Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Survival and Sex Positivity: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Title: Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018!
*eARC kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing*

From Goodreads...
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

My Review!
I was a little nervous going into this one, because while I’d LOVED The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, I DNFed Alex, Approximately, TWICE. So I wasn’t sure if the first had been a fluke, or if it was just the second story that was bothering me. And I’m so glad to say that it was the second book itself, because to be honest, I loved Starry Eyes even more than TASOAH. It was fluffy, but realistic with the friendship aspects, and the romance at the center of it was so sweet and had just the right amount of angst to kill me but also revive me. And I loved that the backdrop of it was camping and the stars and surviving outdoors.

I could immediately relate to Zorie and how she was a planner. How very careful and detail-oriented she was. But it was a crutch, for her, and she couldn’t always recognize that. Because when life threw her curveballs, she never knew how to deal with them, so she lashed out and tried to hide. She was also afraid of letting people in, especially after getting burned a few times. She had to learn, though, that being careful is okay, but not to be TOO cautious and scared. And thanks to a little nudge from her stepmom, Zorie steps out of her comfort zone and rekindles her relationship with Lennon.

But oh god, like I said, they almost killed me. These two were so angsty and angry and stubborn, and they just could not get to a place of understanding fast, which I did think was realistic (even though it was basically just a lack of communication, like come on, kids). But having to survive the wilderness, together, they finally have the chance to talk and make up and have ALL THE SEX. (No, really, all the sex. I love how sex positive this book was and how the author showed that sometimes, teenagers just want to explore all of that with each other, and that’s okay!!). Plus, her and Lennon were just freaking CUTE.

The only negative thing I will say is that I didn’t always like the mental health conversations. Lennon’s dad had committed suicide, so he and Zorie talked about that, but in the way that said: he always seemed so happy, I just don’t understand why he would do that. I think it can be a normal response for people who could never see that coming, but it’s problematic and it’s not challenged in the eARC I read. And Zorie one day just suddenly decides that she can just ignore those inclinations. And while yes, that’s fine because sometimes it works, I thought Zorie’s OCD and anxiety was a bit stronger than that.

But yeah, aside from that, I fucking ADORED this one! I was kind of sad that Zorie and her ex-best girl friend could not make up (who just ditched her and Lennon in the woods, omg). But friendships are hard, especially at that age, and they don’t always last. But Zorie had Lennon, and a girl from her astrology club, and her stepmom (who was like her BFF, which I loved seeing because you don’t often get that with stepparents), AND Lennon’s moms. She had an army to help her deal with everything going on, and it was wonderful to see. The relationships just felt so genuine and real, and I loved that so much.


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