My Best Everything Review
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It won’t be long until summer is here—a time for summer adventures and summer loves. In author Sarah Tomp’s young adult debut, My Best Everything, a small-town teen looks back on the desperation that led her to both illegal activity and an unexpected but life-changing romance.

The story takes place during Louisa “Lulu” Mendez’s last summer in Dale, Virginia. Lulu is counting down the days until she leaves the too-tiny mountain town and starts college. But when her father announces that they no longer have the money for her tuition, Lulu is forced to think of a backup plan.

At a party one night, straight-laced Lulu decides that her only hope is to spend the summer making moonshine. She even finds a still—but she has no idea what to do with it. So she and her friends turn to Mason Malone, a recovering alcoholic with a seriously troubled past. And as Mason helps Lulu raise the money to get out of town, their relationship makes her question her decision to leave.

This Appalachian love story isn’t the typical teen romance. While there’s really nothing new about the story of a good girl falling in love with a bad boy with a heart of gold, the mountain setting and the characters’ illegal bond make it refreshingly different.

Dale is a small, sleepy town where everyone knows everyone else’s business—or at least the gossiped version of everyone else’s business. It’s also a town where not much happens—where kids Lulu’s age are either planning to settle down (like her best friend, Roni) or planning to get away—yet it’s populated by its own kinds of fascinating characters.

The moonshining business, meanwhile, isn’t the plan of a trouble-making teen. It’s a carefully-calculated money-making scheme, devised by a smart but desperate young woman who never misses Mass—and who never even tried a sip of alcohol until after high school graduation. It’s a risky proposition that gives the story just a hint of danger—though it isn’t as suspenseful as readers might expect.

From the very beginning, though, there’s something bittersweet about Lulu’s story. She’s determined to get as far away from home as possible—to walk away and never look back. And that gives her story of summer love a melancholy tone—because her relationship with Mason seems doomed from the start. And the fact that it’s told from a second person point of view—like a letter written she’s writing as she looks back on their summer together—gives it an even more distant feel.

After a while, then, that melancholy tone makes the story drag. And, in the end, it’s an interesting story that goes on too long, taunting readers with hints and mysteries that seem a little too drawn out.

My Best Everything is an honest love story—a bittersweet novel about first loves and the impulsiveness of youth. The characters and their circumstances are sure to draw readers in, but instead of a gripping story of romance and illegal activity, it’s about as sleepy as a summer afternoon.

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