About a year ago, I read and absolutely loved a new novel by Rachel Ward, called Dear Jane. So, when she contacted me asking me to read her new novel, Right Next to Me, I jumped at the chance.
This new novel is told from the perspective of Sydney, a new high school graduate. She has a perfect boyfriend, named Gavin, a buddy who shares her love of hiking, James, her popular and fun best friend, Piper, and Piper’s boyfriend, Sean. They are the best of friends, but life isn’t as easy and uncomplicated anymore after graduating high school.
Sydney’s family is also continuing to encounter many struggles – a father who left several years ago, and a mother who is struggling to make ends meet. Sydney has to figure out how to have a bright future while also helping her mother with her siblings and their home.
The book is full of decision-making, decisions which are heart-wrenching at times, and definitely confusing. Sydney is a character many of us can relate to. She is funny and quirky, with a devout love of The Princess Bride, talented in graphic design and baking, passionate about hiking and landscapes, and very unsure and worried about making the right choices.
I loved the way the story was told. It wasn’t in chronological order. It jumped around to different months and years, offering more insight and memories to help us get inside the heads and hearts of the characters. It wasn’t hard to follow at all, and was fun. I didn’t love the italics in the memory chapters, but I imagine they were put there in case the reader didn’t realize the chapter was in the past.
I could tell from the very beginning how the story would end. It was quite obvious which boy Sydney would end up with, but that didn’t keep the story from being engaging and heartfelt.
The book is a very easy read, good for teenagers and above. It isn’t as deep as Dear Jane, but that is okay considering the audience. I enjoyed the novel and loved the characters. I felt for them and related to them. I wanted them to be happy and for things to work out right. Check it out!
After high school Sydney’s friends scattered to different colleges across the country. Over Thanksgiving break they are reunited, and much to Sydney’s surprise, she discovers that her best friend has kept a quiet flame for her for years. Sydney is faced with making an impossible decision: stay with the perfect boyfriend or go for the best friend who has always loved her?
Bio: Rachel grew up reading every book she could get her hands on and spending time with her cat. At least, that was the report in every annual Christmas letter. The humiliation was enough to spur her into action, and she began writing, and never stopped. Rachel studied English at Brigham Young University-Idaho and then blogged and wrote in between the births of her six children. She currently lives in West Jordan with her family, and while she no longer has a cat, she still reads every book she can get her hands on. Right Next to Me is her second novel.