Title: A Lovestruck Freshman
Author: Caroline A. Dejong
Series: These Four Years Series
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publish Date: December 10th, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Fiction, Romance
Eighteen-year-old Sophie Shelton has left behind her comfortable, naive life in Kissimmee, Florida for a startling awakening at the University of Miami. When she begins college, she’s determined to concentrate on her education and future career as a writer. However, her life takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed.
Immersed completely in a world of sex, love, and cutthroat Greek life, she finds herself dating the freshman quarterback, yet developing feelings for his best friend. Her own best friend advises Sophie to stop leading the two guys on, but she finds that her heart is torn. She knows her path could go either way based upon a seemingly simple choice. Who does her heart belong to? Will she be able to make the choice?
A Lovestruck Freshman, book one in the These Four Years series, will cause you to fall in love with the angst and joy of college, and understand the difficulty of Sophie’s predicament at the center of a love triangle.
I received a free ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Overall, the writing is intriguing and captivating. While there were a few grammatical and structural errors, the language was descriptive and the vocabulary was varied. Similarly, Dejong did an excellent job of describing the setting and general environment at the University of Miami while documenting Sophie’s journey. There was a great balance between dialogue and description throughout the book. There was, however, occasional confusion regarding which character was speaking due to a lack of dialogue tags throughout certain scenes, but after rereading these passages several times and relying on a few educated guesses, readers have a decent chance of correctly identifying the speaker.
One of the greatest contributing factors to why this book didn’t receive a five star review was the plot and its gaping holes. While I enjoyed the overall story and found it to be a cute account of a girl’s freshman year of college, there were several occasions when events directly contradicted what had previously been shared or expressed by the characters. For example, Sophie, the protagonist, mopes for several pages because her boyfriend will miss her birthday entirely for a football game. However, when her birthday eventually rolls around, her boyfriend shows up at her dorm and takes her out to dinner. While it would be highly impressive if he had managed to translocate himself, I find that highly improbable. There were a few other similar occurrences, but I don’t want to incorporate any spoilers into this review. Similarly, the pacing was a bit uneven, erratically bouncing between excitedly fast-paced and slowly limping along. Without a doubt, I preferred the more action-heavy scenes and wish there had been either a greater number of them or if these events had been spaced more evenly throughout the novel.
For the most part, I found the characters to be relatable and down-to-earth…with the exception of Sophie. Sophie was extremely indecisive – to a fault. As Sophie admits herself during multiple scenes, she has a tendency to overanalyze situations, which leads to an internal, mental struggle which is then shared with readers, serving to highlight her inability to make split second decisions. She also tended to stereotype college, as well as her roommate and classmates, which gave me the urge to shake some sense into her on several occasions. Lastly, her thoughts tended to be scattered and difficult to follow at times, and their content was often bordering on awkward:
“I’m one of those people who finds parties intimidating, like a shark in the ocean – far enough away that it won’t bite, but close enough that he’ll know if you’re on your period or not.”
Or my personal favorite:
“Stacy is dressed the part, which makes me look like a frumpy grandma.”
As you can guess, there was TMI on more than one occasion. Otherwise, the remaining characters were unique and possessed highly developed backstories. It was interesting to see their personal growths throughout the novel as they conquered their various fears and reservations. It was also refreshing to read about guys with a wide range of personalities, particularly when it comes to love interests.
The romances were realistic, allowing me to sympathize with each of the characters. Yes, romances plural. The novel contains a love triangle – and this will be one of the only occasions where I will admit that the love triangle worked. Rather than falling into the stereotype of detracting from the overall story, the love triangle was delicately crafted and not over the top, allowing it to serve as a backdrop for various events as they unfolded. While the corresponding tensions between the characters had me fairly anxious for a good deal of the book, the love triangle was executed excellently and blatantly conveyed each character’s reactions and emotional highs and lows.
The novel concluded with a cliffhanger, which can be both good and bad, depending upon how the reader approaches it. Personally, my dislike for unexpected, not entirely explained endings left me slightly disappointed regarding the lack of complete resolution. Considering this is the first book in a series, however, the presence of several prevalent, unaddressed issues is more understandable and will hopefully be included in upcoming installments.