Thank you to Little, Brown and my local public library for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha (listed in alphabetical order out of fairness) have been friends since kindergarten. Now they're in their senior year, facing their biggest fears about growing up and growing apart. But there's more than just college on the horizon. One of these girls is destined to become the president of the United States. The mystery, of course, is which girl gets the gig.
Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who's secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who's got everything figured out...except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it's Jordan, the group's resident journalist, who knows she's ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don't overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.
This is the story of four best friends who have one another's backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success--proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything... even a seat in the Oval Office.
I am convinced that Sarah Watson brings the same warm energy to each of her projects, and I eagerly await the next one. Most Likely is her debut novel, but it shares the same focus on female friendship, advocacy, and fun that made The Bold Type—her hit TV show—a fan favorite. Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha “(listed in alphabetical order for fairness)” (a quirk I love) remind me so much of Kat, Jane, and Sullivan in a delightful way.
The friendship between the girls is the crux of the novel, which shifts perspective often to portray each of them. This is to great advantage, and they were all well-developed and distinct characters. I could see the similarities in the group dynamic between Most Likely and The Bold Type, so if you’re a fan of one, you’ll enjoy the other. I think Watson has a unique approach to developing bonds between friends, so that even though I did have a favorite character (Ava), the whole group dynamic made a mark on my reading experience.
All of these girls come together in a truly heartwarming way to support each other, even when it might hurt. They deal with the fact that life doesn’t come equally to all of them, and manage to rise above deep challenges. I love it. Girls supporting girls is exactly what we need, and Watson nails it. The blurb says it all: “great friendships can help young women achieve anything… even a seat in the Oval Office.”
They all make mistakes, some smaller than others, but they’re there to lift each other up with forgiveness and lessons for the next time. It’s so great to see that go unchallenged in a novel. I’m glad Most Likely takes this friendship as a constant positive, rather than something that’s up in the air. Yeah, I’m spoiling that. I think readers need to know going in that this novel doesn’t twist friendship, and that even when these girls fight, or something’s unequal between them, they know they’ve been friends since the 9th of August before they started kindergarten, and that bond's not going anywhere. Most Likely is a novel about friendship, but it’s about the joys of having best friends, not the struggle.
The backdrop for the whole novel is set by the prologue, which introduces one of the girls and her husband right before her inauguration ceremony as President of the United States. The only information given is the (admittedly unique) last name of the husband. This aspect kept me guessing throughout the whole novel, because each of the girls had moments in which I could clearly see them as being the “I” voice in that prologue. Given more effort, I probably could have guessed which one of them became President, but as it is, I was happy just going along for the ride. The reader only knows that one of the girls is going to end up married to a man with that last name, and the story unfolds from there. This was a fun way to frame the novel, and kept me on the hook because I knew all would be revealed in the end, and I wanted to get there! I was so curious in the beginning about Madam future President’s identity, but as I kept reading, I wondered more and more about the path she’d take to get there, no matter which girl it was.
Most Likely also does a deep dive into contemporary concerns, specifically disability advocacy and classism. CJ learns about bias and how to channel her activism energy when she starts to volunteer at an after school sports program for kids using wheelchairs, and all of the girls work together to fight a neighborhood park being razed for an office building while dealing with judgment (inside the group and outside) against the surrounding neighborhood, which is seen as “less than” because its residents aren’t wealthy.
Overall, Most Likely is a delightful debut novel involving the power of female friendship and local activism, that has more than earned its place on your shelf. 4/5 stars. Watch out for Sarah Watson: first The Bold Type, and now Most Likely—she’s on a roll. If it wasn’t clear, I’m an avid fan, and can’t wait to see what she does next!
I must say, there aren't a lot of YA books with orange covers, so I'd welcome suggestions in the comments!
Happy Turkey week everyone! Hope all of my US readers are big into preparations, and all those international folks looking at us aren't too surprised by our historically inaccurate eccentricities. I myself am creating portions of my family's dinner, including a citrus roast turkey and my signature fudge.
Last Thursday I introduced a new recommendation series, which is my Book Cover Color recs, starting with red! Red is such a bright color on books, and also conveys a mood of holiday warmth that I feel is appropriate for coming months. Check back soon for another one, dear readers, and have a wonderful holiday!
November has well and truly smashed me in the face with a brick. It's been a slow month for pretty much everything: reading, blogging, and bookstagram. I've got some time off for Thanksgiving, which I hope will give me some more time to work on passion projects.
Upcoming reviews include: My Real Name is Hanna, The Ghost Network: Activate, House of Salt and Sorrow, The Grace Year, I'm Not Dying With You Tonight, and Reverie. Honestly, I can't say when I'll be done with all of them, but I wanted to share my plans here to give some air of accountability.
As for my bookstagram, I'm thinking it's time for me to find a space with lots of natural light and just go to town on switching up my style. I've been stuck in a rut for a while, and I think I want to do away with minimalism and flatlays! As much as I love my fairylight stars, they don't really play well with The Algorithm. If you have any ideas, or an aesthetic you'd like to see more of, drop me a line!
I'm back! And I have a fun blog tour post to share today, with my review of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood. You can follow along here to see reviews and features by other bloggers, and scroll to the bottom to read my review and enter a great giveaway as well.
The Book and its Author
The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.
Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona.
Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing. Nothing But Sky, a 2018 Junior Library Guild selection, is her first novel.
Thank you to Flux and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
An inspiring historical fiction novel about a girl’s exploration of 1936 San Francisco’s medical community, Across a Broken Shore is a great read for those who, like me, enjoy reading about women in STEM.
This novel was very character driven, and I enjoyed reading from Willa’s perspective. Her curiosity and drive to help her community was so honest and open-hearted. She recognized the prejudices against women in her time, and although she wanted to meet her family’s expectations, she also had no qualms about being ambitious and dedicated. Willa’s large family (four brothers, two parents) were also featured, and they each had distinct personalities and reflections on Willa’s role in the family, something that she considered often: how her family seemed to speak over her and turn her into their perception of who she should be. By meeting and working with Dr. Katherine Winston, Willa finds a place away from her home where she can make whatever she wants of herself.
A central part of the story revolves around the doctor that Willa shadows, Dr. Winston. I loved the development of their relationship, which I felt had a very natural progression. Dr. Winston was so encouraging to Willa, and taught her about the role a doctor plays in the community as well as the details of medical procedures. Women supporting and teaching younger women is a particularly special plot thread to me. I think the importance of generational recognition and sharing of knowledge can be represented in so many ways, and I’m glad that Trueblood made it a key aspect of this novel.
The main conflict for Willa was her struggle to balance her family’s dream that she take her vows as a nun, and her own desire to learn medicine and become a doctor. She values her religion strongly, and cares deeply for her family, but is also feeling massive guilt because many generations of MacCarthy women have become nuns. As the only girl in her family, she is expected to do the same, but her wish for education wars with her sense of familial obligation. Willa is admirably dedicated to her family, but we can see equal joy when she’s learning from Dr. Winston and seeing another path she could take.
I haven’t read many historical fiction books set during the Depression in the US, so the world-building in this novel was interesting for me. I liked that Willa’s story coincided with the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, tying her to a major American landmark. Through the novel, we got to read about the difficulties of building the bridge, and the risks the workers took to earn a living for their families. We also got to see a Hooverville in the city, which emphasized the extreme poverty felt by many during the Great Depression. Willa’s view of the Hooverville was unique in perspective because she didn’t view herself as well off, especially in comparison to some girls she knew, but gained new appreciation for her family's pub and livelihood once she saw how little other families had to live on. This strengthened her desire to aid her community as well, by checking up on families who needed medical attention, and bringing food to a couple of kids she’d met earlier.
There was also a sweet romance in the novel, between Willa and a bridge worker she meets. They were so cute, and I’m glad their relationship developed in the story, but I’m also glad that Willa’s journey didn’t begin to revolve around the boy.
My only problem is that at times, the plot felt repetitive. By this I mean that since most of the conflict in the novel was Willa’s choice between her two possible futures, she tended to go back and forth in her convictions every couple of chapters. There are other events in the novel, but a significant amount of page time is dedicated to Willa changing her opinion about being a doctor or being a nun. I wish her line of thinking had been a bit more linear. There’s definitely a place for indecisive characters, but in other regards Willa did not strike me as such, so I found this aspect confusing.
All in all, 4/5 stars! I am pleased to recommend Across a Broken Shore to any historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a notable title (and one that pops up often here!) featuring a girl exploring science in the early 20th century. Calpurnia Tate is a middle-grade novel, so perhaps readers who picked it up a couple of years ago might like to revisit similar themes in Across a Broken Shore.
Whoop! I made it through my tech week! I had so much fun and so much stress at the same time, and now I'm trying to get my life back on track. This week's theme is crushing guilt! I've been putting off reviews for MONTHS of several ARCs I've been lucky to receive, and between now and Thanksgiving my goal is to review all of them. This will probably require rereads, but I'm committing. How's your week going? What are you reading?
As it turns out, my tech week has incapacitated me more than I originally thought it would! Yay! I'm having the longest days, and then I've got tons of work on top of that. Luckily for me, I read so much in September and early October that my Goodreads challenge (to which i am strictly adherent) won't suffer. I'm currently ahead 6 books, which makes up for my week of non-reading.
That being said, when I can steal a few minutes I plan to start reading Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo, which I've heard is an adorable contemporary romance centering a K-pop star and a journalist. I read her first book, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, and found it "funny, lighthearted, and romantic" according to my Goodreads review. I'm hoping this new novel proves to be more of the same.
Next week, when I have more time, my goal is to finish Ninth House. I want to give myself time to sink into the novel, because I've been talking about it pretty much since September. Every night, I stare longingly at its spine, but I've promised myself not to open it again until I can properly dedicate a few hours to the New Haven landscape.
That's all for now, but I promise to return next week with my review of The Ghost Network, and a new blog tour post & review! I haven't forgotten!
Hey y'all, it's... Tech Week! I'm going to be a little absent this week because I'm currently involved in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'm working costumes, so lots and lots of wig work as well as garments. It's a lot of fun seeing the production come together, but it means so many long nights.
I have one review for you this week, and it's long long overdue. The wonderful folks at Andrews McMeel sent me a copy of The Ghost Network: Activate this past spring, and I've been terrible at getting down to it and writing my reviews. So that's on deck, but other than that I'm gone until next week. Hope you all have happy Tuesdays and good weeks!
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.