Dina Silver is known for her women's fiction novels but she has recently released her first YA book, Whisper if You Need Me. The contemporary novel was an absolute delight to read and Sarah Dessen fans should take note.
Here's the synopsis:
A strong-willed yet vulnerable young beauty, Julia Pearl is sixteen years old when she’s sent away to summer camp for the first time. Julia’s father and stepmother are convinced that time away from home will be good for Julia, hoping it will restore the confidence she lost when her mother disappeared five years earlier.
Released from the emotional constraints of her new family and the ugly reputation her mother left behind, Julia finds herself reluctantly tossed into the free-spirited and often drama-infused world of overnight camp—where she quickly falls for an intensely charismatic counselor named Jack Dempsey, a nineteen-year-old college student who will prove to save her life in more ways than one.
Rich with humor and poignancy, Whisper If You Need Me is a timeless story that will remind readers of the strength of friendship, the unwavering devotion of family, and ultimately, the power of young love.
My favourite thing about Sarah Dessen novels (yes, I know this isn't a review about one of her books...bear with me here) is that the story is about more than just romance. Sometimes romance doesn't even really factor into the story. The point of the novel is to watch the heroine, a teenage girl, find her way in the world. There is drama, usually of the family sort but not always, and a little something special that hooks you and drags you, quite happily, into the story. Dina Silver has found that little something with her new book. Julia has a lot of stuff to work through...why her mom left, being "forced" to go to summer camp, having a new step-mother and step-siblings, plus a severe nut allergy. And for those, like me, who enjoy the swooning, the first kisses, and the romance, there's some of that too.
The setting played such a huge part in this novel. I never went to summer camp as a kid (the closest I got was a few day school trip to a nearby camp. I think I've blocked most of it out.) so there's a bit of a novelty factor for me. But I think summer camp is perfect for a contemporary YA novel and allows for a bunch of high school kids (and therefore a bunch of drama and angst) to get together somewhere that isn't school.
The only little teeny thing that bugged me has to do with the age of the characters. Julia is 16, Jack is 19. I just could not see how a guy who's just finished his first year of college could want to date a junior...in high school. I wish Julia had been going into grade 12 instead of 11...I think that would have eased my mind so much more. But really...that was the single thing I had an issue with in this novel.
That being said...oh, the feels I had reading about Julia and Jack. I think the fact that he was older did help because he was able to help her learn to deal with, well, life. And their first kiss? Talk about swooning. It was almost instalove but because they weren't allowed to be together (ooh, forbidden love to boot!) they had the chance to build a friendship first.
Finally, I liked that Julia was able to make some new friends while at camp. She has to deal with Mean Girls (oh my god, these girls were awful) but between Jack and her new friends, she's able to (usually) ignore the taunts and ridiculous comments and emerge on the other side even stronger than before.
I could not stop reading Whisper If You Need Me. Dina Silver sucked me in with her riveting, well written story. This is one that all contemporary YA fans will enjoy, especially those who like their heroines strong and relateable.
*An advanced eARC was provided by the author in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*