Close-up of a boy and girl's faces as they are about to kiss

About the Book

Title: When You Were Mine
Published: 2012
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: PDA
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit
Bonus Factors: Retelling, Being Popular, Mysterious Loner Dude
Relationship Status: Star-Crossed Lovers

Cover Story: PDA

Dude, this cover needs to GET A ROOM ALREADY. I don’t want to see this shizz, much less be seen carrying it around! The only saving grace is the great tag line, but it’s unfortunately dwarfed by the GIANT KISSING FACES. Sigh. I hate it when bad PDA happens to good books.

The Deal:

You may have heard that When You Were Mine is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. And you may have rolled your eyes, because seriously, does the world really need more adaptations of a story about two melodramatic and horny teenagers with a serious lack of communication skills? Well, fear not, my fellow cynical readers! Rebecca Serle didn’t write a book about Romeo and Juliet. She wrote a book about Rosaline, the girl Romeo broke up with after he met Juliet. And it turns out that Shakespeare made a huge mistake, because Rosaline is WHERE IT’S AT!

Senior year is about to begin, and Rosaline is a ball of nerves, because this is the year when she and Rob, her best friend and secret crush, will finally get together. Everyone knows that Rob and Rose are meant to be… everyone, that is, except for Juliet, Rose’s beyotch of a cousin who just moved into town. As soon as Juliet and Rob meet, they become obsessed with each other, effectively destroying all of Rose’s dreams. Forced to define herself without Rob, Rose must find a way to let him go without losing herself in the process.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

Rosaline is seriously the sweetest girl in the entire universe. She’s loyal and loving and stable and totally adorable. But the good news is that she’s also interesting! You know how some girls are just nice and, well, they’re just nice? Rosaline is nice, but there’s a lot going on under the surface, and it was fascinating to watch it all spill out after Rob leaves her behind. Girlfriend was a mess, and I wanted to drive to her house, hug her for a long time then throw darts at a picture of Juliet’s face because HOW DARE SHE mess with my sweet beautiful Rose? Honestly, I wanted to be her bosom friend after, oh, page five, because she’s just that wonderful. (Rob, btw, you are a TOTAL IDIOT.) Sure, Rose is a bit of a pushover and follower at the beginning, but as she learns to be independent, as she discovers her own self, my heart soared and my fist pumped and yep, my eyes even teared up a little.

I also have to give out charms to Rose’s besties, Olivia and Charlie. They are AWESOME. We probably wouldn’t have actually been friends in high school, seeing as how they’re both gorgeous and extremely popular and, in Charlie’s case, kind of a psycho BUT damn, I would have worshiped them. And the friendship shared by these three is nothing short of epic, full of the kind of rituals and catchphrases that only come with years of sisterhood. Here’s a few examples:

Charlie is full of theories. She has a theory about everything. For instance she believes firmly that you can only change your hair once over the course of high school. Olivia chopped all hers off when she broke up with Taylor, and Charlie told her she had used up her reinvention. “I hope he was worth it,” I remember her saying.

Another of Charlie’s theories is that it’s important to have “a thing.” It makes you stand out. She calls it your seven, because that’s her favorite prime number. Meaning it can’t be divided, just like the thing that makes you you can’t be separated. My seven is that I don’t drive. I mentioned to Charlie that that’s sort of a negative thing, but she just brushed me off. “It makes you stand out,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Shakespeare ain’t got nothing on Rebecca Serle, you guys. First, even though you totally know what’s going to happen, she still manages to make you fall in love with the idea of Rob and Rose being together. Then, because she seems to have an inexhaustible supply of swoon-making ability, she introduces Len, a mysterious loner dude who is weird and sarcastic and intense and TOTALLY TINGLE-WORTHY. I think I le sighed about a billion times while reading this book, which is about a 999,999,999 more than the times I le sighed while reading Romeo and Juliet.

Talky Talk: 2 Legit 2 Quit

Even though this is her debut novel, Rebecca Serle is well on her way to earning her own talky talk label, joining the ranks of Sarah Dessen, John Green and Sara Zarr. Serle’s knack for dialogue is uncanny, and her characters are so vivid, they make the pages breathe. What could have been a fun twist on a classic story became, in the skilled hands of the author, a deeply compelling and emotional journey, peppered with adolescent attitude and an insanely perceptive vision of the high school experience. Not only is Serle completely authentic in her writing, she’s also really funny. Here are two of my favorite examples:

Rose, on Charlie and her boyfriend’s on again, off again relationship:
Honestly, I don’t see the obstacles. Unless the fact that he wears baseball caps a lot and calls everyone “dude” is an obstacle. Which, maybe it is. They broke up because he called her “bro” at prom last year and then they didn’t speak for a week.

“Let’s goooo,” she says. Olivia has this habit of dragging out the last word of everything she says. It’s annoying, but the thing about being that beautiful in high school is that your annoying habits don’t matter. Kind of like how it doesn’t matter whether you order a diet or regular Coke at McDonald’s with a Big Mac. In the scheme of things, it really isn’t affecting much.

Bonus Factor: Retelling

Cher in Clueless, sitting at her desk and holding a pen while she stares dreamily into the distance

I’m not always a fan of classics being retold, mostly because it just seems like the author is too lazy to think of her/his own story. But in Serle’s case, I am completely impressed. She took a tired and cliched love story and made it totally original and exciting, which is saying a lot, since we all know the ending already.

Bonus Factor: Being Popular

Karen and Gretchen, part of the Plastics in Mean Girls, wearing pink and freaking out at the mall

Much like in Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, Serle gives us an inside look at what it’s really like to be a popular girl in high school. And it’s just as awesome and effed up as I imagined it would be. Olivia and Rosaline aren’t actually mean girls, but Charlie is totes a Regina George, and I mean that as a compliment. Sure, I’m jealous of their hotness and parties and completely fabulous lifestyle, but Serle gave me the chance to understand them and see them, not just as queen bees, but as teenage girls with issues and anxieties of their own.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Jordan Catalano, a hot brooding stoner, in My So-Called Life

LEN! Oh Lenny (can I call you Lenny?), you dazzle me with your cryptic hotness!! You’re not the typical MLD, but that’s what I like about you. And I really wish you were real, so I could run my fingers through your curly hair and stare into your blue eyes and… do… other things… with you.

Relationship Status: Star-Crossed Lovers

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and this book is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

When You Were Mine and I fell madly in love with each other at first sight, and fortunately for both of us, our families are cool with it, so suicide won’t be necessary. This book has it all– fascinating characters, an engrossing storyline and smokin’ hot chemistry, and you need to read it as soon as possible. To do otherwise… now THAT would be a tragedy.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Simon Pulse. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.