The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: June 12, 2016
Source: Provided by author
But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.
Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.
If you've known me any length of time you know that contemporary is my genre of choice. Whether it's young adult, new adult or adult fiction, I'm a contemporary girl. Even so, I'm still cautious about which books I accept for review. I read for myself, I read what I like, and that's that. But as soon as I read the synopsis of The Edge of Juniper I knew I wanted to read more. And I'm so glad I did.
Fay is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle in Indiana while her parents are out of the country for what ends up being a summer of change and growth. Her previous week-long visits have forged a close bond with her cousin so she's excited to have an entire summer together. But her extended stay shows what her earlier visits didn't. Cracks in the seemingly happy family begin to show - her uncle's drinking and volatile temper, the ever-changing set of house rules, and Celia's rendezvous with a boy that seems mainly to serve as a way to escape her home life. With her own parent's marriage foundering, Fay is no longer sure what she can believe in.
In the midst of this, Fay meets Malcolm Dearing - handsome and charming and apparently quite interested in getting to know her better. But due to her uncle's feelings about Malcolm's father, who is also his employer, Malcolm is decidedly off-limits. Fay doesn't count on Malcolm's persistence, though, or her own growing feelings. As the summer progresses and Fay navigates a new relationship, she begins to question the very things she has always counted on to be true.
Let me say straight up that I loved Fay. It's not often that a YA protagonist rings as true as this girl did. I loved that she did not fall into so many of the cookie cutter YA tropes we see over and over. She wasn't shy or insecure, she didn't have body image issues, she didn't lose all sense of self once a boy entered the picture, she wasn't angsty and overly emotional. No, this girl had a good head on her shoulders. Fay was confident (usually), level-headed and not afraid to speak her mind. She didn't play games. She was forthright and it was when she was at her most candid that I found myself reading with a big smile on my face and marveling at this remarkable girl.
As for Malcolm... oh my. Every girl should be so lucky to have a Malcolm in her life. I loved his persistence at trying to get to know Fay. Heck, just trying to get her name in the beginning! :) I loved how he was so genuine, so patient, so funny and kind. His eternal optimism just as Fay was losing faith in happily ever after's was so endearing.
When it comes to secondary characters Malcolm's parents were the true stand-outs for me. Oh how I loved them. Malcolm's friend Paul and Fay's cousin Abe were also favorites. I found myself never quite warming to Celia and more often than not felt that Fay was a much better friend (cousin) to Celia than Celia was to Fay.
If I were being nit-picky, I could say that there were a few instances where the dialogue did not really ring true. At one point I made a note saying, "While I love what he said, what teenage boy really talks like this?" But it's a credit to Richardson's writing and amazing characterization that I was completely willing to overlook those instances and just go with the story.
My mental snapshots from The Edge of Juniper: hot summer days, ice cream from the Dream Cone, kisses, riding on the back of lawn mowers, swimming in ponds, wood shavings, skinny dipping, poems written on napkins, hot and humid nights, Clydesdales.
I so hope this wonderful, heartfelt novel gets the attention it deserves. I'll certainly be doing my part in