Mini Reviews | Never Saw You Coming (ARC) and The Jasmine Project

Posted January 24, 2022 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Books, Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Reviews | Never Saw You Coming (ARC) and The Jasmine ProjectNever Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
Published by Wednesday Books on September 7, 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Religion
Pages: 310 •Format: E-ARCSource: NetGalley

Raised by conservative parents, 18-year-old Meg Hennessey just found out her entire childhood was a lie. Instead of taking a gap year before college to find herself, she ends up traveling north to meet what’s left of the family she never knew existed.

While there, she meets Micah Allen, a former pastor’s kid whose dad ended up in prison, leaving Micah with his own complicated relationship about the church. The clock is ticking on Pastor Allen’s probation hearing and Micah, now 19, feels the pressure to forgive - even when he can’t possibly forget.

As Meg and Micah grow closer, they are confronted with the heavy flutterings of first love and all the complications it brings. Together, they must navigate the sometimes-painful process of cutting ties with childhood beliefs as they build toward something truer and straight from the heart.
In Erin Hahn’s Never Saw You Coming, sometimes it takes a leap of faith to find yourself.

As a former Religious Studies major during my undergrad years, I am always intrigued by YA novels that tackle the topic of religion, though many popular titles in the past few years have seemed to focus more on the extreme side (Devoted, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, The Project, etc.). I was intrigued to read a novel where the religious aspects seemed more naturally woven in with the contemporary elements, which is definitely the case in Never Saw You Coming, which follows 18 year old protagonist Meg as she strikes out on her own for the first time in a bit of crisis of faith after finding out a deeply buried family secret.

Though I didn’t always agree with Meg or her love interest, Micah, I appreciated that the story was a coming of age tale of two teenagers who are struggling with their faith and relationship with their church in different ways, and have to work through those issues not just for themselves but in order to have their relationship work as well. They both go through a reckoning of having to unlearn certain lessons, morals and beliefs that were impressed upon them at a young age and examine which align with their personalities and how they want to live their lives, and which ones don’t. I think it’s a brave topic to explore in a mainstream YA novel as religion is so personal and at times controversial in its execution and interpretation, but for many teens I imagine it’s a huge part of coming into their own as a young adult, which is a perfect fit for the themes of the YA genre in general.

That being said, there were elements of the book that while sweet, didn’t always hold my attention, such as Micah and Meg’s budding romance with working next door to each other (at an outdoor sporting goods store and a bakery, respectively), the stereotypical mean girl ex-girlfriend, nosy, interfering neighbors, etc. I was really intrigued by the journey both Meg and Micah had with exploring their own beliefs and limitations and processing complicated emotions about their faith, and that’s really what stood out for me with this book, rather than the contemporary romance element.

Overall: A contemporary YA story that tackles religious themes and conservatism without impressing beliefs/preaching at the reader, I think Never Saw You Coming is unique in the vast sea of contemporary releases. I do hope we continue to see books that tackle religion in such a nuanced way being released!

Mini Reviews | Never Saw You Coming (ARC) and The Jasmine ProjectThe Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 7, 2021
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400 •Format: E-BookSource: Overdrive

Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.
But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.
The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.
But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.

This one was cute! I loved the Bachelorette style premise, the diversity, and Jamine’s huge, meddling family (seriously, the group texts that were mixed in with the narrative were so hilarious). While the premise of Jasmine’s family setting her up (unbeknownst to her) with three bachelors is definitely problematic since she’s kept in the dark, it definitely lead to some hilarious shenanigans, and it was fun seeing how Jasmine interacted with each guy differently yet grew more confident in different ways with each respective relationship. Especially when juxtaposed against how she acted, and was treated, by her ex- it honestly made my blood boil, yet I totally get how vulnerable of a time being 18ish is and many readers will no doubt empathize with Jasmine’s experience being in a toxic relationship and yet finding it hard to walk away.

A unique element I enjoyed about the book is that it took place during the summer between high school and college, which is a tricky yet also exciting time full of growth and self-discovery, and I felt Jasmine has the perfect balance of still being naive and needing her family, but also learning to trust her own instincts and start to make adult decisions for herself. I am always a proponent of more YA set post-high school (since NA might never truly become a “thing”) and thought this was a fun and sweet way to do it!

Overall: A cute, funny read that will especially appeal to readers who enjoy reality tv shows and recap podcasts. Sweet, but not exceptionally memorable for me.

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