Final Draft by Riley Redgate
What I drank prior: Sam and I went to a steakhouse and drank an amazing Malbec. And then came home and had a little bit more wine. So, lots of wine.
Spoiler-free Overview: Laila is a high-school student who has the book and movie stereotypical three best friends (this is a minor pet-peeve of mine. It’s rare that a friendgroup is only four people – eveyone I went to school with had a few different friendgroups even if only loosely acquainted due to various classes). She wants to write sci-fi and has been working with her favorite teacher for years to correct and update a chapter at a time. Early in the book her creative writing teacher (aka her favorite teacher) is in a freak car-accident and suddenly her safe zone disappears. The new teachers pushes her to go outside of her comfort zone which errodes her safe space even further. This is a book that deals with depression and sexuality and the fear of losing creativity and its kind of beautiful.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I think I’ve already mentioned a few things. I get tired, in books, when it seems like people only have a small group of friends. That being said, Laila’s friends; Hannah, Leo, and Fitz (not positive about this last one – I took actual notes on this one but they’re a whole three feet away from me and I’m feeling very lazy) all seem to have additional friends. Which is quite nice to see. One of the things that I liked best in this book was the was the Laila described the feelings that came from a lack of relationships. As someone who didn’t date in high school and rarely dated in college the way it was written about struck me as incredibly accurate. Even beyond that, this book dealt with a number of incredibly delicate topics without being overbearing. Laila deals with a number of horrible things happening. Things start going bad when she feels the need to move further away from her friends. And of course, things start getting better when she realizes those friends are all in her corner.
Characters: So, I’ve already covered Laila. She’s pretty introverted and shy, has lived a sheltered life and until partly into the book had no reason to want to change that. The other characters that matter are Hannah her best friend (and not so-surprisingly love0interest) who is flightly and little to sharp without meaning to be, Leo who is calm and cool and biggest character trait is having a girlfriend at another school, and then Fitz who I remember nothign about except that he has beef with the ‘cool-guy in school.’ The characters each feel individual and fleshed out. The creative teacher could have used a little bit more filling out (this really means the first creative writer and not the second, she seemed pretty fleshed out)
Plot: This is one of those small scale books. This book doesn’t cover an apocalypse level situation (becuase boy have I been reading a lot of those recently) and it takes place over just a few months. It really feels like it’s set in high school with all the emotions that come with it. Laila is trying to figure out how to deal with all the changes she is dealing with and will continue to deal with.
Writing Style: Hell yeah Bildungsroman (Editor’s Note: gesundheit.) It was quite lyrical. Because Laila is an aspiring author, the writing style feels like poetry at times. The descriptions are beautiful and in-depth without being tiresome (whenever I think of an overabundance of descriptions I think of Outlander which I tried reading and gave up on after 50 pages of descriptions of landscaping). I didn’t much care for the story within the story, it changed dramatically and I found myself having trouble finding through-lines.
World Building: As I mentioned before, this book did a great job of making this novel feel like a high school (except for the second creative writing teacher. I didn’t find her position there believable which would make more sense once you read this) and the teenage dramas reminded me of some of the issues I had with friends.
What to pair it with: A rail drink of some kind, let’s say an amaretto sour. It’s the kind of drink that’s overly sweet and easy to drink with a very slight bite.
Rating: 3.5/5 super cute and parts of it made an impact but I don’t think this is a book I’m going to be thinking about in a month.
Enjoy the review and stay warm out there!