It seems that so many of the Young Adult books published these days fall into one of two categories: Fantasy or Hardcore Angst.
I fluctuate between the two categories depending on my mood. When I am looking to escape I veer towards the Fantasy YA books and when I want to revisit my teenage years I amp up the angst. Sometimes, I want a break from it all. Those are the moments that I look for an author that I know is going to tell a sweet story that isn't rooted in some sort of childhood trauma or whose main character has just discovered a hidden "talent" that has manifested.
Jennifer Echols is one of my go-to authors when I'm in this mindset. Over the years I have read quite a few of her books, some are a bit more bubble gum and cotton candy while others are the perfect blend of real teen drama and fluff. The One That I want was the latter.
The subject matter wasn't all that heavy; girl sees boy, develops crush, best friend steps in and jealousy ensues. But it was all too relatable. I think most people can say they had that one friend in high school that kept you close for the simple joy of watching you fail and one upping you every chance they got. Manipulation hidden behind a sweet smile. Jennifer Echols exploration of the struggle one goes through while trying to do what's best for your friend, while making yourself happy in the process was spot on.
Gemma, the main character was incredibly relatable. Having been overweight all her life and just recently shed the pounds, you could easily see why she allowed herself to be pushed around by her so called best friend Addison. And why, when it came time to speak up about the boy she couldn't stop thinking about, she stayed quiet and suffered in silence. Gemma's story was heartfelt and a genuinely enjoyable read.
Recommended for readers 14+.