Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

* * * 1/2

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a
social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

It was this adorably sweet cover that caught my eye.  There’s just something about it that set it apart. And what followed was an equally adorable story about two confused kids falling in love.

Wren just wants to break out of the rut she’s in. Everyone thinks of her as the safe, rule-follower who doesn’t rock the boat. After a particularly derisive speech from the social worker to the student body about how none of them will get into Harvard, Wren begins to think her options are seriously diminishing. She’s seen her older siblings go off to college and do well. She doesn’t think that college is in her future. Meeting Grayson adds some excitement to her life.

Grayson is even more lost than Wren.  Kicked out of the school where he was the star and ostracized by his so-called friends, he immediately notices Wren.  Well it’s hard not to notice the person who’s administering the Heimlich maneuver on you because you were performing jackass circus tricks with cocktail weenies. Sparks fly instantly and he can’t get her out of his mind. She is so unlike anything in his life at the moment.

They get off to an awkward start where they’re second-guessing their moves and constantly wondering what the other one is thinking. Whenever the point of view switches to Grayson, it becomes clear that there’s stuff from his past that he’d like to distance himself from.  His biggest problem is his former schoolmate, Luke who’s trying to reel him back in to their delinquent past. Let’s just say that it goes beyond the whole “term paper pimp”. Grayson doesn’t want to confess this part of his past to Wren and tries to keep the two separate. So not a good idea and I counted off the multiple ways in which things would swiftly go south between the two as a result of the lies and omissions.

Wren and Grayson are equally likable with their alternating perspectives adding extra substance to their characters. Wren can't resist his charm and Grayson is truly falling for her. Even when his sordid past comes to light it’s hard not to like him because he does sincerely wish to change for the better.  This isn't just about young love. It's about how they affect change in each other and the desire to strive for more than they think they're capable of. They also had plenty of moments that had me chuckling.

I was utterly smitten with The Promise of Amazing. I hope you find it just as wonderful as I did!  

~ Bel

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