Review: Happenstance (#1, Happenstance) by Jamie McGuire

My Thoughts

A softer, sweeter side of Jamie McGuire.
It’s fate, love and life converging in a touching tale that lingers long after you’re done.

4stars

Synopsis

happenstance#1 New York Times Bestseller Jamie McGuire returns to self-publishing with this page-turning YA account of Erin Easter, one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Erin Easter, raised by a neglectful single mom, keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin A. and Erin M. are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Erin Easter isn’t–and they never let her forget it. Erin A. has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.

Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Erin Easter’s feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Erin does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings … both for his future, and for her.

But when a shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, Erin’s life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything Erin thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

My Review

“It was like I left the day before as one person, and came back as someone else.”

This was a story that was both sweet and sad, heartbreaking and hopeful. I loved that Jamie returned to self-publishing with this touching YA story that carried a powerful message. A story about three girls who shared so much in common yet led lives that began to diverge the day they were born. Lives that would fatefully converge and change in a moment. I loved how the story pivoted around this notion that everything can change by chance. How the many singular, seemingly insignificant events and choices can forever alter your life and the lives of others.

Erin Easter was born on the same day as Erin Alderman and Erin Masterson. And although Erin Alderman (“Alder”) and Erin Masterson (“Sonny”) left the hospital to live in beautiful homes with wealthy parents, Erin Easter began a life with a single mother who was often too drunk to notice or care for her. The three girls were close at first, but one day everything changed, morphing from friends to the juxtaposed roles of bullies and the bullied. Every day Alder and Sonny taunted Erin, throwing the misery of her own life in her face. Erin kept to herself, biding the time before she could leave it all behind. She couldn’t wait for college when she would break free from everything that held her down.

“It was these quiet moments… that I savored the most — but I wouldn’t miss them. I wouldn’t miss anything about Blackwell.”

There was a boy, however, with warm green eyes that she wouldn’t be able to forget. He was a star athlete. Part the popular kids who ruled the school. He was Alder’s boyfriend. And he was suddenly changing his ways. Weston Gates was being nice. To her. She had crushed on him for so long, but she undeniably knew her place in their fragile school hierarchy.

“I’d been trying not to stare at those eyes since grade school.”

But Weston begins to stick up for her just weeks ahead of graduation and suddenly nothing seems so clear. Things are not as they should be and she’s torn between the opportunity to revel in the feeling of something nice and longed for versus keeping her distance as graduation nears. The more she talks to Weston, the more she begins to know him in a way she never expected. Although raised in a wealthy family by caring parents, he’s feeling trapped between their expectations and his own dreams. Erin understands the feeling of wanting to do something else… to live another life.

“I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. And I feel like… I feel like you’re the only person in the world that doesn’t expect me to.”

And just as things fall into a new normal, it all shatters when a tragedy changes everything. Erin’s life blurs into the undefined. As the dust settles and a shocking truth is revealed, her life seems to finally be looking up …

“It’s just too much good luck all at once for someone who hasn’t had any.”

This is very much a YA story full of sweet and warmth and introspection. Erin is at the threshold of a whole new life, but I have that calm-before-the-storm feeling… that deceptive quiet before everything changes again and real emotions are processed in the face of new realities. Jamie McGuire certainly proves she can deliver a captivating story whether it’s new adult, young adult, paranormal or post-apocalyptic fiction. And I certainly can’t wait to see how the story continues to change shape. There are 3 novellas planned in the series.

“It was like a dream, one that I would inevitably wake up from soon. Something was going to come along and take it all away, because things like this didn’t happen to me.”

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About Jamie

1012783_168319016673249_179864109_nJamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, OK. She attended the Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.Her most recent novel, Walking Disaster debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

She has also written bestselling contemporary romance Beautiful Disaster, and the Providence series.Jamie now lives in Enid, OK with her three children and husband Jeff, who is a real, live cowboy. They share their 30 acres with six horses, three dogs, and Rooster the cat.

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