Begin Again by Brittney Mulliner, e-book, 192 pages, published in 2014.
Aubrey Tate is the new girl in school. She has moved in with her brother on the Californian coast after a traumatic incident in her Chicago home. Her mother packs her off quickly, hoping that starting over will allow her to move on from the past. Aubrey falls on her feet, finding a safe haven with her brother, easy transition to school with her cousin, McKayla, and a new dance studio to attend. Though she is trying to leave some boy troubles behind, she quickly finds herself the object of attention for numerous boys at school.
Begin Again is a teen drama. The story follows Aubrey’s new start living with her brother, Brandon, and how she adjusts to her new school, making friends, meeting boys. The plot is simple, but well written. The setting and characters are described in detail allowing the reader to get to know them. The Page’s house sounds divine, and the view from Brandon’s condo is very refreshing (wish I had a view like that!) And, wow, there are a lot of good looking kids at Aubrey’s school! Everyone is so hot, beautiful, gorgeous, tanned…. do people like this really exist in such numbers? And money, money, everywhere. These kids have way too much money for their ages, especially considering not many of them seem to have a job. There are swanky cars and endless wardrobes, huge parties and intimate dates. I was amused by the complex plans the girls put into action to ask the boys to the winter formal, so much effort, but sweet too. Maybe we do things differently in country Australia, but I don’t remember high school quite like that!
Despite being rich and beautiful, both Aubrey and Mckayla seem somewhat oblivious to their assets, and they don’t use what they have to better themselves. They have insecurities and doubts, and spend too much time at the mall, like many teenagers. Aubrey and McKayla are fairly average teenagers, just with plenty of dough to splash about. I liked them both. Their best friends, Alexis and Talia, were also likable, though I felt like I didn’t get to know them as well. For the most popular girls in school they are far nicer and down to earth than expected. On the other hand, Sydney is pretty mean and catty, mostly out of jealousy and spite. She isn’t a nice person, she is just kind of pathetic. So is Aubrey’s mum. She really lacks parenting skills, and is far more concerned about her own image than she is about her daughter. She only wants reflected glory from Aubrey, no hassles or hiccups. This isn’t fair to Aubrey.
As for the boys in Aubrey’s life, there are enough to make life interesting and complicated. Mike is the protector, always defending Aubrey, Luke is the hottest guy in school, but he’s also obsessed by his surfing, and Gage is the mysterious bad boy that everyone warns Aubrey away from. And then there’s Brandon’s best friend, Carter, the older and off-limits man, who may think of Aubrey as just a little sister. They are very diverse, apart from their attractiveness. I’m intrigued by their histories, especially Gage’s. I would have liked a little more background, though their histories may yet be revealed in the next book. I liked them all in different ways, and there were things about all of them that I disliked too, such as Mike’s control issues, or Luke’s instability.
Cliffhanger, anyone? The book ended rather abruptly in the middle of the story! Nothing was resolved, or completed, it just ended. What??? Okay, so there is a sequel, and I started reading the sequel immediately upon completion of Begin Again, but still, I felt a little cheated at the end. There was a nice dramatic twist, but I wanted more, no, I needed more. I now have to find out what happens in Aubrey’s life, what happens with all the boys, her friends, her brother, and her past. The story really drew me in.
This engaging book is best for middle to upper high school students, especially those keen on realistic teen drama. When you get Begin Again, make sure you have the sequel, Live Again, waiting in the wings, you’ll want it straight away!
*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.