Monday, March 10, 2014

Undeclared - Review

Undeclared (Woodland, # 1)

By: Jen Frederick

Published: April 28th 2013 by Jen Frederic

260 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher/Author (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--For four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson — or any man — ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way — literally — through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet.

First off, I absolutely love the part of Grace and Noah writing each other for four years while Noah was deployed in the Marines. My own husband and I started our friendship off through writing back and forth and of course that eventually led to more. Anytime a book carries an aspect that is so familiar to my own experience, I just love that.

I loved Noah. When he was getting close to finishing his time in the Marines, he realizes that he’s a bit of a broken man. He suffers from PTSD and he’s basically got no direction in life after coming back to civilian life. So he friend-zones Grace. He send her a letter basically telling her that he doesn’t want to meet her. He does this so that he can spend time in therapy overcoming his PTSD, going to community college for 2 years saving up so that he can get accepted into the same college Grace attends. He basically has to get himself ready to be with her. I mean I’m not saying he couldn’t have told her the truth about his plan, but I fully respect his desire to get himself to the right place to be able to pursue a relationship with Grace the right way. And he does whatever he has to do to prove to Grace that he’s a safe bet for her. I loved how Noah doesn’t fit the mold of typical new adult male. He isn’t interested in any girl besides Grace, and there’s never a time when I had to worry about him making some stupid mistake and slipping up with another female. He came to Central on a mission, and that mission was to win Grace back.

I could relate to Grace. After having her heart set on meeting Noah and being with him after his deployment was over, it broke her heart to receive his letter about just being friends. She looks for him in every dark haired boy she meets. And so when he shows up at Central without a word she’s beyond surprised. Why would a boy who doesn’t want a relationship with her travel across the country to go to the same school as her? Yet she can’t really trust him or trust herself with him. He broke her heart once. Isn’t it possible that he will break it again?

The story pacing felt just right. I liked the backstory that felt like Jen Frederick had explored enough to know all the intimate details, but yet didn’t shove backstory or too many flashbacks in my face. I felt invested in the side characters, specifically Lana and Bo. I’m so glad that book 2 is about Bo. It’s hard to tell from the description of Unspoken who the main characters are. And I can’t wait to see if there are any other characters she delves into deeper in future books.

Undeclared felt like the perfect book for me at just the right time. Coming off of a book that I was extremely disappointed with, Undeclared exceeded just about every expectation I had for it. I was highlighting and making notes left and right. But the good kind of notes. I’m so glad I took a chance on Jen Frederick and checked out this series. I was really impressed with how well she knew her characters and how each character behaved in a way that felt genuine and separate from each other.

Favorite quotes:

The Marines may have made me a man, but Grace made me human.

You never date a guy who can wear skinnier jeans than you.

"Trust me to know my own feelings. Don't assume you know what's best for me."

"I have a boyfriend," I heard her say. ..."I had tacos for lunch," he replied. "What?" ..."I thought we were talking about random things of no importance."

"You have to give yourself room to fail, Grace.”

“I’ve just been waiting for you to come around instead of forcing myself on you.”

I’d learned so much from trying and failing. It’s something I wouldn’t fear again. Funny how facing down your greatest fears actually made you stronger.

And of course there are others I want to share, but they’re just a little bit spoilery. I highly recommend Undeclared by Jen Frederick, and I can’t wait to check out the others in this series. Undeclared gets 4 stars. Have you read Undeclared? What did you think? Let me know!

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