Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Review: Who We Were

By Sara Steven

In the ten years since high school graduation, Maylee’s career, living arrangements, family, and especially her love life are at a standstill. When her twin brother, Mitch, falls for her high school enemy at their ten-year reunion, Maylee’s life is catapulted into chaos.

Maylee’s hatred for the blonde-haired Josephine isn’t the only thing she discovers at her reunion. Benson Drake, the introvert from high school, has matured into a sexy intellect. Now a writer and bartender, Benson’s grown into a man with a perfect balance of quirky wit and sex appeal. After a wardrobe malfunction, a spy mission gone wrong, and a dangerous cup of coffee, Maylee and Benson explore something they never even thought about during senior year. Along the way, they find out that reconnecting with the past can change you… or maybe just help you find your true self. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I’ve had the good fortune, or in some ways the misfortune, of attending two of my own high school reunions. There are definite highs and lows that can come from getting in touch with that teenage part of your psyche, the part you swore you’d never visit again because it’s the past. Yet, being there again, among old friends and potential foes, can make you feel as though you’re right there, that no time has passed from high school vs. now.

That’s what Maylee experiences when she goes back to her own ten year high school reunion in Lindsay Detwiler's latest novel, Who We Were. While she’s not entirely where she wants to be career-wise or on a personal level, she still wants to confront the past, particularly the one girl who made her four years a living hell. Her whole focus is showcasing how even though she’d been bullied, that it didn’t define her. Only, in doing so, she discovers that maybe it has, more than she could ever know.

Only in my worst nightmares could I conceive of my childhood enemy forging a relationship with my brother. That’s exactly what happens, and it seems as though time hasn’t changed everyone, especially not Josephine, who is still up to her old tricks and manipulative behavior. Maylee can’t help but wonder if her primary objective in dating Maylee’s brother is merely one of torture. And, she can’t fathom what anyone would see in Josephine, obvious beauty aside. The only saving grace from the reunion comes in the form of Benson, the boy from high school who seemed to see her even when she thought no one else noticed. And, he definitely notices her now, and she’s very aware of it.

Lindsay Detwiler has created characters you fall in love with, even the ones you love to hate, like Josephine. Written to true life, they all have layers, so even when you feel as though you’re rooting for the underdog, ultimately you discover that even those that appear to be the worst offenders are often the ones who need the most encouragement. In some ways this story reminded me of some of my own drama that surrounded my reunions, and while the last one I attended made me question whether I’ll attend the 30 year (it hurts to even say that number), chances are I will, because it’s nice to still have some sort of connection to that girl who at times felt like no one had really noticed her or cared, but in the end, someone did.

Thanks to Lindsay Detwiler for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Lindsay Detwiler: