My Best Everything, by Sarah Tomp was released this week. It was an emotional, enjoyable, and unique YA contemporary book about fighting for what you want, falling in love for the first time, and moonshine. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of the novel last weekend and wanted to share my thoughts and impressions with you.
Lulu hasn’t just dreamed of leaving her over-bearing mother, junkyard job, and small Virginia town behind after graduating from high school. She’s worked hard for the future she wants and the one her father’s promised her. And when (early in the novel) her father loses her college tuition money, she doesn’t give up. She develops a new, and illegal, plan to make and sell moonshine to earn the money herself.
She isn’t exactly by herself though. First, it’s just her best friends, Roni and Bucky helping. But when they get in over their heads, Lulu asks Mason – a boy from a family of moonshiners who’s been paying her a lot of extra attention this summer – for help. There are triumphs and bumps within their money making endeavor and their relationship. As good girl Lulu begins to blur her boundaries, she becomes less sure of what she really wants.
The book is a letter from Lulu to Mason. It is narrated in the first person, but used the second person to address him. What I was unsure of while reading is if it was an apology, a good-bye, or a love letter.
Now that I know, I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.
At first, the concept of this book felt a little far-fetched, and Lulu’s goodie-two-shoes reactions to drinking, dancing, and sex felt a little clichéd. But within a few chapters those thoughts had vanished and I was hooked. I felt Lulu’s emotions deeply. In the swoony scenes with Mason (obviously not much of a spoiler, right?) I had butterflies in my stomach. Other times my heart was racing from both anger and fear.
I haven’t read a lot of books narrated by characters who don’t have a lot of money in the American south, and the moonshine twist was definitely interesting. There is also lots of humor present in the book, which definitely adds levity to the story’s darker moments. But I think it is the frame of Lulu writing the book as a letter to Mason that stands out to me most. I’ve never read anything quite like that before, and think that Tomp pulled it off well.
I hope that some of you will pick up the book and let me know your thoughts. Until then, I would love to know in the comments what you’ll be reading this weekend.
*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley, but the opinions expressed here are all my own.