Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing on 3rd February 2020
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The rich and popular Sharks rule at prestigious, ivy-covered Camden Prep. Once upon a time, I wanted to be part of their world--until they destroyed me.
The last thing I expected was an anonymous love letter from one of them.
Please. I hate every one of those rich jerks for what they did to me. The question is, which Shark is my secret admirer?
Knox, the scarred quarterback. Dane, his twin brother. Or Chance, the ex who dumped me. . .
Dear Ava, Your eyes are the color of the Caribbean Sea. Wait. That's stupid. What I really mean is, you look at me and I feel something REAL. It's been ten months since you were here, but I can't forget you. I've missed seeing you walk down the hall. I've missed you cheering at my football games.I've missed the smell of your hair.
And then everything fell apart the night of the kegger.
Don't hate me because I'm a Shark. I just want to make you mine. Still.
‘Dear Ava’ wasn’t quite the enemies-to-lovers kind of tale I thought I’d be getting, but that’s a small thing considering the intriguing blurb.
The story straddles the NA/YA line quite tenuously: there were parts that I kept expecting college-age hormonal behaviour, then got high-school hormonal behaviour (which is really what it is) with some dialogue that felt less grown-up than it seemed. The uneven voices with odd maturity in parts and near child-like naïveté in others (with reminders that these are kids who aren’t 18 yet) created a dissonance that contributed to the difficulty I had trying to place both Ava and Knox as protagonists in my head and not really succeeding.
The typical alpha-arse-jock behaviour is strangely absent in Knox as I read on—his softer, emotional side made his character feel more like the artist-type interspersed with early frat-boy shenanigans, though this is a little hard to reconcile with the kind of preconceived image I had of him at the start. Ava on the other hand, is an admirable one and I really like Madden-Mills’s portrayal of the aftermath of how she deals with sexual assault full head-on: the need to stay stronger, harder and more resilient than before.
Some issues are heavy-hitting, as with most NA books but would probably have resonated more had there been a stronger sense of closure amid parental disapproval, given how much time was take to build some mystery over Ava’s assault and the driving need to find answers.
But frankly, I was left in doubt over the last quarter of the book—issues like leaving to find oneself, to separate because a parent said so, so incongruous to the tune of the drum Ava had insistently marched to from the start and then finally an easy reunion with OTP love declarations—which made the book harder to swallow than I’d liked.
It’s not too bad a read, really, but I wished on the whole, that this had made a bigger impact after the very confronting first few scenes.