Just for You by Jennifer Ann Shore

Jennifer Ann Shore’s books are my new best reads. Having recently discovered Only You in Everything, I found myself keen to immerse myself once more in the teen worlds that she creates, where complications are the normal sort of fodder expected for teens – friends, boys, confidence, self-image, hopes , aspirations, families.

In Just for You, our main character is Violet and we follow things from her perspective. Violet comes from a big family and is the eldest of a brood of half siblings, her mother having remarried a man called Ryan, who is an exemplary step-father, Violet being wholly accepted by him. The tensions in Violet’s home life stem from the chaos of her sharing her space with younger relatives rather than uncertainty from her step-parent. However, Violet’s lack of relationship with her father does come to light during the course of the book and goes some way to explain how she approaches her involvement with people.

Violet has two good friends, Erica and Kara, but they are in conflict, this being a subplot in the book along with Violet’s absent father. The main action of the book is centred around Violet and Penn, who she meets at one of Kara’s hockey games and we follow Violet as she embarks uncertainly into a new area of closeness with a significant other, with knowledge of the experience she has had previously in familial and friend relationships.

Set in the world of high school and senior year as well as drawing on the team play of school hockey, you have everything you’d expect from a coming-of-age book: the separation that occurs between friends when boyfriends arrive; the need for adult space in the face of younger demanding family members; wondering if the person showing interest in you is right for you. What I also liked about Shore’s book was having a female character being accepted into a male team and being successful, as unlikely as that may seem.

I love books like this as they are refreshingly simple – that is not to say that they lack depth but they deal with fairly real situations in an adult way, with engaging characters, warmth, maturity and a lightness of humour at times which just makes them really easy and enjoyable to read.

It is just the tonic I need from a book right now and Shore is providing it in copious spoonfuls.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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