A teen love story with an appealing first-person voice, strong characterisation, and intriguing plot.
Josie Saint Martin has spent the last five years being dragged from one city to another by her mother, often with only a moments notice. Now seventeen, she’s finally moving back to the small New England town where she grew up. But Josie knows it unlikely to last and she’s determined not to get too attached – to either the place or the people. Instead, she has a plan: she’s going to graduate from high school, save the money from her part-time job, and head west to Los Angeles. She just needs to persuade her internationally famous father that she’s got that talent to merit a photography apprenticeship with him. It’s all simple. Simple until a chance encounter throws Josie back together with her former childhood best friend, Lucky Karras. Despite his carefully cultivated rebel image, it’s obvious to Josie that Lucky hasn’t changed. He’s still full of kindness, humour and can see straight through the wall she’s built around herself. The only thing that has changed is their friendship has the potential to be something more: there’s an undeniable chemistry between the two teens. But can the attraction lead to anything more given Josie’s plan to leave?
I’ve only read one other of Jenn Bennett’s books – Serious Moonlight – and I raced through that at top speed, fascinated by both main characters and desperate to know how their ill-fated relationship might develop. This new book shares many of the same characteristics and was equally easy to read. I was immediately pulled in by Josie’s first-person voice and again almost instantly attached to the two main characters. Indeed, there are clear parallels between Josie and Lucky in this book and Birdie and Daniel in Serious Moonlight. (Although they remain strong and distinct characters in their own right).
While I thoroughly enjoyed Serious Moonlight, I’ve rated Chasing Lucky higher because the plot feels more substantial. Details of both Josie and Lucky’s backstory are skilfully woven into the story, creating a level of intrigue that made me desperate to know more. Why has Josie’s mother spent the last five years skipping between towns? What happened in the fight between Josie’s grandmother and mother on the day they so abruptly left town? What exactly happened to Lucky when he was twelve and why does he still feel guilty? How did the town’s rich boy, Adrian, obtain the nude images of Josie’s mum when she was Josie’s age? The questions go on and I was seriously impressed when each and every one of these seemingly disparate strands was smoothly brought together in the book’s climax.
If you enjoyed this, I’d recommend you read Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another character-driven teen novel with a strong central character why not try Paper Avalanche or All About Mia by Lisa Williamson.
Publication Date: June 2020
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Author’s website: Jenn Bennett