Hi there! Today I’m part of the review tour for a new contemporary YA romance that packs a serious emotional punch. LOLA CARLYLE’S 12-STEP ROMANCE From Danielle Younge-Ullman is about a girl who takes a hard look at her life, and turns it around before it gets out of control. Make sure to check out the giveaway below.
About the book:
Lola Carlyle is lonely, out of sorts, and in for a boring summer. So when her best friend, Sydney, calls to rave about her stay at a posh Malibu rehab and reveals that the love of Lola’s life, Wade Miller, is being admitted, she knows what she has to do. Never mind that her worst addiction is decaf cappuccino; Lola is going to rehab.
Lola arrives at Sunrise Rehab intent solely on finding Wade, saving him from himself, and—naturally—making him fall in love with her…only to discover she’s actually expected to be an addict. And get treatment. And talk about her issues with her parents, and with herself. Plus she has insane roommates, and an irritatingly attractive mentor, Adam, who’s determined to thwart her at every turn.
Oh, and Sydney? She’s gone.
Turns out, once her pride, her defenses, and her best friend are stripped away, Lola realizes she’s actually got a lot to overcome…if she can open her heart long enough to let it happen.
Lola Carlyle is celebu-spawn, the selfish 17 y/o offspring of two serious Hollywood players. Her mother is an actress on a long-standing soap opera, and her dad is a well-known diretor. The parental units split several years ago, and Lola lives with her mom and mother’s girlfriend, while dad ia gallivanting off with whomever warms his bed–leaving Lola isolated and alone.
Her friend, Sydney, cons Lola into faking her way into rehab–where Sydney is, with the carrot that Lola’s long-time crush, child actor Wade Miller is also in residence. Lola’s torn–she has no addictions, yet, she has nothing really going on in her life. The lure of reconnecting with (and possibly helping) Wade, who she worked with on one of her dad’s movies years ago, is strong, and it’s not long before Lola is Sunrise-bound. While there, she learns that Sydney checked out two days before Lola arrived! Trying to salvage something positive, she seeks out Wade, who doesn’t recognize her, but is certainly intrigued by the girl hitting on him.
Throughout the first week, however, Lola is remorseful about her shenanigans. She sees how very seriously some of the residents at Sunrise suffer from addiction. She can’t even go into therapy, knowing that any decent therapist will see through her charade. The tragic stories she hears are horrifying, and only reinforce her idea that faking an addiction to hang out with Sydney and help “save” Wade was the worst idea ever.
Plus, her mentor, Adam, is a constant thorn in her paw. He’s everywhere, and her attempt to escape him only brings them in closer proximity. Close enough that Lola finally feels as if someone is actually SEEING her. Her parents have treated her with casual neglect nearly her whole life, and even Lola doesn’t think her sob story is worth anything compared with the addicts who surround her. She tries to “confess” that she isn’t an addict, and this only gets her labeled as a denier. So, she steps up and works with her counselors, not against them, believing it’s her only way out.
I enjoyed Lola’s journey from self-obsessed snarky girl to self-reliant, grounded girl. The time span of the book isn’t long–only a few weeks, but she has had years of emotional drama that she never felt comfortable discussing, always fearing a negative report being leaked to the press. Getting intense therapy does help Lola cope with her family drama in a healthy way. Though, honestly, her fame-hungry mother would be unlikely to bat an eyelash over the spin cycle of their taudry famliy laundry; she did arrange to have paparrazi present at Lola’s intake appointment, after all.
Adam was not an unexpected love interest. I felt like that part of the romance was well-handled. He is attracted to the exasperating Lola, but holds himself (mostly) in check, to salvage his professional role, and facilitate Lola’s “recovery.” It is Adam’s compassion which helps Lola turn the corner, and gain the insight she needs to be whole again. The book ends without the cheesy parent/child water works reunion, and that was for the best. Lola is a better person after all this, but I think even she would still say she’s “whak.”
The story, for all the seriousness of the subject matter, is rather lightherated, with Lola almost manic in her single-mindedness. Her superficiality burns off in the harsh light of self-reflection in a way that is endearing. The first half of the book I was shaking my head at her idiocy, and the second half I was cheering her on, so I guess I changed a bit, too.
The book contains some frank discussion regarding drug and alcohol addiction, including an OD, and has passing references to sex, though not from the main character’s experience. I think teens will enjoy.
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Good luck, and keep reading my friends!
About the Author
Danielle Younge-Ullman is a novelist, playwright and freelance writer. She studied English and Theater at McGill University, then returned to her hometown of Toronto to work as professional actor for ten years. Danielle’s short story, Reconciliation, was published in MODERN MORSELS—a McGraw-Hill Anthology for young adults—in 2012, her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2005, and her adult novel, FALLING UNDER, was published by Penguin in 2008. Danielle lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.