On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.
Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?
I always adore road trip books, and Julie Halpern's Don't Stop Now was no different. Romantic, quirky, and fast paced, it constantly had me flipping the pages, eager to know what would occur next.
Lil and Josh are preparing for an easy and relaxing summer, as it is her last one before her college and the last time they will be together for a while. However, everything changes when Lil gets a voice mail from Penny, their sort-of friend, simply saying, “I did it.” Lil does not put much thought into it until the FBI gets involved. Apparently, Penny’s MIA and Lil was the last person to hear from her. Lil knew Penny was in a twisted and confusing relationship with her boyfriend and was constantly seeking a way out, but why would Penny do something so drastic. Before Lil knows it, she is on a road trip with Josh to find Penny and bring her home. However, there is another problem on this road trip, one between Lil and Josh, because Lil likes (no, LOVES) Josh, but he will not seem to recuperate the feelings. Will they find Penny? Better yet, what will happen between Penny and Josh? Will they get together, or manage to ruin their friendship by the end of the trip?
Lil and Josh were unique and interesting characters, and their relationship was even more so. I don't think I have ever seen a relationship just like theirs in a YA novel and I found that very refreshing, as not only did it seem realistic and authentic, but it also the ignited the kind of tension and drama I love seeing. Better yet, it was always fun seeing Lil and Josh interact with each other, because they played of the other’s emotions and feelings so well, which often made the dialogue and situations they got themselves into all the more hilarious.
The road trip aspect of this was also full of fun. Their adventures were another unique aspect, as the places they stopped were almost as always as dysfunctional as they were. The Penny part was another part that introduced some suspense, and I especially enjoyed how I was able to see a little into her head through the journal entries Julie included. Penny was not my favorite character by far, but it was still interesting to see her drama unfold.
This was my first time reading something by Halpern, and I really enjoyed her writing style. It was breezy and quick, easily something you could read in a couple of hours. Best of all, I really liked the ending in this- it was open-ended but in a way that still gave you hope of what has to come for the characters. However, I have to say I would love to see a follow-up.
Don’t Stop Now is the perfect summery read, especially if you’re one who likes eccentric characters and funny dialogue.
Don't Stop Now is now out!
Source: Publicist- thanks Ksenia at Macmillan!
To find out more about Julie and her books, visit her website.