I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 6, 2016.
Ash Gupta is having an amazing senior year, hanging out with his tight circle of friends and cranking out the grades his wealthy, immigrant Asian-Indian parents expect. Eden Moore’s biggest goal is to escape the poverty that haunts her family. When she’s not babysitting a special needs boy, managing the high school website, or attending classes, she’s studying her ass off. Her perfect GPA should be enough to win her the class valedictorian title, and with it, an endorsement for the full-ride Peyton Scholarship. Eden’s sure this is her chance to get out of her dead-end town and her trailer-park life for good, until she discovers that the arrogant, rich Ash also wants the title and the scholarship that will come along with it—for the prestige. To both of their surprise, when Eden and Ash are forced to work together on a school project, sparks fly. As they spend more time together, antagonism changes to romance. They start a secret relationship, even though they’re on opposite sides of nearly every social hierarchy their friends and families can imagine—race, class, social status.
This review is a hard one to write, mainly because there were just so many things I didn't like about it. I only gave it one star on Goodreads, for crying out loud. I never do that. And you can take this review with a grain of salt because so many other people loved it.
This book had so much diversity, which was great. The problem was how they used it. Eden lives in a trailer park. She is poor and everyone teases her because of it and also because her biological mom (who is no longer in the picture) slept around a lot. I know this author is from North Carolina, but it's like she took every stereotype of a Southerner and wrapped it in one main character. It was annoying.
Let's talk about Eden's friend, Mundy. Mundy has been homeschooled for a while and her family just moved to town and she starts attending public high school. Mundy rubbed me the wrong way right away. She sat with Eden in the cafeteria the first day and when Eden asked why, she basically said it was because Eden was poor and hanging out with someone who lived in a trailer park was a "new experience" for her. Umm, what??
So Eden was a token poor person basically?? And then she later said that she admired Eden so much because she didn't complain about her "situation" when she has every reason to and other kids complain too much. It just seemed like Mundy was looking down on Eden. And then Eden kept describing Mundy as "perfect." That seriously irritated me. She looked perfect, she acted perfect, she was basically just a perfect human being with a perfect family and she was a perfect friend. Sounds annoying, right? Trust me, it was even more annoying to read about it.
Now let's talk about the main characters: Eden and Ash. Ash is Indian and wealthy and has totally domineering parents who try to control his life any way they can. First of all, the book started with Eden talking about how she never got along with Ash and I still don't understand why. From what I understand, they rarely spoke to each other and yet they hated each other. That was just an excuse for more drama, really. I didn't buy the hate to love trope because they didn't seem to have a reason to hate each other.
And do you know what finally made Ash notice Eden? She dressed in something besides baggy skirts and jeans. Yep, a tight tank top and tight jeans made him ask her out. I despite stories where the guy doesn't notice the girl until she changes something stupid about her physical appearance. I didn't sense any chemistry between the two of them when they did start going out and I had NO CLUE why they felt the need to do so. I can kind of understand why they wouldn't want Eden's dad to know (more on him in a second), but why wouldn't they want to tell his parents? And why wouldn't they want the other kids at school to know? I guess his parents didn't like her because she was poor. Ugh, please. And yeah, they kind of became rivals because they were both vying for this really important scholarship. Again, more unnecessary drama. Why is a rich kid like Ash applying for a full ride to college?? That pissed me off. But what made me even madder was that she lost some of her drive for the scholarship while they were dating. There really wasn't any more talk about it until they got in another fight. I added a spoiler about the end in my Goodreads review that you can read here. I didn't want to put it in the blog in case people still wanted to read the book.
Now we can talk about Eden's family. Eden's stepmom was actually way better than her dad, which was unusual. I did like her relationship with her stepmom, but Eden's dad was a total jerk and emotionally abusive. Oh, and he told Eden numerous times that he didn't want her to go to college at ALL. What kind of dad says that?? Wouldn't a good father actually WANT his daughter to go to college and get a good job?? I can get why he would worry about how to pay for it, but he didn't even want her to apply for the scholarship that would pay for everything. He was also a racist and that is why she didn't want to tell him about Ash. I feel like the racism thing was a plot device too.
There was just so much about this book that I didn't like and I hate that. There are so many rave reviews of this one and yet I can't think of a single positive. Oh well. Can't win them all, I guess.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one.