Book Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who’s always done what she’s supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
As regular readers know, I am not a huge romance reader. It just really isn’t my thing, in part because I have a hard time buying into the concept of Instalove. Instant attraction, instant lust – these I completely embrace. But the idea that you can genuinely love someone you barely know, not so much. I thought the Promise of Amazing had one of the most believable and natural relationships I had read in a while. Wren and Grayson kind of do this stumbling dance of attraction and revulsion as they come to know one another. It’s not instant, it’s not smooth, but it was completely believable and endearing.
I also really enjoyed reading Wren’s evolution as a character; watching her come into her own and begin to stand up and assert herself, and not just in her relationship with Grayson but in all aspects of her life. At one point she even acknowledges how people may think that her change was because of a boy, but she maintains that in the end she changed for herself, so that she could more fully become herself. To me, there was some very empowering messages here.
Grayson also finds himself on a journey of self discovery brought about in part by his relationship with Wren. In fact, both characters engage in a lot of self exploration and discover. They handle complex family relationships and friendships. And by the end of the story, there is some really good character growth. Grayson in particular is forced to deal honestly with some very huge things in his past, including previous attitudes about girls, an incident that forced him out of the sport he loved and into a new school, and some shady business partners and questionable friends. And Wren must face some very difficult changes including the truth about the family business, which is a place of familiarity and comfort for her, and becoming her own person even if it challenges her relationship with her parents.
In the end, I surprised myself and enjoyed this book. I recommend it to those looking for some realistic romance. I’m not sure it delivered on the promise of amazing, but I think teen readers looking for a little romance will be completely satisfied.
What the Reviewers Said:
Publisher’s Weekly said, “Filled with action, passion, and adolescent angst, Constantine’s novel introduces two believable characters with strong, honest voices who work to find themselves as they chart new territory together.” (Publisher’s Weekly, 11/04/2013)
Published in December 2013 from HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780062279484
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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