Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: What You Always Wanted by Kristin Rae

By 8:00 AM , , , ,

What You Always Wanted (If Only... #8)
     by: Kristin Rae

Publication Date: March 29. 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Physical ARC received via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 320 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4/5 stars

If Only . . . he was the boy she's been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!

Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she's struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family--but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball--not dance--is Jesse's passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

When I saw this book was about a theater girl falling for a baseball player, I felt like my whole high school existence came hurtling back to me. Especially since THIS WAS ME. I was the high school theater girl (who totally did the musical Crazy For You junior year) and I dated a baseball player. Granted, I wasn't obsessed with Gene Kelly and my then boyfriend definitely had NO former talent as a dancer. Hah. I saw a lot of myself in Maddie though and not just the theater connection. I also had my head in the clouds at times and wished life were more like the movies.
This was definitely a cute, fun read. I really enjoyed Maddie's character, even though she could be a bit pushy at times with Jesse, but I think her heart was in the right place.  I really like the way their relationship played out because Maddie had an important lesson to learn about accepting and loving someone for who they are and not who you want them or think they could be. Jesse was a sweetheart and I really enjoyed him for the most part. The way that he would clam up on her sometimes irritated me a bit, but he's a guy and most guys don't want to sit around and talk about their feelings. So I got that. I adored them together, as the best friend's brother trope is always a favorite of mine. Even though he could be a little cold at times, he made up for it with some super sweet scenes. What he did for her birthday absolutely melted my heart and the end was so perfect for them.
Angela, Jesse's sister and Maddie's first friend in Texas, was a lot of fun too and I really like how she embraced Maddie as a friend from the beginning. Moving is a difficult adjustment, so it was nice to see the two bond so quickly. I think it would be super fun to see an Angela/Red book that was set during the same time as this one. (Hint, hint!)
I really like how present both Maddie and Jesse's families are in this book as well. I never get tired of seeing it in young adult novels and I felt their relationships were incredibly important to their characterization and growth. Maddie, especially, is dealing with a lot of transitions and while she doesn't always act the most mature in light of those, she does recognize that her parents love her and she is an important part of the family, no matter how it changes.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed being whisked back to my high school years with Maddie and her family and friends. Having enjoyed Kristin Rae's debut, Wish You Were Italian and now this one, I am definitely looking forward to reading more of hers in the future!

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  1. This sounds so adorable and reminds me a bit of High School Musical and not gonna lie I loved those movies back in the day. Awesome review!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this too, Jess! I thought it was super cute. I loved her friends and the family part of it too. And yes! I want an Angela & Red book too! That would be amazing. :)
    Great review, Jess!

  3. I totally want to read this book because when I was in high school I also loved Gene Kelly. Well, I still love him now. I wasn't a theater kid though.

    I'm really glad you enjoyed this, even if the characters did frustrate you at times.

  4. I sometimes love being whisked back to high school -- one of the things I usually want in contemporary YA! I've heard this series is so cute so I need to bit the bullet!


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