* * * 1/2
Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s.
Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim...always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love
Wren and Ally will do anything to spend the school year together. So when Ally’s family moves away from
Wren’s parents allow her to switch schools so that she can attend with Ally. Ally, with her sights set on the cheerleading
team and a new boyfriend, is determined to be one of the popular kids. Wren,
other than being determined to be involved in theater, took a much more laid
back approach to her new high school. Williamsport High School
The outcome in this scenario is pretty predictable. Ally does not make the cheerleading team. And not only does she not get the boyfriend, the boy she likes seems much more interested in Wren. What isn’t predictable is Wren and Tim’s relationship. Yes Wren is attracted to Tim. And yes, she might be willing to have a relationship even though her best friend has a crush on him. But Tim unexpectedly confesses a secret to Wren and in her effort to help Tim and keep his secret, she and Tim become inseparable. Ally doesn’t believe they are not dating and drops Wren like a hot potato. And because Wren has promised not to tell anyone Tim’s secret, she is unable to explain to Ally why she and Tim have become so close.
On top of the devastation of losing a best friend and gaining a new one that is emotionally struggling, Wren is having issues at home. Her parents have lost funding for their horse rescue which means they will likely need to sell the farm that has been in her father’s family for generations. That means giving up not only the home she loves but also the horses. One of which Wren is particularly close to.
In the end, Wren has to learn to handle the difficulties life keeps dumping on her while still staying true to herself, her friends and her family.
My only complaint is that I found the title of this book misleading. I did not feel the primary focus of the novel was Wren’s relationship with Tim. Yes that was one of the things Wren is struggling with in this book. But it’s not her only struggle. The struggle with her parents and losing their home is just as prominent in this story as her relationship with her friends. This is a story about a girl experiencing many struggles. Some completely normal for a sixteen year old high school student. Some not.
As is usually the case with books I enjoy, what I loved most were the characters. They weren’t always particularly likable but they were such honest portrayals of human imperfection that it was hard to not love them anyway. Wren is only sixteen and the author portrays her voice perfectly. That blend of young teen on the verge of becoming an adult is both pretentious and awkward. But in the most engaging way. And even though the story is told in the first person, Wren’s voice is powerful and eloquent enough to allow the reader to know the secondary characters. The secondary characters I found to be the strongest were Ally, Tim and Wren’s mom. Which make sense as those were the people that were closest to Wren.
If you are looking for a lot of romance this may not be for you. BUT …f you are looking for a thoughtful YA novel about friendship, family and love then I definitely recommend The Boy I Love.