If you’re in your 30s or older, you might remember Felicity with Keri Russell. Inspired by the show in more ways than one, this book is part of a new trend (at least I hope) in YA set in college. Read my review of Finding Felicity below!
To be published on March 20, 2018 by Simon and Schuster
Source: eARC for review from the publisher
Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with. But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum. She has to prove she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy. Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge.
My review of Finding Felicity:
While I thought this book had a lot of strengths, I also think it was trying to be a lot of things at once. It’s an homage to the show, a story about the transition to college, and the story of a girl having some very real social (and perhaps psychological) issues.
As the synopsis describes, Caroline had a tough time after her parents’ divorce and a move. She struggled to make friends and started describing imaginary friends to her mom, friend she’d borrowed out of the 90s show Felicity. But then her mom plans a surprise graduation party. Uh-oh!
Maybe you’re like: “Felicity what?” Okay. It’s a 90s show about a shy, somewhat socially awkward girl who, after her high school graduation, follows this guy to NYU based on the fact that he wrote “I wish I’d gotten to know you better” in her yearbook. Then she proceeds on a whole journey of self-discovery.
But back to Finding Felicity. After the graduation party fiasco, Caroline’s mom forces her see a therapist who clears her to go away to college, not knowing that — like Felicity — Caroline is also following a guy she has a crush on to a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Whoops!
So that’s a lot – the show, Caroline’s past social issues, her conflict with her mom, and then her new journey to college.
First off, I am THRILLED to see more YA set in college.
It makes SO much sense. Popular wisdom about teen readers says they “read up” in age. Thus, many YA readers who are 15 and older often aren’t all that excited to read about other 15 and 16 year olds. (Except that many YA 15 and 16 year-old characters act about 30, but that’s a topic for another post.) Yes, there’s NA, but most of that is clearly targeted toward readers who want a very specific type of story focused on sex and angst (also for another post.)
Secondly, I know from much personal experience that the whole “reinvent yourself in college” IS a thing.
At first I thought Caroline’s adjustment to college, given her extremely introverted nature and prior difficulty making friends, was too easy. Fortunately, the book soon gives her a bunch of bumps in the road. I thought many of the themes and aspects of this book felt realistic – the desire for reinvention, college roommate and friendship and romance problems, navigating drinking and sex.
Here are my other random thoughts in no particular order:
This is definitely a quieter, more contemplative and less plot-heavy book.
If you’re a huge Felicity fan, the book didn’t have a ton to do with the show except borrowing the premise of following a guy to college, and showing a girl adapting to college. (But if you have zero familiarity with Felicity, that could be a positive.)
My recommendation: definitely try this if, like me, you’re excited about YA set in college.