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Back When You Were Easier to Love

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What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan-the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah-unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan's former-best-friend Noah.

Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy's story is ...

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Back When You Were Easier to Love

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Overview

What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan-the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah-unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan's former-best-friend Noah.

Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy's story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joy can't accept that her boyfriend, Zan, has gone to California (where she is from originally) and left her to fend for herself in boring Haven, Utah. She blames her goody-two-shoes Mormon peers for driving him away, even though both she and Zan are Mormon, too. Lurking beneath Joy's sadness and anger at everyone around her (especially Noah, Zan's "Golden Boy" best friend who won't leave her alone) Joy suspects that maybe it wasn't everybody else that drove Zan away—maybe it was her. Joy's story unfolds in short, essaylike vignettes that fill in her personal history, while leaving certain aspects of her life (like her relationship with her parents and the circumstances of their move to Haven) largely unexamined. But Smith (The Way He Lived) effectively reconstructs Zan and Joy's relationship, building tension toward the moment when Joy ultimately faces him again. Despite her vulnerability, Joy's voice is sturdy, and her articulations about loss and belief are thoughtful and often moving. Self-acceptance and both the comforts and restrictions of the Mormon religion and identity are central themes in this sweet story. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—It's the beginning of the school year, and Joy's boyfriend, Zan, has graduated early and abruptly gone to a California college without leaving her his contact information. Befuddled and still obsessed with him, she enlists the help of his friend Noah to help find her lost love and put some closure to the relationship. After a road trip to California, which concludes with an exciting zinger and a new romance, Joy gains insight into herself and learns important lessons about judging people at face value. Set in a fictional Mormon community in Utah, this is a tame romance heavily peppered with religious values; e.g., kissing is forbidden in this town. Joy's first-person narrative features flashbacks showing that the relationship was based on the couple's view of themselves as nonconformists in a town of the faithful. Joy's character is particularly well drawn—the author gives readers the perfect image of a girl who can think of nothing but her boyfriend to the detriment of her other relationships. The story moves quickly and will resonate with religious teens, those who relish the idea of being outsiders, and, for that matter, any fan of romance.—Shawna Sherman, Hayward Public Library, CA
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—It's the beginning of the school year, and Joy's boyfriend, Zan, has graduated early and abruptly gone to a California college without leaving her his contact information. Befuddled and still obsessed with him, she enlists the help of his friend Noah to help find her lost love and put some closure to the relationship. After a road trip to California, which concludes with an exciting zinger and a new romance, Joy gains insight into herself and learns important lessons about judging people at face value. Set in a fictional Mormon community in Utah, this is a tame romance heavily peppered with religious values; e.g., kissing is forbidden in this town. Joy's first-person narrative features flashbacks showing that the relationship was based on the couple's view of themselves as nonconformists in a town of the faithful. Joy's character is particularly well drawn—the author gives readers the perfect image of a girl who can think of nothing but her boyfriend to the detriment of her other relationships. The story moves quickly and will resonate with religious teens, those who relish the idea of being outsiders, and, for that matter, any fan of romance.—Shawna Sherman, Hayward Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Joy's world revolves around Zan, who is gone and whom she can't let go.Having moved to a small, utterly Mormon Utah town from Southern California, Joy found a connection with Zan, short for Alexander, that made the transition bearable.Now Zan is gone, and his best friend Noah, who had promised to keep an eye on her, is bugging her to snap out of it. Joy decides that a road trip to the college campus where Zan is a freshman will help her achieve closure and peace of mind.Only Noah is willing to accompany her—take her, actually, in his vintage SAAB 900. The romantic conclusion is safely assured. The faith that is shared by almost all the characters mingles into the narrative in an unusual and kind of quirky way. The church is never the focus, just a natural part of the environment, making it a refreshing element in an otherwise shopworn plot. Annoying as Joy is at first with her obsession with Zan, it soon becomes clear that she is an unreliable narrator, which adds intrigue. Short, present-tense chapters with some lists and almost poetic interludes interspersed keep the pages turning relatively painlessly. Light, clean and completely predictable, this charming romance has a decidedly old-fashioned feel.(Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525421993
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Emily Wing Smith lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

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    The sample is only the dumb publishing info! Not cool :( the only reasin i gave this one star is cause i cant put zero

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