Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Wilson Mooney series by Gretchen de la O

Almost Eighteen ~ Our 4 star review

Don’t you love it when you find an unexpected gem of a book?  I went into this book having no idea what it was about.  I was pleasantly surprised at what awaited me.

Wilson Mooney is almost 18.  She will be 18 in a month.  She has no family – her mother left Wilson with her grandparents in exchange for the path of drugs and Wilson has no idea who her father is.  Within the last 6 months, both grandmother and grandfather have died.  Without any family, Wilson has made the best of her life and wouldn’t want any part of her life to be changed.  Wilson is a senior at a privileged private school and is in lust with her 22-year-old government teacher, Max Goldstein.

Wilson is invited to spend a weekend in Aspen with her high-maintenance/high-society roommate, Cindy.   Turns out Mr. Goldstein is going to be at Aspen during the same time…

“He and I were going to meet in Aspen and have dinner, even if he didn’t know it yet.”

Once Cindy and Wilson arrive in Colorado they are met by Nick, Cindy’s half brother, at the airport.  He is paid to be Cindy’s driver by Cindy’s father.  There is a lot of friction between Nick and Cindy.  Turns out the parents left for the weekend so the kids are home alone.  Time to call in the friends for a party!

Friends arrive and a friend brings along his brother to the party of underage drinkers.  What a surprise this guest turns out to be.  It’s Mr. Goldstein!   And Mr. Goldstein has a confession to tell Wilson:

“When I look at you I see the girl I want to be with. Have since the first day you walked into my room.”

Over the next two days a fast-paced romance begins between Max and Wilson.  It’s a hide-and-seek romance keeping it away from Cindy, as Cindy would call them out once they return back to school.  Cindy uses everything to her advantage and this would definitely give her an A in the class and cost Max his job.

I loved all the secondary characters.  Cindy only thinks of herself and uses everything to her advantage.  Max’s brother, Calvin, helps his brother with the game of hide and seed.  Nick exhibits more than feelings of friendship to Wilson.  At first in a comical approach…  “I just want to make sure you’re comfortable with the blanket you’re sleeping with. Sometimes you might have to change blankets to get cozy and comfortable.”  Then in a more serious tone… “I’m a chauffeur for my bitch half-sister and sadly enough, I didn’t end up with the girl.” 

The weekend has to end and Max and Wilson need to return to school.  What will happen?  Max is a strong person who encourages Wilson to believe that everything will be alright upon their return.

“Wilson, think of this as the beginning. Not the end.”

Unfortunately, hurtful words are said by Wilson to Cindy upon their return to school and Cindy is vindictive and will carry a grudge.   Does Cindy suspect anything? 

I enjoyed the humorous internal monologue Wilson had with herself.  A large portion of the beginning of the book was more internal dialogue than spoken dialogue, but it held my interest.   I could feel the butterflies in Wilson’s stomach as she described every breath-taking moment and moments of bliss with innocent and not so innocent touches by Max.   Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down.  It drew me in from the beginning and now I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Wilson and Max in book 2. 

Eighteen At Last - Our 4 star review

When we left off with Wilson, she and Max had headed back to school and were doing a good job at keeping their relationship a secret, although evil roommate Cindy started to speculate a hidden romance due to finding Wilson’s phone.   Now it is one month later and Max is returning to his family’s cabin in Aspen with Wilson to celebrate her 18th b-day.   To celebrate, Max has an evening of special firsts for Wilson.

Wilson has never had a family other than her grandparents and they are no longer living.  Her mother abandoned Wilson at the age of 8.  Max’s family is very loving and has accepted Wilson with open arms, although the family doesn’t know the truth that Max is Wilson’s teacher.   Wilson embraces the feeling of being included into this family and the love they have shown her.  Wilson especially adores Max’s mom. 

“There was something about her that filled the gaping holes my bio-mom had left in my soul.”

Just when the evening is leading into a very romantic first for Wilson, a family tragedy occurs.  This tragedy is the cornerstone for what happens during the remainder of the book. 

Max and his family are suddenly thrown into despair, a feeling that Wilson knows all too well.  Max’s younger brother, Calvin, is considered a black sheep in the family and was in a constant fall-out with his father.  Calvin is angry and hurt with his family and decides to out Max’s and Wilson’s secret.   Max’s mom is upset…to say the least.

“Come on, Max—did the reputation of our family even cross your mind?... You lied to me—and you lied to your father.”

Wilson makes a quick decision after hearing this conversation.  Wilson hates that she lied to Max’s mom and the disappointment that his mom feels.  Wilson feels the need to leave and disappear from Max’s life.  Wilson calls Nick, a friend who also is Cindy’s half brother.  If you remember from the first book, Nick expressed his romantic interests to Wilson and was disappointed in the rejection.  Nick comes to get Wilson and Wilson walks away.

Following this departure, Wilson is weak and just wants to feel part of somebody.  She wants to numb the pain of loss that she feels.   Wilson wants to stop hurting.  Wilson makes a bad decision.  Unfortunately, Cindy is a witness to Wilson’s poor choice and is vindictive and uses it to hurt Wilson. 

Although one can say that Wilson made two poor decisions in this book – the first one being when she left Max, we have to remember that she is only 18.  She doesn’t know anything other than people leaving her.   I did find the book to be much slower than the first one to pull me in at the beginning, but when the pivotal moment came I couldn’t stop reading.  I’m anxiously awaiting book 3.

“Suddenly she was an eight year old girl standing there, abandoned, and waiting for me to come back. My eyes burst open. Holy shit, what the hell did I do?”  -- Max, Epilogue

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