Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publishing Date: December 31, 2013
Genre: young adult
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
Wren, a junior at an all-girls private school, has been told time and again that she is too quiet for teachers to find her remarkable, and too average to be accepted into various honor societies. She is determined to break out of her passive streak and make a name for herself, but doesn’t know where to begin or what she wants to do with her future. Grayson, a senior, was kicked out of the all-boys private school just last spring for being a “term-paper-pimp,” his future at an elite college stripped and athletic skills kicked to the curb. He’s determined to set his life straight, to become a better person, but isn’t sure how to leave his past behind. But on the night Grayson attends a wedding and chokes on finger food, Wren swoops in to help, and their lives change forever.
The Promise of Amazing is a typical good-girl-meets-bad-boy young adult novel, but without the cheesy lines or trashy love scenes or beachy setting. The story takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the time when seniors are getting accepted into college and juniors are told their dream schools are out of reach. While Grayson is painted as a “bad boy,” he’s not the pot-smoking, heavy-drinking, sexed-up kind of guy in most YA novels. He does, however, commit crimes, is wicked intelligent and slipped up once — that’s how his term-paper matching-making business fell through — and, if a college were to discover such things, he’d be set for life working the cashier line at a grocery store. His life was on the fast-track to failure due to all his short-cuts, but once he was caught, his cocky behavior ended. And Wren truly is average. Not in personality, but she is such a relatable character for all decent girls out there: she works, she tries hard in class, she has good friends and a nice family, but she’s not quite up to par to be qualified for all these big societies high school says helps students get into college. I felt a kinship to her.
The drama in the book is never between Grayson and Wren, per se, but Grayson’s friends trying to bring him back into his business and darker past. They keep attempting to break through the relationship, and it’s up to Grayson to end those connections and that part of his life. These are all aspects of a coming-of-age novel, and life in general: cut out the toxic people in your life in order to better yourself. Through these events, Wren develops courage and a strong voice. You begin to hope her life will turn around for the better as well.
It’s a nice light read, especially around the holidays. If you’re in for feeling nostalgic about your first high school relationship, your first heart-warming experiences, this book is the ticket. The Promise of Amazing is sweet, with well-rounded characters to root for and true-to-life high school experiences.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Balzer + Bray for review!