Published by Penguin on March 17th 2015
Genres: Family, General, Love & Romance, Politics & Government, Young Adult
Pages: 400 •Source: Library
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron SorkinKate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.
This is the BEST contemporary YA novel I’ve read so far in 2015!
I don’t say this lightly. I requested this book on a whim from my library when I saw this novel was being compared to The Princess Diaries (and you all know what a weakness I have for Meg Cabot). The novel follows a teenage girl, Kate, who finds out her absentee dad is a senator, specifically a senator who is running for president. Kate is thrust into the limelight when an anonymous source leaks this to the press during the high profile campaign, and what follows is almost 400 pages of perfection: strong characterization, political intrigue, compelling family dynamics, and a dash of romance. The Wrong Side of Right is literally the whole package.
This story is intelligent.
I love this story because it delves so deeply into so many issues. It’s fast paced, and the reader feels Kate’s stress and exhilaration at being thrown headfirst into a political campaign (when she has mixed feelings on her own political views). The relationships are also emotionally complex and explored wonderfully throughout the novel, from Kate trying to reconcile her morally upstanding mother with being the senator’s “other woman” to Kate’s attempts at navigating a relationship with an extremely educated stepmother who often reads her better than she reads herself. I especially found Kate’s struggle with her liberal minded family and community back in LA to be especially poignant, as her association with her Republican senator father slowly tarnishes her credibility with those closet to her. Kate herself is a smart and strong young lady who I never had to be convinced to like, as she’s relateable enough to engage the reader while portraying just the right amounts of courage, fortitude, and (sometimes) indecision and impulsiveness to really feel like a young adult written for young adults.
The political aspects are well balanced.
The Wrong Side of Right doesn’t hit you over the head with conservative beliefs and propaganda. Kate has many democratic beliefs herself, and readers are never given the sense that she is compromising her beliefs even when she chooses to stand by her family. (Mini Spoiler: The one element that did surprise me is that Thorne chooses to avoid the sticky topic of pro-life vs pro-choice by conveniently making Kate’s father take a pro-choice stance, which is not normally associated with Republicans. Not that I’m necessarily complaining because it’s great to see progressive stances being taken by the right, but I almost feel this may have been done for the sake of avoiding focusing on such a hot-button social issue in a YA novel). Kate manages to find both the flaws and the great strengths in her father’s party as well as the democratic party, and I never felt while reading that one side was being bashed or given preference to over another. Readers affiliated with either political party can probably read this novel without being offended.
The political drama is also well balanced with the personal drama that unfolds in the story. It was so interesting to see how the campaign functioned, from the various tour stops to the usurping of other politician’s events to the way everything had a “spin” put on it. It’s clear Thorne did her research as to what it’s really like for the children and teens of powerful politicians, and how just because they’re minors by no means exempts them from the glare of their parent’s spotlight. The behind the scenes aspect of the race for the presidency is really what makes this novel stand out for me, and I think it would be a fun niche in YA if Thorne continued to write novels about young adults involved, whether directly or indirectly, in the political spotlight!
It has the trinity of every good story: romance, friendship, and family
Oftentimes a book will focus on just ONE of these things and can still be great. However, The Wrong Side of Right has all three elements and made me care about all of them. This novel is about all of the things in ordinary life being thrown into an extraordinary situation, which is my favorite type of contemporary because I can relate to it but also fantasize about certain elements as well.
Overall: The Wrong Side of Right is smart, funny, and deals with complex relationship dynamics and the intense (and sometimes ugly) sides of political campaigns. It’s a well balanced look at politics and relationships, and focuses on so many aspects of the life of a teenager. At almost 400 pages it never feels slow or like it contains filler content, despite being on the longer side for a contemporary. It’s an amazing debut and I can already tell that Jenn Marie Thorne is going to be one of my new favorite authors! I will be definitely be buying a copy to add to my shelves!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge