Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Katy Upperman
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Elise didn't think that life could get any harder after losing her brother to war and moving to a new city, but then she met Mati. Mati is only in America for the summer and is from Afghanistan, which is painful for Elise because her brother was in Afghanistan when he was killed. Both of their families are against their friendship. Despite the obstacles, they fall in love and spend every minute together. Before they know it, the summer is ending, and with only one week left together, Elise finds out that Mati is already promised to a girl at home. Even though this initially breaks her heart, her love for Mati is too great and they reconcile before he goes home. Eventually Mati defies his culture and his family to attend college in America, and against all odds, Mati and Elise get their happy ending.
Upperman’s novel draws in readers with vivid descriptions of the California coast, characters worth rooting for, and a unique and interesting writing style. The novel allows for both Mati and Elise to voice their viewpoint. All of Elise’s chapters are in prose form, while Mati’s are in verse. It is a lovely juxtaposition that adds dimension to the characters. Mati’s poetry subtly reminds the reader with his short sentences that English is his second language. While the novel does read very quickly, some developments are too quick and seem rather unbelievable. The last chapter, for instance, has a resolution for both Mati and Elise that is almost too good to be true and completely goes against Mati’s character. Even with these flaws, however, it is a good, enjoyable read.