I don’t like picking favorites (too much pressure!), but if pressed I would probably name Jennifer Echols as my favorite young adult author. Jennifer has several new books coming out in 2013, including her first adult romantic comedy, Star Crossed, in February, and the new adult paranormal novel, Levitating Las Vegas, in May. In the meantime I thought it would be fun to revisit a few of my favorite Jennifer Echols books while I wait (impatiently) for the new ones!
01. Going Too Far
Wild child Meg gets in trouble with the law and finds herself spending her spring break riding along with a young cop, John, on the graveyard shift. At first Meg and John don’t understand each other at all, but as the week progresses they begin to realize they have more in common than they may have thought.
Going Too Far was the first Jennifer Echols book I ever read, and it’s still my favorite. The unique premise is supplemented with fantastic characters and witty dialogue. I never really get sick of it, and every time I pick it up I have a hard time putting it down until I’m done. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read where I actually wanted to start reading it again from the beginning after I finished it the first time around.
02. Endless Summer
Technically this is two books stuck together (The Boys Next Door and its sequel, Endless Summer), but I think these days you can only really find the combo. The initial premise focuses on Lori, who has dedicated her summer to snagging her hottie next door neighbor, Sean. In order to do that, she recruits Sean’s brother Adam as a faux boyfriend in order to make Sean jealous.
Both of these stories are great, but I especially enjoy The Boys Next Door. As with most of Echols’ leading ladies, Lori is confident and funny and just a little bit of a mess. The fake boyfriend idea lends itself to some entertaining scenarios, and there are a lot of humorous hijinks running throughout the story. This book is (obviously) a fun summer read, but it still has depth and character development that can be hard to find in these types of young adult romantic comedies.
03. The One That I Want
After losing a bunch of weight, Gemma gains the confidence to try out for her school’s majorette squad. Meanwhile she meets swoony football player Max, who seems to like her…until Gemma’s “best friend” Addison swoops in and claims Max for herself. Gemma wants Max, but isn’t sure it’s worth risking her relationship with Addison.
As a former majorette, I loved reading about that part of Gemma’s life. I also appreciated that this book presents a slightly different type of main character. Gemma is still working on her confidence and learning how to stand up for herself, and it’s something I imagine plenty of teenage girls can relate to. There’s also a good lesson on friendship that I can relate to even now. And of course it doesn’t get much better than a sarcastic Japanese quarterback for a love interest.
04. Such A Rush
Leah has grown up in trailer parks her whole life. She’s fascinated with the idea of being a pilot and takes flight lessons at a nearby airport from the sympathetic Mr. Hall. When Mr. Hall dies, his sons Grayson (who Leah has been crushing on for years) and Alec come to Heaven Beach to take over the family business. Leah ends up getting blackmailed into helping with a secretive scheme Grayson cooked up, but if she doesn’t keep up appearances she might lose her chance to fly.
Echols’ most recent romantic drama is also one of my favorites to date. Once again she crafted unique main characters with depth and complexity, as well as a tense, believable relationship between them. This book handles a lot of interesting issues really carefully and weaves together drama, romance, humor, and general teen angst (what’s a young adult book without teen angst anyway?) seamlessly.
05. Major Crush
Former beauty queen Virgina gives up pageants and wins a spot as a drum major for her high school marching band. Her fellow drum major, Drew, is bitter about sharing the title with a girl. Virginia and Drew can’t seem to get along, and their personal issues are causing the entire band to fall apart.
I believe this is Echols’ first published book and it still holds up fantastically. Most of her books have a sort of homey, southern feel to them, and that ambiance is definitely present in Major Crush. I love how strong and dedicated Virginia is – she knows she’s good at what she does, and she demands respect. The marching band politics are both funny and authentically accurate. There are also a lot of fun, colorful supporting characters in this book that are really the cherry on top.
- An Interview with Author Jennifer Echols
- Book Review: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
- Top 5: Holiday/Winter Book Recommendations