Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett

“I come out here because of all that, and because look at this place,” he says, gesturing toward the trees. “It’s serene. When Ansel Adams said, ‘I believe in beauty,’ he was here, in the Sierras. Maybe even walking this same path.”

I picked up Starry Eyes because I enjoyed Bennett’s novel from last year, Alex, Approximately. She has a knack for contemporary young adult books that makes her stand out from the crowd. Her novel’s concepts are unique in a way that most contemporary YA fails to achieve and while there is always a little romance, her characters and (in this case especially) her settings speak for themselves.

Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends turned maybe something more when a misunderstanding at Homecoming results in radio silence for nearly a year. Then, while camping in the back-country  at the end of the summer, they are separated from the rest of their group and are forced to hike out with only each other as company.

I really liked Zorie – especially her quirky internal dialogue, her passion for astronomy and her relationship with her step-mother (her other mother passed away when she was little). Her relationship with Lennon seems easy & I could immediately see their connection. But perhaps my favorite part of Starry Eyes is the focus on the outdoors. I’m a camping girl myself and it was refreshing to read about young people experiencing the outdoors instead of being plugged into some device. I could relate easily to the quiet of the mountains and the pleasant/not-so-pleasant burning in your legs from hiking too long.

Sure this book was not perfect and some things bothered me a little. I appreciate that the outdoors can be dangerous if you are not prepared or don’t know what you’re doing. But in general, disastrous events aren’t that common. I felt like literally everything that could go wrong for Zorie and Lennon did. As an inexperienced back-packer, that might have scared me off of camping for a while. Also, I loved Zorie’s mother. She was amazing, smart, understanding and honest. I cannot for the life of me understand why she was in a relationship with Zorie’s father – who was NONE of those things.

All in all, Bennett is always a fun read. Sign me up for the next one! Serious Moonlight out in 2019.



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