Available now from HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Eva wants to be a writer, but she's thrown for a loop right before the summer after her senior year when her teacher tells her that her story feels fake and that she needs to learn to write what she knows. Eva makes a pact with herself to get out there and do things this summer, to experience things so that she can be a better writer.
It's honestly a good plan. Eva makes some good inroads too, by taking a chance with cute stranger Elliot and taking a job as a camp counselor with her friend Foster. But changing yourself is a tough road, especially when your default is to coast and let others be the movers and shakers.
Eva has the same problem as many of her main characters: she's a hard person to like. She can be abrupt and overly critical. She has a tendency to focus on her own problems (like most teenagers). She's often overly convinced of her own right-ness. This sometimes made reading her point of view in DON'T EVER CHANGE unpleasant, but it also made her a believable teen girl.
DON'T EVER CHANGE feels very realistic all around, despite Eva's obsession with shoving her life story into something literary and writeable. There's a pettiness and mundanity to it. This does mean that at times I long for more events. Even a death is barely a blip in the story, someone Eva didn't really know. Nothing really happens except for her personal journey. If you don't get invested in that, there's no point in reading the book.
I did enjoy Eva's complicated love life. She has a long-distance boyfriend and a guy she makes out with and another flirtation and it sort of just is. The only issues with Eva having multiple relationships is when there's competitions for the same guys. At the same time, as a counselor Eva is in charge of a thirteen-year-old in a relationship with another thirteen-year-old. She's got to figure out what boundaries are appropriate for adults to set for children, because that's where she is now.
DON'T EVER CHANGE is not an easily approachable book. It might even be a shock to fans of the author, since M. Beth Bloom's first book involved vampires. But I do think it is a book that will resonate with pricklier girls, with those people who try but just have trouble expressing themselves to others.
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