BY: Kay Honeyman
PUBLISHED: September 27th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
PURCHASED: Kindle E-book purchased on Amazon, Dec 2016
GENRES: YA / Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Politics, Jane Austin Retelling - Emma, Football, Sports, High School
RATING: 4 STARS
I will not get involved…I will not get involved…I will not get involved…
As a congressman’s daughter in Washington, DC, Kate Hamilton always pushes to make things right. But when a scandal sends her family to Red Dirt, Texas, she decides to step back for a while. She’ll take pictures for her portfolio. She’ll volunteer at her aunt’s animal shelter. And most of all, she’ll stay out of politics (including her father’s latest election) and away from guys (especially after her ex’s betrayal).
If Kate’s political skills can be useful in Red Dirt, should she really let them go to waste? After all, her friend Ana Gomez and quarterback Kyle Stone would be a perfect match. Her dad’s campaign could benefit from a teenage perspective. The irritatingly handsome Hunter Price should learn he doesn’t know everything…When Kate’s plans backfire, she must find the soul beneath her DC spin, and risk her heart—the biggest involvement of all.
I am a die hard Austinite. So any retelling of her classic novels immediately captures my interest. Put it in front of my face and done. I'm in.
I thought Honeyman was more creative than most retellings with a more complex take on the story. She injected more ingredients into the story that somewhat deluded the original plot. That said, I felt almost all of her changes were brilliant. However, the initial pacing was very slow and there were a couple issues that dimmed what should have been a brilliant retelling. One issue that I had trouble with was introducing this revenge bent to the character Kate.
Emma was misguided at times, but the only time she was in any way intentionally rude was her remarks at the picnic. (You Austin fans know what I'm talking about...) Kate had a mean streak that wasn't part of the essential core of Emma. I felt it was a distraction in an overly packed novel. It was more of a distraction from all the other intriguing parts. But as you got to know Kate, you started to understand that her behavior was very much drilled home by her political home. Her parents are revealed to be distant and misguided. It was hard to connect with Kate for the first chunk of the book. That said, she did have a significant character development that led to an emotional connection to her. In fact, her parents seemed to have a "Come to Jesus" moment as well. I almost thought that it could have been more believable if her parents stayed self absorbed.
The secondary characters were probably my favorite characters. I didn't quite know what to make of Hunter, but I can't give away more because I feel that would be a spoiler. Her aunt was fantastic as well as her best friend.
There was a sports aspect to the book that lent another layer to the overall story. The ending definitely left room for a sequel. It was somewhat abrupt. An epilogue would have smoothed it out.
It did hold strong to the thread of Austin's Emma thinking she was right, being helpful, even when she always ended up making a social mess. Kate was the same. She did try to help, however misguided. What made her connect more to her historical inspiration was how she truly changed and became humble.
I think the book as a whole would be enjoyable to anyone fond of Austin's work. For those who love contemporary fiction, this will definitely make your day. Overall, this was a creative take on historical classic and a unique storyline all on its own.