India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancé and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend, Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.
But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful and big enough to change them forever…
Samantha Young, in her first Young Adult contemporary novel, tackles timely issues while delivering a novel that is sure to move all those that read it. I was hooked from page one, connecting quickly with India Maxwell, the narrator and main character of The Impossible Vastness of Us. Though she suffered through a traumatic childhood, India found strength in her recovery. I found her quick-witted and compassionate, snarky and secretly vulnerable.
There is a lot to like about The Impossible Vastness of Us. Young does a nice job of creating realistic characters without making them clichéd, which would have been so easy in the high society setting. India is the focal point of the story and as her relationship with each character grows it reveals more about her and them. I loved the dynamics between the characters and the way Young weaves all the stories together without letting anyone slip through the cracks. I was invested in every relationship, but there were three that stood out for me:
- India and her mother, Hayley, have a tentative relationship as the book starts. They actually seem more like sisters with Hayley portrayed as more girlish than mother-ish. It’s so easy in YA to leave the mother/daughter relationship in its infant stage as the MC finds her way without the unreliable adult. It’s quite the opposite here and I loved watching this relationship develop as India and Hayley face what happened when India was younger. Instead of Hayley being a one note character as I expected, she reveals herself to be someone who India could rely on.
- The relationship between India, Eloise, and Finn was unexpected and defines the book. All three are broken in some way and when circumstances should have divided them, it instead it brings them together as they form a protective bubble around each other. The scenes where Young has them huddled together talking were vivid and believable.
- My favorite relationship was between India and her stepfather, Theo. While the previous two were obvious and stood out, it was Theo that, to me, is the most important of the story. India’s ability to trust seems to depend on who Theo is as a father and a man. Their story touched my heart more than any other.
While I loved the character dynamics, I found the storytelling to be shaky at times. The Impossible Vastness of Us starts strong with hints of India’s traumatic childhood. Snippets of her past are revealed in flashbacks and I looked forward to seeing how she overcame everything that happened to her. But, as she develops relationships with both Eloise and Finn (together and separately) the book becomes overwhelmed with too many issues and I felt like India’s story got watered down. And, while I loved the relationship between India and Eloise-which grew in a natural and believable way-India and Finn seemed thrown together. There’s no doubt they had chemistry, but the catalyst that sends their relationship to the next level and their shared affection for Eloise felt like the only things linking them romantically. Finally, the ending seems to come out of nowhere, especially in Finn’s case, and it left the story feeling incomplete. Still, Young tugged at my heartstrings as India found her way while leading her friends and family to a place of love, safety, and acceptance.
3.5 stars. Heat level: 2
I received a copy of The Impossible Vastness of Us from InkSlingerPR and the publisher.
The Impossible Vastness of Us was published in June 2017 by Harlequin Teen.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Samantha Young is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of adult contemporary romances, including the On Dublin Street series and Hero, as well as the New Adult duology Into the Deep and Out of the Shallows. Every Little Thing, the second book in her new Hart’s Boardwalk series, will be published by Berkley in March 2017. Before turning to contemporary fiction, she wrote several young adult paranormal and fantasy series, including the amazon bestselling Tale of Lunarmorte trilogy. Samantha’s debut YA contemporary novel The Impossible Vastness of Us will be published by Harlequin TEEN in ebook& hardback June 2017
Samantha has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2012 for Best Author and Best Romance for On Dublin Street, Best Romance 2014 for Before Jamaica Lane, and Best Romance 2015 for Hero. On Dublin Street, a #1 bestseller in Germany, was the Bronze Award Winner in the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2013, Before Jamaica Lane the Gold Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2014 and Echoes of Scotland Street the Bronze Medal Winner for the LeserPreis German Readers Choice Awards for Best Romance 2015.
Samantha is currently published in 30 countries and is a #1 international bestselling author.