Review: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

Series: No

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Release Date: June 12, 2016

Format: e-book

Source: Provided by author

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

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.
My Thoughts

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 pushing it on recommending it to everyone. If you're a fan of YA contemporary fiction, The Edge of Juniper is simply not to be missed.

4/5 Stars 

*Note: I was contacted by the author and provided a copy of this book with no expectation beyond an honest review. This does not impact my opinion or the content of this review. 
What's the last book you read that made you want to
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  1. Great review Tanya!! This one sounds really good and glad it was so heartfelt. I have had that experience before thinking wow, do teens talk liket his? (especially boys) but glad the rest rang true.

    1. Thanks Eva! Yeah, I mean it's not like it's a rarity... I know it's gotta be tough to always perfectly nail a teen voice and make it 100% authentic but still - when it happens it always takes me out of the story for a minute. Even so, it was easy to mostly overlook it because I was loving everything and everyone else so much. :)

  2. I love contemporary myself. I just haven't read many good books in this genre lately. This one sounds pretty good, so maybe. Nice review, Tanya! :)

    1. Thanks Jazmen. Sometimes it's not even easy to say why one book works for you and another just doesn't. But this one definitely worked for me.

  3. Oh this sounds really good!! Ha I always wonder sometimes if teenagers actually talk like in the books or if I don't remember anymore - either way glad that didn't really bother you even if you noticed it!!! Great review!

    1. Thanks Grace! Yeah, I haven't been a teenager in * mumble-mumble * years but I know I was nowhere near as eloquent as some of these teens in YA fiction. LOL There were a few instances of that in this book but it just wasn't enough to taint my feelings... everything else was so, so good.

  4. Oh perfect. I'm happy to see you found another indie to get behind. I like how you said Fay doesn't fall into the usual YA personality tropes. We all have hang ups but as a teenager I was pretty confident in myself and I hate how many YA books portrays these girls as weak and in need of a boy to show them how amazing they are. This is not real life.
    Anyhow, great review! I'll add it to the TBR. :)

    1. Yes! Practically every female YA MC is kind of a mess - unless it's a fantasy and then she's an indestructible badass. But in this one Fay was like a breath of fresh air. Sure she faltered, had her moments, but who doesn't? I just loved her.

  5. AAAWWW and now I want a Malcolm all to myself! I loved how you described his character because that makes me really want to stop reading Game of Thrones and start on this one! <3 I also love how Fay is strong,and that she doesn't fall into the cookie cutter mode of your typical YA female! <3 I'm going to add this to my TBR ! Thanks T! <3 :)

    1. I want a Malcolm, too! I wonder if my husband would mind? Hee hee! This is about as far from GoT that you can get, but if you're in the mood for some YA contemporary this is the best I've read in a while! So happy to add to that TBR! :)