaints. One with the predictability of things between Lena and Sebastian--specifically in the early parts of the book. Also, Sebastian says early in the book: "Don't think you should ever have to 'put in work' in a relationship. ...I think it should come naturally" And this is the biggest lie I pray that young adults reading this book don't believe. All relationships take work. Friendships. Family. And especially marriages. Unfortunately they're not all easy peasy come naturally. Because our nature is selfish and it takes a constant denying of ourselves to constantly do what is best for our loved ones--friends, kids, spouses. And I think you would see that work throughout the rest of this book. Yet this statement was never touched upon again. I really wish Jennifer L Armentrout would have followed up on this statement with Sebastian realizing how wrong he was to think this way. The BEST relationships take an enormous amount of work. And lastly with the pet peeves had to do with the references to Sarah J Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses series. While neither the series nor author was specifically mentioned, I just found this to be a little annoying. I mean I guess it was kind of a nice thing that JLA was doing in giving mention to another author and series that she obviously enjoys herself. But I prefer my references to be a bit more subtle than that. Hint at them without directly calling them out. I don't really like name dropping in books. That being said, these grievances are really truly minor.

All in all, If There's No Tomorrow deserves 4 Stars. It was a well thought out book about a much needed topic. I wish I would have connected a bit more on a personal level with the characters and their story in an emotional way, but it was still well done. There is some language, but I appreciated that it didn't dominate the story. Have you read If There's No Tomorrow? What did you think? Let me know!

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