by Lisa Burstein
To be published by Entangled Teen
on March 5, 2013
Source: e-ARC from the publisher for possible review. Please see my FTC statement on the right sidebar.
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Note on content: this book edges into New Adult territory, featuring post-high school characters.
Summary (from Goodreads:) What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do? You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. You’d be wrong. There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about. What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open? But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies. And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?
My take: Dear Cassie is a companion book to Pretty Amy, which I reviewed here. You don't need to have read Pretty Amy to read and enjoy Dear Cassie. The books explore the aftermath of a prom night fiasco, in which three friends, Amy, Cassie and Lila were stood up by their dates, then arrested for possession of marijuana. In the aftermath of this event, all the girls will have to come to terms with the various personal issues and insecurities that got them to that point. There was a major plot development in Pretty Amy concerning Cassie that I wasn't sure I remembered correctly, but having my memory be a little hazy actually made this book that much more suspenseful.
Dear Cassie begins as Cassie's at an airport, waiting to be picked up. A cute ("cutest guy in a boy band cute") guy tries to talk to her and she shoots him down. Of course, they're both headed to the Turning Pines Wilderness Camp, a.k.a. rehab in the woods. Cassie has strong feelings about woods:
I hated the woods. The bugs, the openness, the fact that anything can come at you from anywhere, that you can be lost and never find your way back.
Cassie is dumped in a ramshackle cabin with two other girls, Nez, who talks too much, and Troyer, who doesn't talk at all. The girls are forced to do manual labor day after day and write in their journals. They're encouraged to come to terms with the things that led them to Turning Pines. Nez just wants to sneak out to the boys' cabins, and Troyer wants to give everyone the silent treatment. Cassie doesn't come to terms with anything. She doesn't want to think about Aaron -- the guy who ditched her at prom -- or about what happened between the two of them after that. She uses her sharp tongue and her tough attitude to push everyone away, over and over. Even Ben. But he's pretty persistent. And seems pretty nice. Everyone at Turning Pines has secrets. Secrets that will eventually come out.
I felt a huge amount of compassion for Cassie. Her parents aren't around to support or guide her. She thought she could count on her friends, but after their arrest, every girl was out for herself. The only person she can count on is her brother. She's extremely hard on herself, and believes that no one would love her if they knew the "real" her, which is a feeling a lot of us can relate to.
I'm a big fan of these books. Like Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie has some hilariously funny moments and some very poignant moments. Dear Cassie is a book that will appeal to fans of realistic fiction, to New Adult fans, and to readers who like a lot of emotion in their books.
Interested? Stop by Freebie Friday on March 8 -- an ARC of Dear Cassie will be one of the giveaway choices!