I struggled with Best Foot Forward, a debut young adult romance novel, by Jolene Buchheit. It did inspire me to examine why I don’t usually stray far from my comfort genres and I had hoped that would allow me to put a positive spin on this novel. But even after stepping away, writing that post and coming back to this review, I can’t find much to like about it.
I had a hard time connecting with the characters. Lucia’s life was a little too perfect for me. She was good looking, an excellent athlete and had the ideal Midwestern family. There was nothing in Lucia’s life that I could identify with beyond the fact we were both from the Midwest.
While I struggled with connecting with the main characters, I was also dealing with a plot that fell flat emotionally for me. Nothing was revealed to the reader until the last possible moment. There were many times, early on in the book, I would start to feel a connection with Lucia especially when she hints at this horrible dating experience she had, but it never goes further than that. Each time Lucia would get close to sharing more, she would back off and in my head I was yelling, JUST TELL ME! Sometimes I’m okay with a cat and mouse game on certain plot points, but in this case it was annoying because I was already struggling to like the characters and I just wanted to connect with someone. When the reveal does happen, it was only done so because the plot couldn’t progress further without more detailed information about those events.
I know there is an audience for this type of fiction—seemingly perfect teens who get everything they want in the end—I’m not that audience. Growing up reading V.C. Andrews in my teens, I’m looking for a little but more grit, grime and messiness in my characters and more conflict in the plots.