Solid Summer Read

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Sixteen-year-old volleyball star Kaylee Jordan has a plan - finish high school and go pro following in her famous mother's footsteps, while carving out a space to make records of her own. She's used to the comparisons, and spends most of her free time fitting in extra trainings and carefully curating her social media. Her one break is the two week trip to Malibu her family takes every year. The only problem is the trip is with her childhood best friend, Dean, and his parents (as they've been friends since college), and Kaylee just recently unceremoniously dumped Dean after dating for three months. In order to not make things awkward for the entire trip, Kaylee approaches Dean with a plan - she's going to walk him through all the steps for getting over an ex. When Dean begrudgingly agrees, and they spend time going through her tried and true steps, Kaylee can't help but feel like she's starting realize all the reasons they worked so well together, and therefore makes her confront the reasons she broke up with him. As the trip starts to wind down, Kaylee must choose between listening to her heart or letting her head get in the way.

I've read a few books from this married writing duo, and I'll say that Never Vacation With Your Ex is a great summer read for any YA lover. While I do usually prefer dual POV if books are in first person, because it's always interesting to get the other main character's / love interest's perspective on things, I found Kaylee to be an interesting character to follow, specifically in regards to relationships. She's known around school as a person who is constantly dating different guys, and she acknowledges this fact - to her, she's having fun, likes being flirty, but when things start to head in a more serious direction she starts to get scared and is the other to break things off because she understands herself well enough to know that she doesn't want to lead people on. And it was interesting to see her grapple with her feelings for Dean, even after knowing him since childhood. I liked the inclusion of Dean's bisexuality and how it was just another part of his identity, especially when we often see characters' bisexuality erased when they seek out a relationship with someone of a different gender. What I will say is that I didn't appreciate the way the adults discussed Kaylee and Dean's breakup. Both Kaylee and Dean's parents put most, if not all, of the responsibility of the awkward aftermath on Kaylee, and while yes, she was the one to break it off, she, as a teenage high school girl, should not be held solely responsible for the feelings of a teenage boy, and Kaylee did not owe Dean a relationship if she no longer felt any romantic attraction to him. And yes, Kaylee's decision to break up with Dean had more to due with her personal issues with commitment which she needs to work out on her own, but as someone who constantly feels compared to someone else, this is something she feels like she can have some control over. I did really like seeing Kaylee and Dean falling back in love over these two weeks, and while some of the will-they-won't-they felt a bit repetitive it was nice to see them working through the awkwardness to first build back their friendship, and then, when they realize they both are still attracted to each other, reestablish a relationship with a better foundation. So while Never Vacation With Your Ex isn't a new favorite, it was a quick read and perfect for any seasoned YA reader to pick up this summer. *Thanks to BookishFirst and the publisher, Viking Books, for a copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own*