SPoLaFS has some really great marketing—the cover, the plot summary, all of that. I was thinking this would be Before Sunrise in novel form, but on an airplane (if you’re looking for a Before Sunrise-type read, check out Graffiti Moon, which I highly recommend). Because, you know, Before Sunrise is amazing.
Unfortunately, fairly or unfairly, those expectations weren’t met for me. And, to frustrate me further, there is a very sizable storyline about Hadley, the main character, and her father (a straight up cheater, who ran off with a woman he met while serving as a visiting instructor in England) that did not sit well with me and was far too tidily wrapped up.
The first 50 percent or so of SPoLaFS was delightful, really.
I loved the main character’s good humor, the dynamics between she and Oliver—it was all very charming (yay!). So much so, that I would have loved the entire novel to be about the flight. For, for that portion of our journey, I’d give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, if we were to have some sort of scientific rating system here on CEFS.
(What, what? Did I just imply that Laura’s FNL Character Rating System is “unscientific”?!)
There’s some incredibly fun dialog (this is written in third-person, a departure from much of the popular contemporary YA) in the first half that keeps the story moving along at a nice clip,
People who meet in airports are seventy-two percent more likely to fall for each other than people who meet anywhere else.
However, the second half takes place in England, and it deals with Big Family Issues.
Now, I have no problems with novels about Big Family Issues (ie, I just read and recommended Bittersweet, which is very much about Big Family Issues), but the resolution to these Big Family Issues takes place in a very abbreviated timeframe and I had a very hard time believing that they should have been resolved at all.
As a result, this book falls into a common trap in YA lit, in which the young person is expected to forgive the Parent Who Did a Bad Thing, even when they’re not deserving of it. The more I’ve thought about this in the days since I finished the novel, the more this (fairly sizable) portion of the novel bother me. This section of the book would get maybe 2-ish stars from me, if we were to employ a highly scientific rating system here.
I do think that its intended audience (teens, especially those on the younger side of things) will gobble this book up and enjoy it to pieces. Recommended as a light, easy read, but perhaps not for pickier adult YA readers.
If I were borrowing from Laura’s Highly Scientific FNL Character Rating System, I’d give SPoLaFS a solid Lyla—it served its purpose, but grated on me nevertheless.
I was, however, intrigued enough by Smith’s writing skill to add The Comeback Season to my to-read shelf (in my continued quest to find a good YA sports novel).