Published by Simon Pulse on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.
But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.
With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.
This is actually a pretty tough one for me to review because I really don’t know anything about life in Cairo or almost anything else mentioned in this book. So much of this book is about Egyptians and Muslims and life in Cairo, it almost turns into an informational book rather than a fiction novel, and I loved reading about all of those things but I really don’t know how accurate any of it is. There are other parts of the book that were also very good, especially the parts about racism and privilege, but others that I just didn’t like. So I’m a little on the fence about this one and that’s throwing me a bit. I really like Trish Doller’s other work, so I’m a little bit disappointed. But here’s what I liked about the book and what I didn’t:
What I Liked:
I liked how honest the main character was about her situation and what she was looking forward to and what she was worried about. I completely understood her worries and sadness about leaving her life behind for her senior year in high school and heading out to live in Cairo. It’s a great opportunity but her life was all set in Ohio. It would be a difficult move for anyone who wasn’t expecting it and she didn’t hide her emotions, even while acknowledging that it was her privilege that let her have those feelings as well. I think Doller did a fantastic job representing the MCs culture shock and I definitely appreciated that.
The discussion on privilege was well done, too. So many people don’t know what this means but I liked getting to watch the main character as she spent time in Cairo and slowly learned what her privilege provided her. Her privilege meant she had a driver to take her anywhere she needed to go, that her family could buy new furniture when they needed it, that she could leave the city at any time and return home if something should happen, that she could follow her dreams no matter what they were and even if she hadn’t discovered them yet instead of needing to help support her family. Seeing her realize these things that had just been a given to her and her friends when she lived in Ohio and was constantly surrounded by the same types of families and lifestyles sort of saved the book for me.
The strong family lives for both of the characters. Both have families that love them unconditionally and are there for them when they need them. Regardless of religion or status, both sets of parents want only the best for their kids and are trying their hardest to raise them right. And I really appreciated seeing that from two different cultures at the same time and both in positive ways.
I loved reading about Egypt and Cairo. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Egypt before and I loved those parts.
What I Didn’t Like:
I wasn’t completely sold on the romance. I don’t know why but I didn’t really feel the chemistry between these two character and that made it difficult for me to really be excited about them being together. Caroline has just broken up with her boyfriend of three years and then moves across the world and the first teenage boy she meets in Cairo she ends up falling in love with. And I never really understood what Adam saw in Caroline. I just had a really hard time with this.
Add in the fact that Adam is Muslim and has strong beliefs that and family traditions that are very different from Caroline’s, which she knew about right from the start, but she pursues him anyway. It seemed to me that she was almost completely disregarding how important those were to him and kept spending time with him in the hopes that she might change his mind. She felt very selfish to me as she kept inserting herself into his life. I just felt more that she was lonely and he was forbidden rather than either of them truly loving each other or being a place to actually make decisions like that. I wish she had respected his religion and family traditions more than she seemed to. I could be reading this completely wrong, but I just wish I had felt more emotions between then rather than just attraction. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs can fall in love and live happily ever after, I just didn’t feel enough from these two to make me actually believe that there was something actually deeper than maybe attraction there. And I hate that.
I also did not like the ending. I won’t say anything about it other than that because I refuse to spoil anyone but I just didn’t feel like it really fit with the rest of the story.
Overall, this book was just okay for me. I loved the setting and the strong families I found in the book. And I liked the very relevant topics that were discussed in the story. But I had a really hard time believing in the romance. I really needed to feel something more between the characters than I what I got and it really kept me from being able to love the book and really understand the MC and the motivations behind her actions. This is one book that I keep watching reviews for and can’t wait for more people to read because I think people will have a lot to say about it and I want to know all of their thoughts! Also, I really hope people will love it more than I did because I’m usually a huge fan of Doller’s work but this one just really didn’t meet my expectations.