Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Saturday, August 11, 2012

Plot Summary:
Kylie is an overachiever. Not only is she going to NYU on scholarship, she is the Valedictorian of Freiburg Academy. Although Kylie is the smartest girl in school, she is also a loner and an outcast. Unlike her Freiburg peers, Kylie is not rich and is there on scholarship, which makes sets her apart from everyone else. Max is the exact opposite of of Kylie. Not only is he super popular, but rich and gorgeous. Will, on the other hand, is unbelievably rich, but an outcast like Kylie who isn't shy to express who he is much to the chagrin of the school principal and his parents. Lily, Kylie's nemesis, is not only smart, but she is also rich and beautiful and Max's girlfriend. Kylie's goal in life is to be a writer because, through her characters, she can fully express who she is and nothing will stop her from achieving her dream. However, when Mistress Murphy announces one last assignment before graduation, Kylie's is extremely unhappy with this paper; it's not that it's difficult, her task is team up with another classmate who just happens to be Max. Mortified, and terrified, Kylie just wants to get this over with so she can get out of La Jolla and to New York so she can finally live the life she has always wanted. The only problem is that she has to somehow get Max to meet with her so she can complete their assignment. Surprisingly, this meeting will be the weirdest and the craziest ride of her life. When her laptop is stolen, Kylie does the dumbest thing she could have ever done: chase after the thief. However, she isn't the only one with bad judgment since Max decides to help her out. What they don't realize is that they are about to ruin the plans of some serious thieves. Just when things couldn't get worse, Max and Kylie are left, alone, in Ensenada and all they can really do is talk and Kylie is not about to let this gorgeous, rich boy tell her about how his life is difficult when her own is about to implode if she doesn't get home quick. The irony of it all: spending time with each other turns out to be the best thing that has ever happened to both of them.

Critical Evaluation:
I gotta admit, this book was hilarious, heart-breaking, and absolutely wonderful all at the same time. When I picked up this book and, by looking at the cover, I was expecting something light and almost vapid. BOY WAS I WRONG! What makes this story brilliant is that it's told in alternating point of views, which not only adds to the depth of the story, but really conveys to readers that each these characters are the real deal. What I love about this story is that the main characters evolve wonderfully where they are not only able, and willing, to discuss their vulnerabilities, but their vices as well. Max, who seems like world's biggest jerk, is not at what Kylie thinks. Now Kylie, according to Max, is seriously one of the quirkiest persons he has ever met, which makes her unreal. When Kylie not only hijacks his BMW, she hijacks the van that was transporting all the electronics that were stolen, which not only makes her his hero, but someone to admire. When Max is able to walk into a room, and own it, Kylie's admiration for him skyrockets. These two characters have really underestimated each other and it's great to see how humbling this experience is to one another. As for Will, Lily, and Jake, their own stories compliment this story because not only are Max and Kylie struggling with their own insecurities, and fears, Will, Lilly, and Jake are also forced to re-evaluate their own characters as well. I will also admit that I loved, loved, loved, Jake's voice in this story. Jake has Asperger's Syndrome and he clings to Kylie because she knows about everything he likes and dislikes. As reader's dive further into the story, they will learn that their father is practically a ghost. When Kylie is unable to take of Jake for the day, their father is the one who has to step in. For Jake, he has to go out on a limb and give their dad a chance without throwing a tantrum. When he walks out of the house to find Kylie, not is the father given a major wake up call, Jake learns that he has to start communicating with others besides Kylie. As I said, along with the sheer comedy, the characters have some serious issues that will not only be revealed, but have to be dealt with. The ending is perfect and I was completely satisfied.

Information about the Author:
According to Amazon.com:
FROM WHAT I REMEMBER...is the second novel by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas. Their first novel, KARMA BITES, was a middle grade novel published by Houghton Mifflin in 2010. Kramer is a former film producer and currently writes movies, tv and magazine articles. Her television credits include LIZZIE McGUIRE and LESS THAN PERFECT. Her film credits include LABOR PAINS (writer), JAWBREAKER (producer) and IGBY GOES DOWN (producer) among others. She's at work on a new movie for Twentieth Century Fox. In addition, she's written comic pieces for ELLE, MARIE CLAIRE and THE LONDON SUNDAY TIMES as well as a variety of other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and three children.
[Valerie Thomas] is a writer of young adult novels. I spent many years working in the film industry as a producer and screenwriter until I escaped to the relative calm of the book world.

Genre:
Teen Contemporary Fiction, Teen Humor, Teen Romance

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 9 & up

Books Similar to From What I Remember:
 Awards & Recognition:

From Amazon.com:
"It's no surprise that both Kramer and Thomas share common roots in the film industry. Their love of the medium comes through not only in Kylie and Will's passion for quoting movies but also in the fast-paced action sequences that seem made for the big screen." - Kirkus Review

"...the quick pace and the hot-and-cold relationship between Kylie and Max will keep readers interested and rooting for them until the very end. Far from flawless, the characters seem real." -School Library Journal

"This has all the right ingredients for an engrossing summer read... Pack it in the beach bag along with sunscreen and shades, take a break from ACT prep, and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the worry side of your brain." -Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"This book made me laugh, cry and swoon; sometimes all at once." -YA Books Central

"From What I Remember's charm resides largely in its various characters' viewpoints, all teenagers capable of rather impressive empathy (when they choose to use it) and self-awareness. These are kids who are not only smart, they think. And they express themselves with clarity and style. " -Best Children's Books 

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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