Title: It Started with Goodbye
Author: Christina June
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance Retelling
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
As a whole, this book was cute, but if you know me, cute doesn’t quite cut it.
Let’s start with the Cinderella idea – I honestly wouldn’t have instantly thought this book was a modern day retelling, but don’t worry! If you forget, the book will beat you with that fact repeatedly.
Tatum isn’t a helpless Cinderella per say. She is absolute piss at defending herself, but she manages to start her own freelance business which helps her make her own money. That’s like the the equivalent of teenage success. However, she was at the wrong place at the wrong time and she gets punished for being in the driver’s seat of a car. And honestly – I get it. When your parents need to pick you up at the police station, you know there’s a punishment at the end of the car ride home. She ends up grounded and her travels are limited to baby sitting, her community service, and her sister’s school events. Colour me surprised…
I get it though – some of the rules that were implemented were a little much, but I’ve heard of those punishments before in other books. Maybe it’s ’cause my parents are more restrictive than most, but I didn’t find the whole thing that weird or restraining. I get why she thought it was unfair, but her defence on the matter sucked. She barely stood up for herself and I wouldn’t have sided with her either if I’d been her parents.
With all that being said, I really liked the idea of Tatum being independent and earning her own money from baby-sitting and freelancing. She took something she excelled at and pursued it. I really like that this part was in the book as it’s the gate to a lot of what comes later, but also because it shows that if you enjoy something you should explore it and see where it leads!
The character development in this book was also pretty great. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here and I really liked how the characters grew with the story and how more and more is revealed about each character as time goes on. It’s so easy to judge people and I enjoyed seeing how the characters grew and changed from the MC’s perspective.
As a whole, this was a cute, light story that is fairly conservative when it comes to the romantic aspects of the novel. With all the more graphic romance books out there for teens, this was a breath of fresh air!
World Building: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.82/5
eARC obtained via Blink via NetGalley.