Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Contemporary, 373 pages, published in 2019

Synopsis: After being pushed into the pre-med track at college, Shane signs up for a study abroad program, but tells her parents it for pre-med when in reality, it is a creative writing course. She felt stuck in her college, her major, and her life, so she thinks switching things up will help her find who she is.

Spoiler Free Review:

I wasn’t interested in this book, but the woman who runs my local Barnes and Noble book club highly recommended it to me after I didn’t go to the book club meeting for it. I don’t like the author’s YouTube videos because her personality is too much for me, so I didn’t think I would like her writing style. However, I am so glad I picked up this book!

I thought the plot felt something like a mix between Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It has a fantasy element that I wouldn’t have expected.

I know so many people complained that this book was cringey and that the pop culture references were too much, but I honestly thought that they were fine. In the book, Shane is 20 in 2011 (when most of this book takes place) and in 2011, I was 16. From personal experience, I was so similar to Shane in terms of obsessing over things and referencing them, both in 2011 and at age 20. Maybe 2011 was just a cringey year, especially looking back on it. I just think it was an accurate portrayal.

Speaking of references, the LOST references in this book killed me! Shane has a computer named Sawyer, after one of the characters from the show, and I am 80% sure I also named one of my laptops Sawyer (either that or something from LOTR). There was a whole scene were the show was quoted and I actually squealed because it made me super nostalgic and it was just plain cute.

Shane’s reason for wanting to study abroad specifically is to do things she hadn’t done yet throughout college. She wanted to make friends, meet boys, go out and have adventures, live. This was probably the most relatable part of the book for me. As someone who regrets most of their college experience, I wish I had pushed myself to experience new things like Shane did. This was where a lot of my emotions for this book stemmed from. I am going to talk about this more in the spoilers section!

I also thought that the romance was so sweet. It didn’t feel rushed and I thought they had a really good connection. A lot of their interactions had me swooning just a little bit.

I really enjoyed this book! It’s funny because after I read this, I figured I would watch one of Christine’s videos to see if I changed my opinion about her (I haven’t), but in the one I watched, she mentioned finding the right book at the right time. I think I definitely read this book at the right time in order for it to leave such an impact on me. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it if I read it at another time, but I definitely think my emotions and situation put me in the right place to love this book.

SPOILERS

I didn’t want to talk about the time travel above, but I didn’t really know how I felt about it. On one hand, I was glad that Shane got to go back and redo things the right way. On the other hand, it made me feel like I need to travel back in time and redo things in order to get my happy ending. She got a second chance to try and make her passion for writing work, but what if I don’t have a passion? It just left me feeling good and bad at the same time.

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