MY BEST EVERYTHING teaches YA fans that nothing spices life up like a little moonshine!
Lulu Mendez was born and raised in Dale, an uninspiring Tennessee hick town with nothing to offer her. After one more summer of working at the local salvage yard, putting up with her mostly witless peers in social situations, and dealing with her mother’s extreme anxiety disorder, Lulu plans to leave for the University of California San Diego and never look back. The plan is perfect. Lulu is even “training” for college life with her best friend Roni. But it all changes when Lulu’s father takes a bad gamble at work and can no longer afford to send her to school. Desperate for funds and running out of time, she turns to the old moonshine still at the salvage yard that she accidentally forgot to inventory.
But Lulu, Roni, and Roni’s boyfriend Bucky are not moonshiners. They don’t even know how to assemble the still. So they turn to Bucky’s 20-year-old co-worker at the local country club, Mason Malone. He went off the deep end four years ago when his girlfriend drove her car into a tree and died. Though he recovered slowly and isn’t much for deviance these days, the others know his family deals in moonshine. But making moonshine with Mason Malone isn’t as simple as assembling a still and processing some ingredients– especially not for Lulu. They may be falling for each other, but there’s also much bigger issues to worry about. Particularly Mason’s estranged family, who has caught on to Lulu’s scheme and will do anything to suppress the competition and win Mason back into their operation. Can she keep her wits about her and make enough money to leave her hopeless small town? Does she even want to leave anymore?
Though it’s about bootlegging, MY BEST EVERYTHING is one for romantics. Lulu is recounting the story to Mason in a second person narrative. It may throw some readers off, but it really highlights the bittersweet relationship that exists between them. The narrator’s whole point in retelling the story is to connect with Mason, yet it still connected me as the reader. You can learn a fair deal about moonshine from this book, but as a contemporary young adult novel, it’s much a feelings-oriented tale of friends, family, and a very unconventional path to love.
The only downside to the book was that the characters didn’t always develop as strongly as I’d hoped, leaving things to feel a little bit like a Nicholas Sparks novel at points. As a reformed alcoholic who’s turned his back on his drunken family, Mason doesn’t quite fall into the “misunderstood bad boy” trope, but he toes the line a couple times. The book advertises to fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, but doesn’t quite reach that same level of realism.
Author Sarah Tomp’s biggest achievement, however, was the epilogue. Not everyone gets a pretty packaged ending, but readers are left with a bittersweet sense of hope that whoever is left will find their own way. It’s definitely a quirky, romantic tale worth reading if you enjoy the genre!
RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
MY BEST EVERYTHING is out sale now!