Thursday, March 14, 2019

Doll Hearts by Colleen Clayton

Doll Hearts 
by Colleen Clayton 
Read: November 23 - 25, 2018
Published: April 24, 2018 by Muse Contemporary
Source: Kindle purchase

Category: YA, Contemporary, Summer, Amusement Parks, Diabetes, Family Drama, Hoarders
Find: Goodreads | Amazon 

Book Description: 17-year-old Julianne Bell’s life is caving in on her. Literally. Her mother is a hoarder and shopping addict whose retail drug of choice is collectible dolls. She also dabbles in lesser fixations like snow globes, commemorative plates, kitchen gadgets, and never-to-be-used exercise equipment. Their house is not a home but more a bizarro game of Garage Sale Tetris in which flea market finds, Amazon boxes, and QVC shipments are puzzled together in a labyrinth of consumer excess and looming bankruptcy. It’s a situation Julianne has grown adept at hiding. That is, until the day her school cafeteria account slips into the red. Meal-skipping is not an option for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, so when Julianne has a seizure in class, her father claims custody. Living with her dad and annoyingly perfect step-mom is not how Julianne planned to spend her summer, let alone her senior year. Needing fast cash to help her mom avoid foreclosure, Julianne takes a job at an amusement park, and as luck would have it, her former classmate—heartthrob Brandon Wright—also works there. Between sweeping up cigarette butts at the park, racing to solve her mom's personal and financial disasters, a medical condition that needs constant monitoring, and a budding romance, Julianne Bell’s messy life just got a whole lot messier. 

Set against a summery backdrop of roller coasters, pool parties, and cute boys, DOLL HEARTS explores issues of obsessive-compulsive hoarding, family bonds, and first love.

I loved Colleen Clayton's first book What Happens Next. It is a contemporary gem, and I definitely recommend that you read it if you haven't already. Because of that I was excited to read her new book Doll Hearts. Unfortunately, I have very mixed feelings about this book. 

What I liked: The story of Julianne dealing with her mom’s hoarding and OCD, as well as her relationship with her dad and Melody, was raw and felt realistic. And I really appreciated how the story ended with all of that. It wasn’t perfect, but Julianne grew up a lot and ended up in a good place for herself. I don’t know a lot about type 1 diabetes, or how accurate is this portrayal of it, but found that part of the book to be interesting and eye opening. Though I wanted to shake Julianne every time she got mad at her friends for their care and concern. I also liked Julianne’s new friendship with Dana and also with Lindsey, and her job at Cedar Point. 

What I loathed: However, I hated the romance. It was a complete miss for me, and that pretty much ruined my enjoyment of the story. I didn’t like Brandon much throughout the story, and I completely lost all trust in him after that end party. WHAT?! I didn’t buy his explanation at all. The whole Adriana situation made me very angry. He shouldn’t have been hanging out with Adriana at all after he started dating Julianne. Full stop. For me, there was nothing swoony about this storyline or this guy. You’re not going to convince me that Brandon wasn’t still playing around, and I hated that in the end he never really realized why Julianne was upset - or apologized. And while Julianne acted tough at first, I can’t believe she just fell for his explanation at the end like it was nothing. Yeah right. No thank you, buddy. 

I cannot recommend this book, because I hated the romance, and that's a very important factor in my enjoyment of any story. However, I did like Julianne and a lot of the other elements in Doll Hearts, and I'd be interested in another story by this author - assuming the romance was different than this. 

Love Triangle Factor: None from Julianne's perspective. There's definitely a reverse love triangle happening from Brandon's perspective though. You're not going to convince me that there isn't. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

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