by Debra Caldwyl
Young Adult Romance
Ysabela Mayorga McLain is the 17-year-old reigning “Math Queen” and food cart entrepreneur of Mesa High School’s junior class. Sharp-tongued with a razor-keen intellect, her spiky exterior hides a soft heart and nagging worry about her family and future. All the popcorn in the world can’t pay for college.
Omar de la Vega is the scion of the realty powerhouse DLV Enterprises, Los Arcos’ hottest real estate development firm. His family owns half of Los Arcos. But the ASB Vice President would give it all up for a chance to explore uncharted stars.
When a scholarship contest offers an opportunity to “Reach for the Stars,” sparks fly between the two rivals as they fight for the chance to overcome their own personal gravity wells. Can they escape the weight of financial and family expectations that hold them down?
Everyone needs a launch window.
First a disclaimer: Debra is the daughter of my friend, Barbara Clark, but I wouldn’t be reviewing this book if I hadn’t really liked it. I bought the Kindle version for my iPad.
Ysa and Omar are both sympathetic characters. Ysa is smart, really smart in math and science, but her potential exceeds her aspirations. Coming from a relatively poor family in an upscale California beach town colors her perceptions. After school, she mans her nana’s food cart, and makes plans with her best friend to expand the business after attending a state college. When the “find a planet” contest is announced, she has to adjust her schedule and get up earlier in the morning to find time on the school computers.
Omar, her intellectual match and nemesis, is always there, competing for all he’s worth, despite the fact that his father can afford to pay his attention. Barbs and sparks fly between the two science nerds, but Omar is dating mean girl Gloria, the queen bee of the school and another pain in Ysa’s behind.
Caldwyl is a teacher, so knows what she’s writing about. In an Author’s Note, she notes that the planet contest was inspired by Zooniverse.org‘s Planet Hunters Project, though her version of the contest “differs wildly from the real thing”.
I liked the fact that the characters reflect the ethnic diversity in Southern California. The romance is sweet and believable, and the reader roots for Ysa to succeed despite the odds. And the ending is very romantic. A well-written, enjoyable debut novel, recommended for fans of young adult romance.
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in the Barrie Summy Book Review Club. This month, I have promised myself that I will get to everyone’s reviews.
What have you been reading? Feel free to share in the comment area.