Friday, December 4, 2015

Did I Mention I Love You? by Estelle Maskame

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When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler?

Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been in a reading slump of sorts, the kind where it’s hard to get into a book so it takes me two or three times as long to get through one rather than my normal day or two. Thanks to Did I Mention I Love You? the is slump over! 

Eden is every bit the bitter daughter who’s so angry at her father for walking out on her and her mother years ago. Now he invites her to stay with him and his new family in LA for the summer to possibly reconnect. She's not yet at that point where she can forgive him. I got why she was upset and had every right to be but I also thought she was being a brat at times. I mean, come on. She's there for the summer, give the guy a chance before completely shutting him out. When she meets Tyler, the oldest of her three step-siblings, he’s not welcoming or civil. He’s downright nasty and hostile towards her. If I thought Eden was bitter, Tyler is 10 times worse. He has attitude, gets in trouble with the law, he’s into illegal things and he’s in a dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend.

Poor Eden is stuck in this mess having to make the most of the less than ideal situation. Thankfully, she’s making some friends even if this circle of friends includes Tyler. Their constant partying is different from what she’s used to at home, however, she’d rather be goaded into doing that than having to stay home and make nice with her dad. The time with them provides ample opportunity for her to study Tyler’s idiosyncratic behavior and abrasive personality. She studies his relationship with his brothers, his mother and his girlfriend. She knows there’s something that’s fueling his need for the hard partying and reckless conduct. The harder she looks, the more she finds herself falling for someone that she absolutely, most definitely should not fall in love with.

DIMILY pushed my wiggy button many times. It’s not just the fact that they’re step-siblings so any kind of attraction between them is both hopeless and impractical. It’s also that Tyler is a mess and for Eden to even remotely consider anything with him is simply bad judgment. The guy needs an intervention, not a distraction as Tyler likes to label Eden. For him, a distraction is a welcome relief from what’s ailing him but it’s unfair to put that kind of expectation on her. I think it’s a testament to Maskame’s writing that despite their imperfections and at-times deplorable actions, I care about these two and want so many things for them. I want Tyler to get better, I want Eden and her father to mend their relationship, and yes, I even want Tyler and Eden to find happiness together.

Without realizing it, I was sucked into DIMYILY. I was genuinely surprised to discover that I'd become so emotionally invested in Eden and Tyler. I have no idea when it happened, just that I am. I do like that Maskame doesn’t give them a clean resolution and that they may still be screwing up but they’re doing the best they can under the circumstances. These are flawed, complicated and troubled young people for whom I want better futures. I hadn't realized this was a trilogy until I'd finished it and now I'm beside myself waiting for the sequel!

~ Bel

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