“If you could go back and do London all over again, knowing everything you know now, would you do it?”
– Christine Riccio
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Received ARC in a trade from OwlCrate B/S/T
Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.
I read an ARC of this book right before it was released in May but was having a hard time reconciling how I felt about it to do an actual review. I honestly probably never would’ve picked this book up if it weren’t the first Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick. I have never heard of Christine Riccio and had no clue she was a booktuber until I looked at reviews after reading this. That being said I pictured the main character Shane as Christine, which was one of the main complaints reviewers had. Keep in mind I had no idea who Riccio was so it was odd to find myself not seeing Shanes’ life or her distinct voice telling the story but Riccio’s.
Overall I was less than impressed. I thought I was getting a book about a girl who was going to do a study abroad program to reinvent herself away from her controlling family and finally follow her dreams. Instead I got a weird magical twist halfway through that just felt kind of forced and out of the blue. There were no real signs of magic until that point so I was super confused. The book was broken into two halves; before the magic and after. So for the whole first half of the book I kept waiting for Shane to take control of her life and make the changes she so desperately wanted and to put herself out there like the synopsis promised, but it just wasn’t happening. Her flatmates seemed like generally cool and fun people who wanted to hang out with her but she just isolated herself; not much of a re-do.
It also sucked how much Shane was wrapped up in herself. She didn’t know her supposed best friends real name, lost contact with her cousin because he didn’t fit her family’s ideal mold, strung her bf along for years with no real feelings for him, and then pined for Pilot when he had a gf and even after not seeing him for years. It was just an odd combination. It wasn’t until the magical twist that kicked-off part two that not only did the pace and plot kind of pick up, but Shane started being more of a fun character to follow.
One of my favorite things about the book was getting to read about all the destinations in Europe. I just went last year so it was really cool to read all about the places I’d visited along with some new sights. The descriptions were spot on and gave me the travel bug. Riccio really made the most out of these scenes and it’s one of the reasons why I finished this book.
The final topic I want to touch on is Shane’s family. Her dad came across as controlling and verbally abusive and Shane just kind of took it and let that control her life. I get it’s a hard situation and I am in no way victim blaming. I was glad for her ending, but wish her parents hadn’t been there for it. They didn’t deserve to be from how they treated her after she decided to follow her dreams, but I guess good for her for taking the high road.