All You Get is Me, Yvonne Prinz

Harper Collins, 2011

Thus continues my love of YA! I randomly picked this one up at the library, for some reason drawn to the simple yet dynamic cover. Taglines for the book quote it as a story about “a summer of love, loss, justice and chickens“. What’s not to like?

So this is how it goes: Aurora Audley, or “Roar”, is carted from her big city life to a small, dumpy, organic Californian farm by her dad. Her mother left them after months of depression and flightiness, and her father’s way of dealing with it is to become a farmer. I loved Roar’s attitude about it. With humour and good nature she explains to her reader the simple life of an organic farm girl. Her chore is taking care of the chickens, and I laughed every time she talked about them. No matter how much love she tries to show them, they remain frustratingly oblivious.

This was more than a lovely little farm story, though.  A horrible car accident takes place in the first chapter, leading to an intense battle for justice that involves rights for illegal farm workers from Mexico. The accident also leads to Roar’s meeting Forest, who is (naturally) the perfect combination of dreamy-slash-brooding good looks and sensitivity. Not to mention he’s a little off-limits, given that his mom is the one who caused the accident! Cue sappy forbidden romance. Despite the sticky situation of a legal battle brewing about them, Roar and Forest are still able to find love and, obviously, this is perfectly understandable. Of course Roar’s gonna fall for the boy who compliments her eyes upon first meeting, despite the fact that she looks like crap at the time. It doesn’t matter that she hates his mom beyond anything; besides, that all works out in the end.

As young adult books go, All You Get Is Me was pretty average. Parts of it were really gripping and well told. Other parts – like the almost-instantaneous falling-in-love part – seemed forced and unreal. Prinz struggles to make her dialogue seem genuine. I was constantly reminded that I was reading fiction which, in my eyes, is the mark of a mediocre story-teller. Still, I wish there were more books like this out there. There are altogether too many fluffy fantasy romance novels available to teens right now, and not enough slice-of-life, day-to-day inspired stories that can also make young people think. There are real issues out there that teens should be thinking about. This type of novel is a good segue into engaging that type of critical thought. Entertaining and thought-provoking, it’s just too bad this book wasn’t better written.

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