How My Summer Went Up in Flames

( 16 )

Overview

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and ...

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How My Summer Went Up in Flames

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Overview

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a fit of rage, high school junior Rosie Catalano torches keepsakes from her relationship with her cheating boyfriend, accidentally setting fire to his car. This results in a restraining order, horrifying Rosie, her friends, and her parents, who have to pony up for a lawyer and prepare for a court date in two weeks. To keep Rosie away from Joey, Rosie’s parents agree to let her travel from New Jersey to Arizona and back with her trustworthy neighbor Matty and his geeky friends Spencer and Logan. Debut author Doktorski’s writing is full of emotion and wit; Rosie is willing to speak her mind and stand up for herself, with a beauty that comes from real curves, a real appetite, and a sassy attitude. Matty, Spencer, and Logan are all worthy romantic heroes in their own ways, and readers may have difficulty deciding who they want Rosie to end up with. Throw in a couple of excellent, loyal girlfriends—one old and one new—and the result is an entertaining road trip novel about heartbreak and starting over. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kerry Sparks, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (May)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
The metaphorical "flames of love" become all too real for seventeen-year-old Rosie when she accidentally torches her ex-boyfriend's car. Angry when Joey shows up at a party with the freshman he had been cheating on her with, Rosie throws all of her keepsakes of their relationship in a box and sets it aflame in his driveway. After the fire spreads to include his car, "good girl" Rosie finds herself facing charges and under the shadow of a temporary restraining order. What has happened to her? She hardly recognizes herself anymore. To break her of her "Joey" habit and keep her out of trouble until her court date, Rosie's parents arrange for her to ride along with boy-next-door and best-friend Matty on a nine-day, cross-country trip from New Jersey to Arizona. Matty is going with his friend Spencer to take Spencer's brother Logan to college; now, he is caretaker of Rosie, too. Boy, does he have his hands full there—at least to begin. Rosie's story of growth is detailed against the backdrop of rural, kitschy, and desert America. Her adventure is real and candid—full of teenage hormones and pop culture fascination. Although it can be hard to like Rosie at the start of her tale, by the end readers will be rooting for her to recognize her problems and find a way to overcome them. Librarians in conservative settings should be aware that this story includes incidents of underage drinking and references to teenage sex. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Rosalita Ariana Catalano is not starting off her summer vacation quite the way she imagined. Instead of having fun in the sun, she receives a temporary restraining order from Joey, her ex-boyfriend, all because she sent him a series of text messages and accidentally set his car on fire. She only wanted to know why he had cheated on her with a blond freshman. Rosie's parents decide to get her as far away from Joey as possible until her court date, so they send her off on a road trip with her neighbor, Matty, and his two friends. Rosie, much to her surprise, starts to realize that she just might be having the summer of her life. Although the premise sounds entertaining and lighthearted, the story and underdeveloped characters are formulaic and predictable. Rosie is hard to connect with and her voice seems forced. Also, her dramatic Ecuadorian mom and loud Italian dad at times come across as caricatures. And, although she does go through a transformation, resulting in the new, caring Rosie, the hot-tempered protagonist remains unconvincing right through the happy ending. Teens who like road-trip books might enjoy this story, but there are better titles out there. Give them Morgan Matson's Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (S & S, 2010) or Julie Halpern's Don't Stop Now (Feiwel & Friends, 2011) to satisfy their open-road captivation.—Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR
Kirkus Reviews
When she can't seem to stop trying to contact ex-boyfriend Joey even after a temporary restraining order, Rosie's parents decide to send her on a road trip from New Jersey to Arizona with three guys. Matty, the neighbor kid who is a year younger than Rosie and practically a member of the family, has been planning the trip with buddy Spencer, whose brother Logan wants to take his car to college. The hope is that Rosie will learn to control her impulsive nature along the way and show some maturity and thoughtfulness. The result is not particularly suspenseful or surprising. The country tunes that make up the book's soundtrack also indicate the stops along the way: Luray Caverns, Dollywood, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and Graceland. The story revs up a bit at an all-ages nightclub near Dallas, and then they move on to the Grand Canyon. A love triangle among Rosie, Logan, the hot older brother, and Matty, the boy next door, adds a level of trite, as does Avery, the incredibly rich, dedicated-to-humanity girl whom Logan wants to stop and see. Is that two love triangles? At any rate, Rosie gradually learns to think of someone besides herself and to see her ex more realistically. Country hokum with a playlist to match. (Romance. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442459397
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 302
  • Sales rank: 358,304
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski once took a cross-country road trip in a celery green Oldsmobile. She’s a freelance writer who has written articles and essays for national publications, including Cosmopolitan. She lives in New Jersey with her family and their dog, Buffy (The Squeaky Toy Slayer). How My Summer Went Up in Flames is her debut novel. Visit her at JenDoktorski.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I wasn’t always the kind of girl who wakes up on the first day of summer vacation to find herself on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order. But things got ugly when Joey, my ex, came to an end-of-the-school-year party on Friday night with his new girlfriend—the bleach-blond freshman ho bag he’d been cheating on me with. Until I saw them together, I didn’t know he and his indiscretion had become an actual item. It felt like someone had knocked all the air out of my lungs with a blunt object. What can I say? First I lost my heart. Then I lost my mind.

I stare out the screen door and watch as the patrol car drives away, my face burning with embarrassment. What if Mrs. Friedman is watching from across the street? She doesn’t miss a thing, ever. What a crappy start to a Monday morning.

“This cannot be happening,” I say.

“Rosie, you blew up your boyfriend’s car. What did you expect?” says Matty, our next-door neighbor.

“For the last time, I did not blow up Joey’s car. It caught fire!”

“What’s the difference?”

“Hello, there was no explosion. I was just burning all the stuff he gave me in his driveway.” Why doesn’t anyone understand this? I’ve spent all weekend trying to explain it. “The box wasn’t even near Joey’s car. He was standing right there. I don’t know how it happened.”

“Lighter fluid and stuffed animals. Bad combination,” Matty says.

“Shut up, Matty! I need to think.”

“The thinking ship sailed when you lit that match.”

“It was a lighter and—what are you doing in my house, anyway?” It’s like he doesn’t even pretend to go home anymore. When Matty was six, my mother offered to let him come over after school so his mom didn’t have to pay for child care. Apparently Matty thought that meant forever.

Matty extricates himself from the couch and walks toward the front door, where I’ve been rendered immobile by this latest turn of events. “Take it easy, all right? I’m not the problem, your bad temper is.”

“I don’t have a bad temper.” I look down at my purple toenails, away from Matty’s beady blue-eyed stare. “I’m passionate.”

“Call it whatever makes you feel better. I’ve grown immune to your acerbic wit and biting sarcasm, but lately it’s like you’re . . . I don’t know, hostile?”

Hostile? Where does he get hostile? Okay. Maybe I’m high-strung. I’ll give him that. But at our house, we yell when we’re happy, we yell when we’re upset, we yell when we want someone to pass the remote. It’s what we Catalanos do.

I look down at the paper in my hand. “I guess Joey must’ve called the cops.”

“Ya think?”

I feel like I’ve just done a belly flop on dry land. My parents are going to freak. They already grounded me, indefinitely, after Joey’s mom called Saturday morning to scream about the postparty car fire caused by yours truly. And now there’s a restraining order. At this point, my parents will lock me in a tower until I graduate from high school next June. For a brief second I wonder if I can keep the whole thing a secret. Yeah, right, like that’ll ever work. I couldn’t even burn a box of memories without the police getting involved. I don’t know what’s happening with me lately.

“Maybe it’s a mistake,” I say.

Matty grabs the three-page document from me. “Right. This is for the other Rosalita Ariana Catalano Joey dated, who also blew up his car.”

I cross my arms and scowl as Matty scans the page. “I’ve got to talk to him.”

“You’re to stay away from Joey’s house, his job. There’s to be no written, personal, or electronic communication with the complaining witness by you or anyone you know.” He pauses. “It actually says you are prohibited from returning to the scene of the violence.”

“I’ve got to talk to him,” I repeat.

“Have you been listening?” Matty waves the papers in my face. “Restraining order.”

“But if I can just explain—”

“Save it for your court date in two weeks.”

“What?” Court date? I snatch the papers from him and start flipping through the pages, but my eyes won’t settle on any words. Fruity Pebbles rise in my throat and I start to sweat. I suddenly want to throw something at the TV screen. The View is on—leave it to Matty. Now I have the urge to throw something at the whiny one’s head. Maybe I do have anger issues.

I hand the TRO back to Matty. “I can’t find it.”

“Right here,” he says, pointing to the correct page. “You’ve been ordered to appear before Superior Court Judge Tomlinson in Essex County, New Jersey, to address the allegations of, let’s see, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, harassment, and stalking. Stalking?”

I cover my eyes with both hands. I think I’m either going to vomit or cry. At the moment, I can’t decide which would make me feel better. I part my fingers to look at Matty. “It was only a few e-mails and texts.”

“A few?”

“And maybe I showed up at ShopRite once or twice when he was getting off work.”

“Good way to keep busy after a breakup. Hoping incarceration would fill those empty hours?” Matty says.

He looks as pained as I feel, which is why I need food. I walk into the kitchen and begin opening cabinets in search of the perfect snack to calm me down. Let’s see. Temporary restraining order . . . I bypass the pretzels and head straight for the Double Stuf Oreos. I tear open the new package, which rouses Pony, our ninety-pound Lab mix, who’d been sleeping under the kitchen’s central-air duct. I smile when he turns his head quizzically as if to say, “Did I hear food?”

“Some watchdog,” I say in the baby-talk voice I use when speaking to my pooch and for which Eddie, my brother, always makes fun of me. “Where were you ten minutes ago when the police were at the door? Cookies are a different story, huh?”

Pony saunters over to the counter and nudges my elbow with his big wet nose until I relent. Sugary foods are bad for dogs, but I can’t resist his pleading eyes. “Only one, big guy,” I say. He gently takes the Oreo and swallows it in a single gulp. Matty comes into the kitchen just as I’m about to pour myself some milk.

“I think I know how to handle this,” he says.

Matty is always trying to handle things. Most of the time, it makes me sad that he thinks he has to. I blame his absent father, not that Matty and I ever talk about him. Still, I know one of the reasons Matty likes hanging out at our house so much is that he gets to be a kid here. At sixteen, Matty is a year younger than me, the same age as my brother, and at least a foot taller than us both. When I was in middle school, Eddie and I finally stopped arguing about who Matty “belonged” to. He’s our Matty. I love him like a second brother, and unfortunately, sometimes I fight with him like he’s one too.

Lately, most of our spats are my fault. I know I’ve been impossible to be around since just after Memorial Day weekend. That’s when I went away with my family and Joey cheated on me with the freshman slut. To his credit, he told me. He begged me to forgive him. He said all they did was kiss. That it was a huge mistake, a onetime thing, blah, blah, blah. As much as I wanted to believe him, I was hurt, angry, and completely shocked. I couldn’t get over it and consequently, my entire relationship imploded. Since then, if I didn’t know me, I’d think I was a bitch too. And that’s why at this moment especially, it’s best if Matty leaves. I don’t want to cause an argument.

“I’m gonna call my girls,” I say. “Wait until they hear this.” My best friend, Lilliana, and the rest of our group will understand. I wasn’t stalking Joey—right? I honestly don’t know what I thought I was doing. Looking for evidence that Joey’s fling was a one-night stand? Hoping to find him moping around town wearing an I ROSIE T-shirt? Whatever it was, I certainly didn’t think it was illegal. If only it hadn’t culminated in an accidental car fire.

I swallow my last bite of Oreo and start dialing. Matty takes my phone from me.

“I think you need to get out of town for a while,” he says.

I grab my phone back. “I think you need to get out of my house for a while.”

“I’m serious. I’m leaving for Arizona on Saturday with Spencer and Logan. You should come.”

Okay. Here’s where my curiosity trumps my need for him to go home. “Who are Spencer and Logan?”

I know some of Matty’s friends, but not all. Matty goes to public school, the same school as my ex and his new chicken-head girlfriend. Oh, and my brother, Eddie, of course. My parents thought it was best for me to attend an all-girls Catholic high school because it’s every teenage girl’s dream to dress like a Scottish bagpipe player. All because I got busted at an eighth-grade graduation party playing seven minutes in heaven with Armand DelVecchio, who, by the way, kisses like a seal. It wasn’t even worth it.

“Spencer Davidson. We’re in robotics club together.”

“No surprise there.”

“Logan’s his older brother. He got accepted to ASU.”

“Okaay, so why’s he leaving now?”

“He has to be there for this special summer session. Logan wants his car in Tempe, so he figured he’d make a road trip out of it. Me and Spence are flying home.”

Has Matty told me all this before? Did the information get lost in my I-just-broke-up-with-my-boyfriend haze? I’m feeling a bit guilty.

“So, why did Spencer ask you to go?”

“He’s afraid to fly.”

Of course he is. So now I’m picturing the scene: me, trapped in a car with three nerds. Doubtful. “And I should go because—”

“It will keep you out of trouble for nine days. You can’t stalk anyone in New Jersey while traveling seventy-five miles per hour in a vehicle headed west.”

I pretend to think about this for a second. “Right. Sure, I’ll go.”

“Really?”

“No.”

• • •

After filling in Lilliana on the whole restraining-order ordeal, I spend the rest of the day trying to distract myself, which is what I’ve been trying to do every day since Joey and I broke up. Today, it got a lot harder. I take Pony for a long walk before attempting to read one of my romance novels. Usually I plow through them to get to the happy ending, but today, only five pages in, I toss the book aside. Lately, everything—books, song lyrics, movies, even Yankee games—reminds me of Joey.

Eventually, I settle for mindless eating and cable TV. I just want to feel normal again. I love, love, love those shows where they help women find wedding dresses. The gowns are so gorgeous, and I always seem to know which dress the bride-to-be is going to pick. That inspired me to get a part-time summer job at Something New Bridal Boutique downtown. I start next weekend and I cannot wait. I’ve got a definite knack for knowing what people look good in and think I have untapped potential for designing clothes. I smile as I remember this fashion studio drawing set I had when I was a kid. It had a light board, colored pencils, and all these traceable patterns. I spent hours mixing and matching the templates for tops and bottoms, hairdos and shoes, to create my own sketches. I kept my designs in a folder. My mom, who used to pretend to be a client, wrote ROSIE COUTURE on it for me. I wonder if I still have that folder somewhere.

Around three in the afternoon, I decide to lay out on the deck. The whole world just seems better when I’m tan. I love how my skin smells after I come in from the sun. Pony whines to come outside with me—he always follows me around when I’m home. But after five minutes, he starts panting and stands by the back door.

That’s when I remember I forgot to put on sunscreen. I get up to let him in, find a bottle in the kitchen cabinet, and return to the deck. My olive skin is immune to sunburn, but I’m paranoid about skin cancer and premature wrinkling. As soon as I open the bottle, I wish that I had risked it and done without my SPF 50. The tropical scent immediately takes me back to the first time I saw Joey. He was standing on the boardwalk near the pirate-themed mini-golf course. It was September, a warm Indian summer day, and me and Lilliana’d crammed in one last beach day. I was balancing on one foot, dusting the sand off my toes so I could put my flip-flop back on, when I spotted him. He caught me staring, but I never even had a chance to be embarrassed.

“I’ve seen you before,” he said. I couldn’t believe this beautiful boy was talking to me. “Your brother goes to Chestnutville High, doesn’t he?” I was totally self-conscious because my long hair was all frizzy after a day of sun and salt water. I tried to casually smooth it down while I talked to him, but then he reached over and brushed a stray ringlet away from my eye, like he was already used to invading my personal space, and said: “I love your curls.”

A week later, we were a couple.

I think about our first date a lot, remembering how I watched from my bedroom window as he pulled into the driveway. I had been ready for an hour, but I figured I’d let Joey ring the bell and sweat out the first meeting with my family before I went downstairs. If he was going to be a keeper, my family needed to like him and he needed to like my family.

I stood on the upstairs landing, out of sight, and listened to the introductions, followed by easy laughter when my brother said, “There’s still time to back out, man. I don’t think Rosie knows you’re here.” When I walked down the stairs a few seconds later wearing a yellow silk tank top that contrasted nicely with my dark eyes and hair (I had worn it curly for him), I could tell he had no intention of bailing. He was all in. Neither of us said a word, but we were both smiling like it was yearbook picture day. People think those time-stands-still moments only happen in movies. They don’t. It sounds cheesy, but everyone else just faded away and it felt like we were alone.

“Do you two know each other?” my dad said, breaking the spell. Everyone laughed and then we walked out the door.

As Joey opened the car door for me, he leaned down and whispered in my ear: “You’re even prettier than I remembered.” A chill rippled from my neck and spread across my body.

Before my date, Matty and Eddie did try to warn me that Joey had a love-’em-and-leave-’em rep around school. But that night, Joey seemed more like an anxious little boy than some arrogant Casanova. He asked me a ton of questions and wanted to know everything about me. It was like I really, really mattered. And he seemed so worried about whether or not I was enjoying myself. I lost count of how many times he asked if my tortellini with pesto sauce was any good. When he spilled his water and his entire face turned red, my heart went out to him. I was making him nervous. Me. I didn’t care what Eddie and Matty said about how Joey treated girls in the past. I could tell I was going to be different.

Ha! What a joke. I put the cap back on my sunscreen, lie down, and close my eyes. Forget it. I already got burned.

• • •

At five o’clock, I change back into shorts and a tank top and brace myself for what’s coming. At dinner, the tiny lift I got from a healthy dose of vitamin D is gone. Probably because we’re having pork cutlets and salad with a heated family discussion about criminal mischief on the side.

“Say that again, Rosie,” Mom says. “It sounded like you said ‘restraining order.’”

“I did. ‘Temporary restraining order.’”

I hold out the document halfheartedly. My mother takes it from me, stares at it, closes her eyes, and passes it to my father.

“Oh, Dios mío,” Mom says. “Are you trying to kill your father and me? This business with Joey keeps getting worse.”

Here we go with the Spanglish. Worrying always transforms my mom into George Lopez. Predictably, the veins in my dad’s neck bulge out as he reads the restraining order. Let’s hope he doesn’t transform into the Incredible Hulk.

“I don’t know you anymore,” Dad says. He’s got the papers rolled up and waves them around like a light saber. “My daughter would never do these things.”

Well, your daughter did, apparently, says the Rosie in my head. He’s right, though. I hate to disappoint my dad. I pick at my food as he gets up and starts pacing. I waited until after he ate to tell everyone. Low blood sugar tends to fuel my father’s anger. My mother just rubs her temples. Pony, who had been under the table waiting for scraps, slinks out of the room. Smart dog.

“I’d better not find out you slept with this boy,” my father shouts.

“Oh my God, Dad! You did not just say that.” I cover my ears. Eddie looks mortified. So does Mom.

That’s when Matty materializes at the back door. I spot him first and can tell he’s afraid to knock. I’m guessing he’s waiting for a pause in my dad’s tirade. Finally, Matty taps on the door. His arrival is a welcome diversion—my parents adore Matty.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Matty says. “Did Rosie tell you about my plan?”

Wait, what? Why would I? I had practically forgotten until this very second that he’d gone all road trip on me. Okay, maybe Matty isn’t a good diversion, but it’s too late, he’s already pulling up a chair. So, ten minutes later, after he shares his whole getting-out-of-Dodge scheme (he actually calls it that), my parents have fallen into an eerie trance.

“Let me get this straight,” Eddie says. “Rosie blows up a car and now she’s going on vacation?”

“For the last time, it didn’t blow up,” I say. “And who says I even want to go?”

“Whatever,” Eddie says. “Then I’m going too.”

“As much as I’d like to send you along to watch out for your sister, you can’t,” Mom says. “You have to work.”

Eddie is lifeguarding at the town pool club this summer. This is the dream job he’s wanted since he was a kid and took swim lessons at the YMCA. There’s no way he’s giving it up. Furthermore, there’s no way I’m giving up my own summer plans. I’ve got the bridal shop gig on weekends and I was planning on supplementing that money by starting a dog-walking-slash-sitting business. I made up flyers and everything. Plus, at the end of August, I’m supposed to spend two weeks with Lilliana and her family at their beach house.

“Rosie’s not going either,” Dad says.

“That’s a relief,” I mumble.

“She’s going to work for me at the factory. That way, I can keep an eye on her.”

Uh-oh. I spoke too soon. My dad runs the family lampshade business with his brother, my uncle Dominic. Oh, I’ve done my time at the factory, cutting lampshades into three-by-five rectangular swatches, punching holes in the corners, and grouping the fabrics on binder rings as samples. I have to admit, I’ve got a gift for arranging certain colors and textures so they’re appealing to customers. More than samples, I create palettes.

Still, I am so over it. This summer, I wanted to try something different, even though I feel guilty for not helping Dad more. The business has taken a hit during the last few years with so much stuff being manufactured in countries like China and all, and my mom’s salary as an assistant bank manager doesn’t exactly make up for it. Now we’ve got to hire a lawyer. My parents don’t need to be shelling out that kind of money right now.

It’s official. I suck.

I promise myself I’ll be a better daughter, just as soon as I work out this megamess with Joey. Maybe we can both say we’re sorry and start over again. Is that what I want? That’s part of the problem. I don’t think I’ll know until I talk to Joey again. What I do know is that I want this conversation to be over. I look at the clock on the microwave. Lilliana and her cousin Marissa are picking me up down the street soon. If I can sneak out, we’re going to do a drive-by of Joey’s house and job.

“Maybe she should go away,” Mom says. She’s skimming Matty’s trip itinerary.

“What?!” Dad bellows. “We don’t even know these boys.”

“Well, of course we’ll need to call their parents, and Matty will be with her,” Mom says. I’m not sure I like where she’s going with this.

“Look,” Mom continues. “It’s not my first choice either. But it will keep Rosie out of trouble until her court date, and she might learn something.”

“You’re not serious!” Eddie shouts. His nose and forehead are pink, and he has white circles around his eyes in the shape of his sunglasses. He really needs to get some better sunscreen—it’s hard to take Raccoon Boy’s anger seriously. I stifle the urge to tell him that. I’m already in enough trouble.

“Stay out of this, Eddie,” Mom says. “In fact, go outside. All of you. I want to talk to your father.”

Outside, I plop my butt on the cushiony chaise lounge on the deck. Matty and Eddie walk down into the yard to shoot hoops. There’s a net mounted to our detached garage. It’s a good thing that in addition to being Super Dork, Matty is freaking excellent at basketball. He was the only sophomore on varsity. It no doubt saves him from many an ass kicking.

I close my eyes and try to pretend it’s a regular summer night. I’m kinda pissed because I’m realizing that blowing up your ex’s car and getting a restraining order really robs a person of the sympathy that is her due. I would never say this out loud, but I’m not even that sorry I did it. I’m still angry and hurt. I was in love with Joey, he was my first real boyfriend, and he cheated on me. Ever since we broke up, I’ve been harboring hope that he was telling the truth when he said that his one-night screwup meant nothing. So when I saw him with his new girl at Kevin’s party on Friday, it was like a bikini wax times ten. Even though I knew about her, I didn’t think they were dating. I didn’t think she could fit under his arm as well as I did. Seeing him with her . . . I came unglued.

But the really screwed-up part of all this is, I still love him. In my head, I had us married with two kids, living right here in town with the rest of my entire extended family. High school sweethearts. Happily ever after. The end. I know I’m supposed to have dreams about college and a career, but the truth is, I dream about my wedding day more. Neither of my parents went to college, and look at the life they built together. Sure, Eddie and I get on each other’s nerves sometimes, but for the most part, I’m pretty lucky. My family is close and there’s no question we love one another.

A car horn gives two quick beeps as it passes by the front of the house, waking me from my thoughts. I get up from the chaise and peek in through the screen door. My parents are locked in an exchange of intense whispers. I open the door and try to act super casual.

“I’m going upstairs,” I say. Neither parent acknowledges me. Cool. I make a point of running loudly upstairs before creeping silently back down, carrying my flip-flops. Luckily, the front door isn’t visible from the kitchen. Pony is asleep on the couch. I don’t want him waking up, running to the kitchen to grab his leash, and busting me. I turn the doorknob carefully and slip out, vowing to make it the last time I do something like this. For a while, at least.

I round the corner and see Lilliana’s car. She fist bumps me when I get in. “A restraining order. Nice.”

Lilliana and her younger cousin Marissa go to Sacred Heart with me. We despise plaid and have a shared, but silent, contempt for authority. We’ve never had detention, and we get along with mostly everyone. I’ve noticed that girls treat each other pretty good when there are no boys around to impress. All-girl schools still have their cliques, but my friends are the nonjoiners who feel too cool for student council and Spanish club. But the trouble I’m in doesn’t feel cool at all. I get light-headed every time I think about what people are saying about me. What’s going to happen when school starts again? Am I going to have one of those social outcast nicknames like “Psycho Torch Girl” or something?

“Let’s get the drive-by of the dirtbag’s house over with,” Lilliana says. “Then we’re taking you out.”

Lilliana is no longer hiding the fact that she never liked Joey. It’s only because she missed me. Joey and I were inseparable.

“I can’t go out. I’m grounded, remember?” I say. “It’s bad enough I’m sneaking out to do this.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t go,” Marissa says.

“Don’t be such a wuss,” Lilliana snaps.

“A restraining order is serious. Rosie can get in legal trouble if someone sees her near his house,” Marissa pleads.

I feel bad for making her nervous. I’m a good girl at heart. A few months ago, I would have felt the same way. Joey cheating on me has caused me to undergo some kind of psychological shift. Sure, I can be loud and dramatic, but flat-out rebellion was never my thing.

“No one will see me. I’ll hide back here, I promise,” I say, slouching down in the backseat.

I sound confident, but I know I can’t keep doing stuff like this. Do I really want to turn out like one of those reality-show freaks? My dad said he doesn’t know me anymore. That makes two of us.

We take Farms Road, which starts on my end of town where the older-style homes are only a driveway’s width apart, and wind through the small downtown area. We pass the corner deli where the skate kids are hanging out and continue on Farms until it brings us to Joey’s neighborhood, where the houses are newer and larger but more cookie cutter, right down to the identical play sets in nearly every yard. A month ago, this was my favorite route. Tonight, it makes me anxious and sick. When we pull into Elm Court, I duck.

“Tell me if you see him,” I say. “Is there anyone outside?”

“Nope,” Lilliana says.

“Is his car there? Does it look damaged?”

“No cars in the driveway,” Lilliana says. “No lights on either. It doesn’t look like anyone’s home.”

“He’s probably at work. Let’s drive by ShopRite next,” I say.

My phone rings while I’m still crouching down in the backseat. Shit! It’s my mother. She knows I left the house. She knows I’m up to something. She knows everything. Damn the Catalano sixth sense.

“Hello?”

“Where are you?”

“I’m in Lilliana’s car.” This is not a lie.

“And where is Lilliana’s car, Rosie?”

“It’s at the diner. We’re about to go inside.” Of course, that is a lie.

“That’s it,” Mom snaps. “You’re coming home right now! Your father is furious.”

“I know I shouldn’t have left the house, but it’s just the diner and—”

“Look out the back window,” Mom says. I can hear her clenching her teeth.

“Uh-oh,” Lilliana says, glancing in her rearview mirror.

Slowly, I rise up off the floor and look out the back car window. Yep. There’s my mom in her SUV.

“You followed me?” I shriek into the phone, which is still at my ear.

“I didn’t need to. I knew where to find you.”

I squint in the low, dusk light. There’s someone in the passenger’s seat. Dad? Eddie? No effin’ way.

“Is that Matty?” It is. Traitor.

“He talked your father into staying home,” Mom says. “You should be happy you’ve got a friend like him.”

I should be, but at the moment, I’m not.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Absolutely loved this book! I laughed out loud so many times. Ro

    Absolutely loved this book! I laughed out loud so many times. Rosie was great & so were the boys on the trip!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    Great book

    This book is really funny and i really enjoyed reading it. I recommend it to anyone that just wamts a nice read :)

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Crazy characters and awesome fun! This contemporary novel had a

    Crazy characters and awesome fun! This contemporary novel had a fun, unique edge, with a coming-of-age vibe that included an exciting road trip. Most books I've read have had boys as the character who have stalked someone, so it was a nice change of pace to read about a girl who did it. Does that mean I approve of stalking if it's a girl? Nope. It just added something to the appeal of the story.

    Rosie is a girl who obsessively wants her ex-boyfriend back even though he had cheated AND served a restraining order on her. To save her from making a complete psychotic ass out of herself, her parents send her on a road trip and then the fun begins.

    I had a severe love/hate reader relationship with Rosie. Just when I was starting to like her, she'd do something stupidly stalkerish and I'd end up hating her again. She was gloriously flawed, but she was funny though, and I think that's what stopped me from being turned off of her completely. She had loyal friends, even though she annoyed them at times. Her character grew during the story so I was happy with the ending.

    The stalking was kind of the theme throughout the novel and I think that was what made this book different from other contemporary novels I have read. I really liked the other characters as well. The three boys Rosie was travelling with weren't super-hot guys. Well, I guess Logan was, but the difference was he wasn't a star athlete or musician, but someone who was kind of a normal everyday type. I also liked Avery. She had such likable traits. I was a fan of hers right from the start.

    The writing style appealed to me and I thought the novel flowed really well. As I mentioned above I really enjoyed the setting and reading about places they went to on their trip. It was a quick, light read.

    I enjoyed this book, even with the frustration I felt with the main character. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys road trips and characters that are a little snarky/psycho.  

    Book review was done by Sandy at Magical Manuscripts.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    booksbysteph says "Look Behind the 'Jersey Shore' Stereotyp

    booksbysteph says "Look Behind the 'Jersey Shore' Stereotype"


    The premise of this story is funny. I can relate in the sense of Murphy's Law.

    I felt the character of Rosie was stereotypical of how you think someone from Jersey should act. Maybe a little too Jersey Shore. And that makes her misunderstood. Fortunately, the three guys in the car with her can read her like a book. And each guy has a side to him that helps Rosie see inside herself.

    This is not just a journey to drop off a car, or to spend brotherly time together, or even to keep Rosie out of trouble. It goes so much deeper then that. If you focus on that theme of the book, and not the Jersey Shore outbursts, it is a fun read.

    Until next time, live life one page at a time!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    HMSWUIF review.

    This book is short & sweet but this is defintely one of my favorite books! It was a page turner & I was laughing all through it. Defintely written for teenagers but it was still amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Where does someone begin to write a book review? Do I start at h

    Where does someone begin to write a book review? Do I start at how relatable  Rosie's feelings towards her first break up were? Or how about how Jennifer Doktorski was able to take one of the toughest feelings in the world, and add humor to it? Being a teenage girl, I am ashamed to admit that I do not read that many books. At least not as much as I would like to. But How My Summer Went Up In Flames was honestly a read I will never forget. Jennifer Doktorski really summed up teenage girls' emotions pretty well. I was really fascinated and the book delivered to me a great message. Not everything lasts forever; good AND bad. As young adults, we have to remember that. You should also find yourself, even if you have to do so in the strangest of ways. I highly recommend buying Jennifer Doktorski's book. It's one of my favorites and it teaches us youngsters a pretty valuable lesson. A five star rating does not suffice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    How My Summer Went Up in Flames was a bundle of joy. I had SO mu

    How My Summer Went Up in Flames was a bundle of joy. I had SO much fun reading this book, laughing with the characters, yelling at the main protagonist (more about that later), witnessing all the sight seeing they got to see, and basically solidifying my love for road trip books. Why aren't authors writing more road trip books? Don't they know the book would become an instant success among contemporary lovers? Like many readers, I have yet to read a road trip novel that I didn't enjoy. Of course How My Summer Went Up in Flames might have won itself merit points at the beginning for being a road trip novel, but the characters and the plot (at least second half of it) are what made me love this book and devour it in a single day. Rosie, a couple of weeks after breaking up with her cheating ex-boyfriend, finds herself the culprit of a burnt car belonging to said ex-boyfriend and the holder of a temporary Restraining Order (TRO) her ex-boyfriend took against her. Her parents decide for her to go on the road trip her neighbor, Matty, who she has known all her life and is a year younger, and his friend Spencer and Spencer's older brother Logan were taking to Logan's university, cross country. At the beginning, I was SO annoyed with Rosie and her desperation. It really left a sour taste in my mouth. She broke her TRO several times and couldn't stop thinking about that douche. Where is your self respect girl?! I was so happy when she finally went on the road trip and the whole obsession over her ex-boyfriend started to diminish. The dialogue in this novel was stolen by Matty and Spencer, mostly Spencer and all his adorableness. That guy is a nerd to the max but oh so sweet, caring, and funny. As for Logan, he is the hot guy who is also a nerd; basically every girl's dream guy, looks AND brains? who can say no? However his moodiness and sneering and dislike for Rosie crashing his road trip was obvious. Yup, you guessed it. He is the love interest. I loved Logan, when he learned to loosen up he was as cute as Spencer; These two brothers charmed me to the extreme! Doktorski's writing flowed easily, with a ton of dialogue and a ton of playfulness you expect from road trip books. This is a book to pick up when you want a smile on your face and a ton of free time for the day because once I started this book, I could barely put it down. I honestly would recommend all contemporary and road trip fans to read it because this road trip book is full of all the ingredients that make us readers love contemporary novels! 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Fun and entertaining After dating for almost a year, Rosie finds

    Fun and entertaining
    After dating for almost a year, Rosie finds out her boyfriend Joey has cheated on her and she is furious.  So furious, in fact that she takes all the things he has given her and burns them in his driveway.   What she didn't count on was Joey's car catching on fire.  She goes into stalker mode to try to talk to him and make things right.  Of course, she doesn't see herself in this way, so she is shocked when the police present her with a temporary restraining order, and even more shocked when she finds out she has to go to court in a few weeks.  Matty, her neighbor who has been more like a part of the family all his life, comes up with the perfect solution.  He is going on a road trip to Arizona (they are currently in New Jersey) with his friend Spencer and Spencer's brother Logan, who is going to college there.  His suggestion is that Rosie come along with them to keep her out of trouble until her court date.  Rosie is totally opposed to his and her parents are completely for it.  Thus, the road trip commences and Rosie soon finds out she is in for the summer of her life.  




    Logan is a total hottie, but he also is a jerk and sort of mean, at least in the beginning.  Despite all this, Rosie still finds herself attracted to him, and his jerkdom may just be a cover for his own attraction to Rosie.  Spencer is 16 years old, as is Matty, and both are kind of nerds, but also wind up being so much fun.  Rosie really finds a good friend in Spencer and winds up in some precarious situations on his behalf.  Matty is like her best friend, brother, and maybe more, or maybe not, which is something that is also considered on this road trip.   They also meet Avery in Texas, who is a "friend" of Logan's and she quickly becomes a best-friend to Rosie.  




    I really enjoyed watching Rosie's character grow and change on the course of the road trip.  When she arrives back home, she is not the same Rosie that left two weeks prior.  I loved all the guys to, even Logan when I got to know him.  They were all really great and the bond they all formed on the road trip was one that they will remember for life.  There are also some really hilarious things that take place.  After her court date regarding her TRO with Joey the Jerk, Rosie, by her own choice, is ready to make retribution and ends up doing some things she would have never considered prior to the trip, and one of the guys winds up winning her heart, but which one will it be?  You'll have to read the book to find out.  I love road trip books and How My Summer Went Up in Flames was fun, entertaining, and a really great read that I totally enjoyed.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2013

    This is from a debut author, Ms. Doktroski, and she is a fresh f

    This is from a debut author, Ms. Doktroski, and she is a fresh face in contemporary fiction. I really enjoyed How My Summer Went Up in Flames. Let’s face it—we all make some mistakes when we are teens. How many of us have not done something we felt foolish over or wish we hadn’t done? Ms. Doktroski’s book introduces us to Rosie just after her school year ended. She is devastated that her boyfriend cheater on her and goes a bit crazy. I mean, how many of us destroyed things that our ex-boyfriend gave us…maybe just not to the extent Rosie did though. 




    Rosie is a great character that I think many teens can relate to in some way shape or form. She is self conscious about her curvy figure, her not feeling as smart as her companions on the road trip but she has a great heart and is protective of those she considers friends. There are moments in the book that Rosie made me laugh and, of course, smile through her antics. 




    Throughout the car trip as the miles go by, Rosie begins to see through her actions that lead to her TRO (temporary restraining order) and she begins to grow. She does not have everything figured out when she gets home, nor should she but she is on a better path than she was heading down prior to the trip. 




    The rest of the cast of characters are intriguing in their own various ways. Logan is using the car trip to get Spencer away from their father and a real vacation for the first time in years. He is intensely smart and is gorgeous too boot. Matty is Rosie’s neighbor who is more like a brother and a boyfriend. Matty is such a great friend and we would all be better people if we had him for a friend. Spencer is one of the good guys—those that girls typically overlook. He is passionate about his music and is brainy, a planner and an organizer. Lastly, there is Avery—Logan’s friend that instantly bonds and connects with Rosie after stopping at her house along the way. It is through Avery’s interactions that we see Rosie begin to think beyond the past and now and to begin to think of her future. 




    What I truly appreciated about this book is the characters feel completely believable to me. The story is engaging with laugh out loud moments but some seriousness filtered in throughout it. Ms. Doktorski’s writing is fresh and attention grabbing—all important things in writing young adult novels. I am hoping to see her stick around for a long, long time and she could easily become a household name in young adult contemporary fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    2.5 stars

    This book isn't what I hoped for. It was a book I read and didn't care much of. I thought the book would be a cutesy story but this totally didn't do it for me. The characters seemed a little drab. Rosie the main character comes off as psychotic in the beginning of the book. I just didn't see why someone would go all crazy and did the stuff she did, all because a boy broke up with her. Any person with common sense wouldn't do all that or maybe it's just me. Don't get me wrong, there were some laugh out loud moments but I was tired of hearing the inner workings of Rosie's brain.

    I was a little thrown off by crushes in the book. No way did it come off that these two liked each other or for something to come of it. It was very weird. I'll just leave this as what it is, a silly girl that can't control how she reacts and to some less than stellar boys on an interesting road trip.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Bandit

    Heyo *walks in*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    &infin Warrior's Den &infin

    For warriors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    -♔-Legendrider?-♔-

    Hello everyone! Legendrider here! This is the map of my camp! This is a camp where you can apply to be in the next The Clan Pages five advertized clans! So anyways, lets get on with it.
    <br>
    <p>
    Res 1: not included
    <br>
    Res 2: rules
    <br>
    Res 3: here/map
    <br>
    Res 4: clan add applications
    <br>
    Res 5: interviews with warriors (you must be invited to do those)
    <br>
    Res 6: story add applications
    <br>
    Res 7: not included
    <br>
    Res 8: not included
    <br>
    Res 9: where and when is the next issue?
    <br>
    <p>
    <p>
    Thank you!
    <br>
    <p>
    From,
    <br>
    Legendrider?
    <br>
    <p>
    <p>
    <p>
    |&star|May StarClan light your path...|&star|

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  • Posted November 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Last year I read the summary of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES

    Last year I read the summary of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES and immediately knew that I had to read Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's 2013 debut as soon as possible. I was lucky to get approved for an Edelweiss copy in November and what can I say... I loved it. What drew me to HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES in the first place was the well-done combination of an adorable YA contemp cover, edgy title and the impulsivity of our main character Rosie, plus prescribed road trip cure.

    Upon first hearing about what brought Rosie in the situation of having to leave her city and go on a road trip with three boys, my first thought was: 'That girl is nuts (lucky)'. She burnt her ex boyfriend's car and can't stop stalking him. But be assured that crazy is only meant by the best possible definition. Rosie is crazy fun and a super lovely girl and friend. Rosie Catalano is a YA contemp main character you don't see every day. With her mother being from Ecuador and her father Italian, it's no wonder she's very headstrong and temperamental. She is one of the characters whose emotions are very strong, but has a very gentle heart at the same time and is willing to learn from past mistakes.

    HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES was such an unusual road trip book -one of my favourites nonetheless- because in other YA contemps characters actually want to go on road trips and are eager to leave their hometown, see many different places, not Rosie. I wish someone would force me to go on her road trip!
    A girl, three boys. Two brothers, and two constellations of best friends. I very much adored our road trip crew and their group dynamics. Going on a road trip with three boys is an adventure of itself.
    Matty is such a great guy and I loved that he and Rosie have been best friends for ages. They know each other well and can always rely on the other.
    Logan is this very laid-back, confident guy with various layers of hidden depth. And his brother Spencer is the cute nerd of the group. I'm totally like Spencer myself, because I am a manic planner and always need to work things out to the smallest detail.
    All three boys have other great things to offer and quirks you just have to want to hug them for. And I tell you Rosie will fall for one of those three boys, but you have to read Jen's debut to find out who it will be. Don't be scared if you want her to end up with all three of them, it's only natural these boys will steal your heart!
    But they are not the only characters that grow on you, Rosie has a best girl friend back home, an adorable dog, and her exceptionally likeable parents and brother. And of course the four meet many new people on their trip, too - numerous curiosities among them.

    Their route suggested a ton of fun. Culture, sightseeing, food, music, a fun park. This road trip is so enjoyable, because they are doing many different things, and no over the top activities or only because others would consider them cool. Rosie, Logan, Matty and Spencer are visiting places they feel like seeing and mean something to each of them. For example the Luray Caverns, Dollywood and the Grand Canyon are stops of their trip. They take with them a collection of unforgettable memories, stories of friendship and romantic feelings that will last for a lifetime. I wish I could have joined the four on their road trip for real!


    5/5 ***** HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES - A debut charged with exquisite and summery road trip fun you don't want to miss out on!

    Jen's book came out only a few days ago and I've read it twice already. You know what makes me so giddy with excitement I could do a book dance all day? Jennifer is working on a sequel to HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES! There aren't many sequels or series in YA contemporary so it's no wonder I'm craving a continuation of a story I loved very much. I can't wait to possibly read more about Rosie and the boys' story!

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  • Posted July 14, 2013

    I had been looking forward to reading How My Summer Went Up in F

    I had been looking forward to reading How My Summer Went Up in Flames ever since I saw that it screamed road trip. The blurb promised a fun, quirky story of an impulsive Rosie who might have a bit of a problem letting go of her ex. But it also turned out to be one of those books that made me cringe at Rosie and made me roll my eyes. That's not to say I didn't like the book but honestly, it was going all over the place and not in a good way.

    Jealousy ignited (pun intended) Rosie to burn all the memories of her relationship with her cheating ex-boyfriend in his porch and in front of him. Unfortunately, it all goes horribly wrong and the flame ends up lighting his car on fire. Joey retaliates with a temporary restraining order and a few other (pretty embarrassing) charges. He's basically is just out to ruin her life, legally. It's one thing to be heartbroken, sad and see your ex dating the person who he cheated her on with but it's another when the cause is also putting her in jail. 

    However, Rosie thinks that if she could just talk to Joey, he'd understand why she did what she did. She's impulsive, remember? On top of that, despite the TRO, she manages to text him to meet her. Clearly, Rosie needs to be distanced from the situation until the court date arrives. The solution comes in the form of Matty, her childhood friend and Matty's friend Spencer who're taking a nine day road trip across America to drop Spencer's brother, Logan, in the University of Arizona.

    This is where the trouble begins. From early on, Logan is the designated driver and a douchebag which Rosie clearly had had enough of. Matty and Spencer are pretty laid back and trying to make the best out of the trip. They have their ups and downs with Rosie while on the road which are inevitable. What's irksome however, is the romance. Yes, it's a road trip so there's bound to be some romantic feelings but to have them for all the three boys considering one of them is like a brother to Rosie is just too much. I seriously had no idea who was Rosie going to end up with and I really didn't care after a certain point. She just broke up and her heart is still set on Joey deep down; but she still manages to kind of mess around with three boys? Wow.

    Impulsiveness is not always stupid but in Rosie's case it almost always is was which is annoying because I'm impulsive and it's nothing like that until you make it so. So while I did connect with Rosie, I also didn't. She's constantly ruining the trip for the others because of her bad mood and unwillingness to go on the trip in the first place. I really wanted to shake up Rosie, show her a bridge and tell her to get over it.

    However, there are some parts of the book that I absolutely loved and I understood that Rosie needed the time to come to her senses but it's easy to forget that when she's constantly thinking of bailing out on the trip. I loved the Grand Canyon part of the trip, the way she talked to her dog on the phone and the horses part. I connected with Rosie when she transformed into a feisty, fun person. The guys were so cool once they got over the initial rudeness in case of Logan.

    In all, How My Summer Went Up in Flames is not a story that stands out and it didn't make me feel much. Others might not find Rosie and her attitude as bothersome as I did but the plot didn't completely blow. For the most part, it's a story about a girl getting over a relationship through a cross-country road trip which is a fun concept but it wasn't executed well enough to make me feel that it's an awesome book. However, I do look forward to reading more by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski.

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  • Posted July 9, 2013

    At first I thought How My Summer Went Up In Flames was overly dr

    At first I thought How My Summer Went Up In Flames was overly dramatic...and it was at first. But the more I read I realized it was Rosie who was dramatic and the more that I continued to read it, I realized that Rosie was dramatic and not (that much) overly-dramatic.




     After her first breakup she goes a little crazy and burns a box of her ex's stuff and the fire causes damage to his car. But that karma getting back at him, right? When she tries to explain that to him, she might have disobeyed the temporary order that was in placed after the fire. She just wants to explain to him what happen. When her parents learn of the trouble has gotten herself into the put her in a car with her best friend Matty and two of his friends on a cross-country trip to Arizona. Maybe the distance is just exactly needs to gain some clarity.




    What I love most about this novel is that Rosie doesn't undergo some unrealistic transformation, I think the transformation that she experiences is realistic. I can relate to some of the revelations that she experiences. I recently looked back at some old journals of mine and although I used to think I was so mature, I really wasn't. So when I read about Rosie's experiences with her ex, my first instinct is not to roll my eyes and devalue her struggles. My first instinct is to put it in context. Although her problems seem kind of shallow, they're a really a big deal to her. 




    Distance does bring some clarity to Rosie, but she doesn't turn into a whole new person overnight. That's my favorite detail about the novel. It's that Rosie is still Rosie no matter the context, except that the people around her certainly bring out some of her stronger qualities -- both good and bad. 




    I really loved this novel and would read it again and recommend it to any friend. 

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