Title: Accidents and Incidents
Author: Riley Graham
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Received for review from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads)
Sometimes finding love means taking the scenic route … Living with her faultfinding mother has taught Leslie not to ask for much. Just watch your step, stay on the sidelines, and take what you can get. But she wants a mom who thanks her for cleaning the kitchen instead of yelling at her for missing a spot, and a boyfriend who does more than score her a seat at the popular table-someone who actually notices her sitting there. So when Cain, the school heartbreaker, turns his Carolina blue eyes her way, Leslie can’t help but be tempted, even if he’s her boyfriend’s best friend. Things get even more complicated when Leslie strikes up unlikely friendships with Meredith, Cain’s girlfriend, and Dennis, a boy addicted to cigarettes and solitude. Despite his tough exterior, Dennis seems to understand Leslie in a way that no one ever has, and to need her as much as she needs him. For the first time in her life, Leslie feels like she could belong. She’s just not sure where.
There are times when I really enjoy cutesy YA Contemporary Romance stories, so I was disappointed not to enjoy this more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible by any stretch – it just felt like it was missing something.
The characters were pretty flat, which was probably the biggest problem. There was the bitchy girl, the nice popular girl, the popular guy who fools around with other girls behind his girlfriend’s back, the mysterious sensitive loner guy, many even more generic ‘friends’ and then Leslie herself, whose sole defining feature seemed to be her ability to say ‘sorry’ in response to everything anyone said to her.
There were several characters who were mentioned more than once who I’d forgotten completely about by the time they popped up again. There were a lot of names being thrown around that didn’t seem to be attached to anything substantial, just vague notions of people that existed outside the sphere of the main character’s perception. Which of course there always will be those people, but they don’t really need to be brought up at all… It all amounted to me wondering if I’d forgotten something important about these people, but then deciding that I didn’t really care anyway.
Every single character also had a tragic past. Which is fine in itself, but this seemed to be the only thing beyond the stereotype school cliques that differentiated the characters. This one had a dead sibling, this one’s dad was a perve, and that one had an alcoholic mother. Nothing in this was ever really dealt with – just mentioned in passing as if that was enough to breathe life into the names on the page.
It just felt a little like the writer didn’t want anything too terrible to happen during the course of her story. Everything bad had happened years ago, and there was just no exploration of it, or impact that it had. Which again isn’t a problem in itself – I’ve read plenty of books where there isn’t anything terrible that happens and have enjoyed them – but why bring it all up if you aren’t going to take the time to explore what it all means and how it influences the characters. This book could have been just as easily served if none of it was ever mentioned.
What I’m trying to say is, this had every ingredient it needed to be a really thoughtful and deep exploration of teenagers and their traumas, the redeeming power of love, and growing up, transitioning to adulthood. But what you got instead was a sweet, easy love story that had about as much depth as a puddle. Again – not necessarily a problem, but my expectations were raised by some of the ideas, and unfortunately not fulfilled, leaving me feeling overall a little dissatisfied.
Not terrible, but not anything to rave about either.