About the Book

Title: Eliza’s Journal
Published: 2012
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Cover Story: Quarantine It
BFF Charm: Yay
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Picture Book, Paleontology, Pacific Northwest
Relationship Status: Summer Fling

Cover Story: Quarantine It

Stand back everyone, this cover is clearly suffering from the worldwide pandemic known as Twilight Plague. If you get too close, it might infect your other books with cupped hands, close up of flowers, or red, white, and black color schemes. It tried to trick me into thinking it was a decent cover with its cool illustrated vibe, and it almost worked. But I saw through its ruse, and clearly the only solution is clearly to KILL IT WITH FIRE.

The Deal

Eliza just wants to spend her summer at art camp or kicking it at the beach with her friends in Irvine, California, but her workaholic parents have shipped her off to live on Orcas Island with her crappy uncle Pat instead while they’re in Tampa. Not only does Horrible Uncle Pat not even have internet in his house, but he forces Eliza to get a summer job. Despite being threatened by scraping barnacles of yachts all summer, Eliza finds a job that actually seems interesting. Eccentric old Mr. Tanner hires her to draw fossil specimens, and she gets to work with his cute grandson Charlie while she’s at it.

But as Eliza learns more about paleontology, she notices some weird stuff going on at the Tanner residence. Long extinct specimens that should be fossilized are showing up as fresh skeletons, and Eliza isn’t sure what to believe… or who to trust.

BFF Charm: Yay

Yay BFF Charm

At first, I wasn’t sure about Eliza. She was a little bit whiny entitled teenager, but then I remembered that she’s writing in her journal. Have you ever gone back and read your teenage journals? It is PHYSICALLY PAINFUL. Of course she comes off as self-involved. All things considered, she’s really not that bad at all.

So once I realized that in her shoes, my journals would have been WAY more insufferable, Eliza and I were fast friends. Even though she starts off the book grumpy about not being able to see her friends and having to work, she gets over her moping pretty quickly and does her best to enjoy her summer on Orcas.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

I wasn’t super into Charlie and Eliza’s relationship, mostly because they seem to be the only two teenagers on Orcas Island. I’m not asking for a love triangle, but it all seemed too convenient. However, Charlie does give Eliza an incredibly romantic gift towards the end of book that scored him a couple extra points.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

As I mentioned before, the book is written as a journal. Journal books often come off in two ways–one, hilariously implausible, or two, PAINFULLY REALISTIC (See Darling, Jessica). Williams manages to capture a happy medium, that isn’t too cringeworthy in either direction.

Bonus Factor: Pictures

Person sketching in a sketchbook on their lap

So, you might have worked out from the endless supply of graphic novels I review that I enjoy books with pictures. Whoever decided that picture books are only for children is a terrible, terrible human. Luckily, Eliza’s Journal has LOTS of pictures! She copies her drawings from work into her journal, as well as the occasional sketch of a person or place.

Bonus Factor: Paleontology

Dinosaur skeleton in a museum

Uh, Eliza has THE BEST SUMMER JOB EVER. She just gets to draw stuff and learn about fossils all day. Seriously unfair. Williams does a good job working some science into the book, and Green’s illustrations make it easier to follow.

Bonus Factor: Pacific Northwest

Photo of coniferous trees with light thawing snow on the ground and Mount Rainer in the background

San Juan Islands! My mom’s family is from Bainbridge, which is… not actually that close, but CLOSE ENOUGH. I love the Pacific Northwest! My childhood is punctuated by trips to visit my Gramma and frolicking through temperate rainforests.

BUT, If you couldn’t tell by the cover and the setting, this book veers perilously close to Twilight territory. Luckily, though, it is NOTHING LIKE TWILIGHT. Instead, Eliza and Charlie live in the real world where lurking outside someone’s window at night is creepy as hell, and if the other party found out, it would end the relationship. There’s also a hilariously self-aware joke about vampires that I enjoyed greatly. Bonus points to this book for reclaiming the Pacific Northwest from the undead!

Relationship Status: Summer Fling

I didn’t go looking for romance, book, but then I met you and we went on long walks on the beach under the moonlight. Sure, our relationship was short-lived, but I’ll always look back on our time together with fondness. And oh, those summer… NIIIII-IIIGHTSSSSS.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Craigmore Creations. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Eliza’s Journal will be available October 12.

Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.