I will admit, sometimes my Amazon Fire surprises me, and I find myself gravitating to the e-reader over the novels that line my bookshelves. After reading “Wild At Heart,” the Kindle app suggested other K.A. Tucker books that I might enjoy. I noticed that “Be The Girl” was free (included in my Kindle Unlimited membership) and after quickly scrolling through reviews on Goodreads, I downloaded the book.
Aria Jones is starting over: At fifteen years old, she and her mother have shed their old life and are looking to begin anew, hundreds of miles from home. Uncle Merv’s house is outdated but serves as a great project for Aria’s mother- After Aunt Connie passed away, nothing was maintained properly. The neighbors are wonderful and gracious, especially Emmett Hartford, who seems like a total high school heartthrob. He offers to drive Aria to school, encourages her to join the track team, and just seems to make every day brighter and more manageable than the days of her past life. But Emmett has a girlfriend who does not like this new addition to the student body, especially once Aria learns that she’s not as wholesome as she lets on. A vindictive rivalry forms and causes the ground beneath Aria to shake- Some secrets were meant to stay in the past and Emmett’s sweetheart seems determined to expose Aria’s ugly truths.
K.A. Tucker, I am learning, is great at creating stark opposition. Alaska and Toronto backdrops, Instagram Queen and Rural, Unkempt pilots… budding teenage romances and seething hatred, cruel behaviors… The author knows how to balance black and white well. In “Be The Girl,” Aria is determined to not let her past decisions define her and Emmett Hartford is the answer; he and his family help her become the best version of herself. But sometimes adversity comes back around to test new resilience… and Aria lets the reader in on her inner dialogue. We are able to run right beside her as she chases the light, no matter how determined the darkness is to make her stumble and fall.
Final Score: 3.5 I thought that this storyline was good: It definitely shed light on some of the realities faced in modern-day society in regard to cyber-bullying, just how difficult it is to fit in and be accepted by others. The characters were well described and the budding romance between Aria and Emmett was well-crafted, full of raw adoration and teenage angst. The book reminded me of “Eleanor & Park,” to a degree, where two teenagers gravitate toward each other despite unlikely circumstances, challenge the odds and others who doubt any sort of relationship longevity. In summary, this served as an easy read and although it wasn’t as nearly as captivating as “The Simple Wild,” I still stayed up until 3:00AM turning the pages. I have now read three books of K.A. Tucker in the past 30 days, and I am becoming a huge fan of her work.
BEST FOR: Those who love teenage romance books- This one has a controversial vulnerability to it. Although Emmett and Aria’s relationship is sweet, it’s anything but simple.
NOT GOOD FOR: Those who have read “The Simple Wild” and are looking for something similar. It’s not, but definitely has its own shining moments, and with even more important lessons to be highlighted, in my opinion. K.A. Tucker exposes bullying without censorship, making it an impactful read for everyone, not just YA enthusiasts.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: I could see Emmett and Aria voted “Homecoming King & Queen” for their athleticism, good looks, and down to earth personalities, despite many others standing by, green with envy. They also could be recognized as philanthropists, good humans who want to make the most of their everyday, for themselves and others.
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