Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Keywords: New York, first love, friendship
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
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This was one of those covers I adored from the moment I saw it, and I knew I'd push it up on my TBR and make sure to get to it because it was just so beautiful.
The book is told in past tense, and the narrator is clear from the beginning that she's grown a lot from the moment that the story happens, and she's telling it to us with more knowledge and experience down the line. Starry Nights has this intriguing nostalgic personality reflecting back on past decisions and mistakes everyone can resonate with during their first experience with love.
Wren and her friends' group dynamic was wonderful. They didn't always get along, they didn't always tell each other everything, but they truly cared about one another, and I thought that was wonderful. They'd been friends for forever, and they all had their own battles as they got older and realized more about themselves. Wren had a difficult time keeping in touch, Farah distanced herself and kept secrets, Reagan lied and snuck around, and Charlie fell out of the loop a lot. I thought this was so realistically done, and it wasn't sugar coated. This has happened to my friends when they started dating. My single friend and I began to stick together in high school because the rest of the group was off doing other things with their new partners, and it's true that they didn't really have time for us. It made us sad, sure, but we weren't perpetually angry. Like the Turtles (what these characters called their group), we knew we were friends in the long run even though we went through some rough patches.
This book really just has an incredibly honest voice that made me feel for Wren. I was happy for her, then I was mad at her, then I wanted to hug her. She told the story so well that we knew what was going to inevitably happen, but it was still shocking to finally read the truth, even though you know what it's going to be all along.
One of the biggest complaints (okay, only from a couple people, but still) was that they didn't understand how Wren could just drop things. Like her friends or her plans, and she took off without a care in the world for anything. But this is a story told from the point of view that she knew it was wrong after the fact. It was her first love, and she didn't know what else to do. At the time, it seemed right because her friends were making similar decisions. I got angry, but I never hated the book for what Wren was doing. In fact, that made me like it more, because it was spot on to decisions people make in real life and screw up.
This was a really wonderful story of growth, companionship, and sticking by your friends no matter what, and I think it's perfect for the fall school season as it kind of takes place over the course of a school year. The characters are its stand out quality, and the book is predictable in a good way. It's Gillies' narrative style that draws you in, and you don't care what happens because you feel tied to the characters no matter what.