Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: AGAIN by Lisa Burstein

by Lisa Burstein
Publication Date: September 22, 2014
Age Group: NA/Adult
Pages: 252
Source: Wordsmith Publicity/Purchased
Purchase Amazon /B&N / iTunes / Kobo

from Goodreads

 How far would you go for a second chance?

Eleven years after flunking out of college, Kate has finally hit rock-bottom. Losing her job and boyfriend in one drunken night, she’s determined to fix her life by going back to the moment when she let partying and sex take over and do things right. At twenty-nine, she heads back to freshman year of college, with a catch.

Pretending she's nineteen with a new roommate and full class schedule is easy. When she meets her shy, sexy and seven-years-younger RA Carter, following her self-imposed sobriety and celibacy rules is proving to be anything but.

A senior enduring years of regret, Carter is more than ready to graduate. He’s anxious to move on from the party his freshman year where he witnessed his frat brothers about to commit a sexual assault. Instead of doing the right thing and stepping in, he looked the other way and left. His guilt has made for a lonely four years.

When he meets the new freshman on his floor, spunky and confident Kate, he wonders if his time as an outcast has finally come to an end.

Kate and Carter’s growing friendship and undeniable attraction make it harder to hide the demons from their respective pasts. But when their secrets are finally revealed, will their chance at starting over together still be there?

My Thoughts

When I first read the synopsis of Again, I was excited that it was a story about second chances (those are some of my favorites) and I wanted to see how Kate was going to pull off the charade of being a nineteen year old college freshman when she was twenty-nine. Just throw on some tights and boots and she will fit right in! Aside from her young appearance, she doesn't act like a twenty-nine year old would (or should?), and there were many times that I forgot she was supposed to be twenty-nine, so she convinced me!

What I love so much about Again are the characters. Each one is unique and interesting in their own way. While the main story is about Kate and Carter, their friends and roommates, Dawn, Tristan, and Veronica, have their own stories and we get to know them on more that just a surface level. Given that Again is not a long novel (only 252 pages), to be able to have such well developed supporting characters is a testament to the author's writing.

Another thing I love about Again is how the characters are realistically vulnerable. They make decisions that aren't always for the best. Kate and Carter are not just flawed, they are real. They have hang-ups, doubts, and moments (or years) of self-loathing, but they also have moments of self-awareness and are forgiving of themselves and others. More than anything though, Kate and Carter, through all their ups and downs, let readers understand and accept that we are all just works in progress. 

Again addresses a topic that I've yet to encounter in many books and that is the passive bystander. Carter is witness to the moments leading up to an assault and instead of trying to stop it from happening, he walks away. I wouldn't go as far as saying that this is an "issue book" but it does open up the lines for a much needed dialogue.*

Whether readers are just now discovering Lisa Burstein through her self-published debut or they are devoted fans who seek out her books (like I do), Again will leave them begging for more. I loved it so much, it's a book I want all of my friends to read. I've already purchased and gifted copies to five of them (and convinced a few others to read it too)!

*The day after I finished Again, the university where I am employed sent out a notice for "Bystander Intervention Training." I don't think this is a coincidence, but an acknowledgment that the time has come for us to accept the responsibility for the safety of others.

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from Wordsmith Publicity in exchange for my honest review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. I have also purchased a final copy of this title for my personal library. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

About Lisa Burstein
Lisa Burstein is the author of the Young Adult Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie, and the New Adult Novels & Novellas: Sneaking Candy, The Next Forever & The Possibility of Us. She is also a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 Young Adult Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Again is her self-publishing debut.

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