Title: Making Memories
Author: Georgia Evans
Two best friends from highschool reunite after four years of college and take a promised trip to Myrtle Beach. She’s skinny with big boobs, and he’s ripped. He insists they share hotel rooms so he can “protect” her, and the predictable happens. It probably would have happened by day three, but she’s convinced he’s engaged to his evil exgirlfriend Roxie despite the fact he’s not mentioned this Roxie in the past four years and the only person to spot them together said they were arguing.
Essentially Making Memories is a fluff romance, and to be fair, that’s not my preferred genre. But I’m here to try new things.
So first the good. Melanie (the protagonist) has a consistent narrative voice, and the relationship is believable enough. She’s almost believable as a ditzy friend telling you about a special vacation where she found “love”. The plot is simple and predictable, but it never boasts to be anything else, which is fine for a fluff romance. And a pair of identical twins pop up for the second half of the story… I’ve got a special soft spot for identical twins.
And now the bad. The book is every bit as exciting as your ditzy friend telling you about her AMAZING vacation which is far more interesting to her than you. You smile politely and fight a yawn, mainly enjoying the fact your friend had fun and wishing she didn’t spoil all her jokes by overplaying them.
I guess in a town with a population of five hundred (and an inexplicable number of highschoolers considering) it’s not so hard to set the curve, which is the only way this girl could have gotten enough scholarships to pay her way through college.
I’m well aware that book smart doesn’t necessarily mean people smart. Social cues aren’t easy for me either, but Melanie takes the prize for being oblivious. She keeps convincing herself that her best friend (who’s so obviously smitten with her, it doesn’t count as a spoiler) is in love with Roxie, who he never mentions and has excluded from this vacation, that she believes his making out with her is an accidental reflex…
The dialogue is almost entirely short, grammatically correct sentences, which comes off as rather stiff and unnatural. If you’re feeling generous, you could write this off as a narrative voice fitting a kindergarten teacher (a job Melanie will be starting post-vacation). But it’s easy reading romance, so I don’t expect Shakespeare. The shallow plot and transparent characters can be forgiven or at least explained by the nature of the genre.
What drops the story from a three to a two is the cringe worthy ethical aspects. Okay, I’m a prude, but at least the sex was summarized and mostly off screen. The glaring problem is the complete lack of self-respect Melanie has. Granted the evil ex had done a number on her self-confidence (four years ago in high school), but despite a long trail of clues, the guy kissing her multiple times, and getting moody and jealous if she so much as mentions another guy, she can’t conceive the possibility that he’s romantically interested in her.
She genuinely believes he’s engaged and in love with another girl but decides to have sex with him to just enjoy this special moment with her best guy friend. If she had very relaxed/open ideas about sex this would be one thing (though it still doesn’t excuse her deliberately participating in what she believes to be cheating), but the author goes to great lengths setting up how the pair think casual sex is immoral and getting mad at each other for the slight potential of a hook up. The first half of the book is dedicated to them assuring their families that they aren’t going to have sex on this trip. Even after having sex with him twice, she’s still convinced the guy couldn’t love her as more than a friend.
The author tries to plaster this over as okay. Because the other woman is really evil, and the guy really loves her. But it gave me the creeps, particularly with the author claiming this is YA appropriate. The last chapter and epilogue are practically a condom commercial, and I get the weird feeling this is supposed to show “healthy” sexual behavior since they’re using birth control and he asks five times if she really wants to have sex. But the failure of the characters to have any sort of clear relationship discussion before intercourse, and the protagonists’ willingness to give up their virginity to what they both believed to be a one-sided situation was not healthy, quite the opposite.
If I could ignore the ethical implications, I could maybe give this a three, but I don’t think we should have to ignore ethics entirely while reading, particularly when they’re internally inconsistent, so 2/5 is my final score.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Georgia Evans has graciously offered to giveaway a paperback copy of Making Memories, so you can decide for yourself. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post with your name, address, and where you would go on a vacation with your best friend by April 10th. (Comments are screened, so this won’t be public.)