Anything to Have You
|This book is actually much better than the cover implies, I promise!|
This is the first YA contemporary fiction book I have read in a while, and I'm really glad that I picked it up. I really only gave it a chance because I like to try to read outside my comfort zone, but generally I prefer paranormal/adventure YA books to books about rich suburban teen girls.
Anything to Have You is the story of two best friends, Natalie and Brooke, during their senior year of high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. (This is weird because I used to teach in that county... so it was like reading a book about my students.) The summary on the back of the book describes Natalie as "college bound," which is funny because one of the major issues that Natalie is dealing with is that she DIDN'T apply to college and doesn't know what she is going to do after graduation. Also, Brooke DID apply and was accepted to a bunch of colleges, including University of Pennsylvania, so I'm not sure what that's about.
Basically, Natalie is a shy, quiet but beautiful girl who loves to cook and watch movies. She has a very close relationship with her single father. She feels uncomfortable going to parties, but Brooke is usually able to drag her to a few. Brooke is a queen bee- every stereotype you could imagine for a popular blonde girl in high school.
Brooke's long-term boyfriend, Aiden, happens to be everything that Natalie wants in a guy, and when they end up paired together for a school project, she starts to become closer friends with him. When Brooke drags them both to a party where they all overindulge, Natalie wakes up the next morning in bed with Aiden but with no idea what happened. Aiden tells her that it's cool, nothing happened, and she believes him- after all, why would he lie, but over the next few weeks their relationship just gets weirder and weirder. The whole thing blows up at the senior prom, as these things tend to, and the secrets turn out to be very juicy.
I genuinely enjoyed reading this book, much to my surprise. As I said above, I usually do not enjoy contemporary fiction, but Anything to Have You was much grittier and relatable than I expected. It helps that the first-person viewpoint switches between Natalie and Brooke, giving Brooke much more depth than she did at first, when I wrote her off as another Regina George. She's actually a much more complicated character than that, and I found myself appreciating her perspective. The supporting characters were also well-written and entertaining, particularly the-jerk-Natalie-lost-her-virginity-to, a nasty boy named Reed. My favorite scenes were the ones between Brooke and Reed- he just seemed like he could be a real guy I went to high school with.
I would recommend this book to fans of Sarah Dessen- it's like this generation's Someone Like You. I'm going to check out Paige Harbison's other books, and next time maybe I won't be so quick to judge a book by it's cover.
For more information, check out the author's website.