An unusual teen romance with a strong first-person voice that carried me through the full 425 pages at record speed.
Eighteen-year-old Birdie has spent most of her teen years alone. Home-schooled by her grandmother, she doesn’t have any close friends and she’s certainly never had a proper relationship. It’s, therefore, not surprising that she bolts after an unexpected one-night stand with a charismatic stranger. It’s even more unexpected when that stranger turns out to be one of her colleagues at her first ever job. Birdie is the new night auditor at the Cascadia Hotel and Daniel works almost the same shifts as the hotel van driver. Birdie longs to escape but she can’t run away this time. She needs to prove to herself and her grandfather than she can survive the world of work. But how will she survive being around Daniel, especially when he uses all his considerable charm to persuade her to help him investigate a mystery?
This is being pitched as a riveting mystery in which our two main characters try to uncover both the identity of the mysterious individual who checks into the Cascadia Hotel once a week and the reason why that individual only uses the room for such a short period of time. Personally, I found the mystery little more than a plot device that creates an interesting context to explore this unusual teen love story. For me, this story is about Birdie: it’s about her learning to accept herself and learning to cope with, and respond appropriately to, her attraction and blossoming relationship with Daniel.
Fortunately, my lack of interest in the central mystery really didn’t matter. I simply didn’t need it. Birdie’s first-person voice and her fear of walking into “the Most Awkward Moment in Modern History” (and then, of course, ending up a little later in the exact situation she feared) gripped me from chapter one. The voice also easily carried me through the full 425 pages at record speed.
Birdie is one of the most unique characters I’ve read in this genre. While in many respects a typical 18-year-old, in others she’s incredibly distinct. This might be because of her family background, or because she was home-schooled, or maybe because of her sleep problems. I particularly loved the way she shapes everything into a mystery investigation and the way her voice is periodically interrupted by the inclusion of quirky case profiles of all the key characters.
All the other characters are equally well developed and fully believable. Daniel is a wonderful, if flawed, romantic hero and I especially loved the scenes when Birdie goes to visit him unannounced and we’re introduced to his family, including their oversized cat Blueberry. However, without doubt my favourite character is Birdie’s eccentric Aunt Mona. I very much looked forward to every appearance she makes in the book – if only to discover what outlandish outfit she would be wearing!
If you enjoyed this, you might like to read another YA book with a strong central character (and one of my favourite YA books of the year so far) – Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in the mystery element, I’d recommend you try to unpick the clues in The New Boy by Paula Rawsthorne.
Date: May 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Website: Jenn Bennett