Calmer Girls by Jennifer Kelland Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5

There are no words to describe how much time I spent thinking about what to rate this book. 4 stars was much too high. But 3 stars was much too low – this book deserves better. In the end, I decided to go with the latter.

Calmer Girls is about sixteen-year-old Samantha Cross, who is struggling with dysfunctional parents and an older sister who is a hundred times more confident and outgoing than she is. When she meets Ben Swift, everything feels like it is falling into place – until Ben becomes her sister’s boyfriend. It’s a battle between common sense and her own desires, but one thing is certain: somebody is in for a broken heart.

The writing style was perhaps my favorite part of the book. It was fluent and engaging, and that was what made this book easy to understand and hard to put down.

It was a very quick read (I finished in one sitting), and the plot definitely moves along very quickly. Lots of things happened in the book, and although I liked the excitement, I wish the development was slower and I had more time to take deep breaths. Other than the pacing, I thought the plot itself was definitely a wild ride; it was dramatic and full of ups and down – although sometimes I just wanted to throw my phone against the wall and scream at the main character to get it together.

With that being said, I definitely disagreed with a lot of Samantha’s actions, and although I felt extremely frustrated, it was easy to see that that was the entire point. My opinion on this book’s characters is tied in with the fast plot; because of the speed, I felt like the character arc happened a bit abruptly, and I would have wished to see a more gradual development. Especially around the 80% mark, I felt like Samantha began to lose a bit of her voice, and although some scenes may have been used for the build-up, she felt very out of character.

I also wish I saw a little more of her sister, Veronica. For most of the book, she felt very one-dimensional, and although we saw a glimpse of a different side to her at the end, for most of the book she just seemed painted as the terrible, selfish, arrogant big sister.

I do think that a lot of the issues I had with the book were due to speed, and the author’s writing style was definitely enough to keep me flipping the pages. This story is definitely something different though; at the beginning, I had felt like it was just another YA romance, but the story really took an unexpected turn. I commend the author for addressing several important social themes as well. Overall, this was a quick read and definitely one I would recommend to readers of contemporary YA who were looking for something apart from the typical love story.

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