Review of When Sparks Fly by Kristen Zimmer
Britton Walsh grew up in Massachusetts’ foster system. Multiple homes, and less than ideal situations, bring her to the Cahill household during her senior year of high school. Determined to survive yet another home to finally be on her own, she is unprepared for what she finds there. Avery Cahill is a cheerleader and the popular kid at school. She also carries a secret burden that positions her to better connect with Britton. From friendship to more, but only if able to overcome the personal and ethical dilemmas.
Fans of Zimmer’s debut novel had a while to wait, but her second effort is here at last, and for the most part, it did not disappoint. It has been almost eight years since The Gravity Between Us and some of those young readers are in another stage of their lives altogether. I had just started reading lesfic when I read it and loved it. I am curious how many of those readers will enjoy this one too. When Sparks Fly is another Young Adult (YA) story but entirely based in high school, as both mains are seniors. Since I do not read blurbs of books I will read, I was hoping for more of a story beyond that year. I find I enjoy it immensely when the story moves into adulthood.
All that said, the story kept me engaged and only lost me with a bit too many details of high school dances and games. There is good character development, especially for Avery, going from this rich cheerleader stereotype to allowing us to see how kind and thoughtful she really is. Britton narrates the book in first person, and it is great to read about her struggles and insecurities growing up as an unwanted child, but even better to see the unapologetic goodness within her. She is such a good observer and provides fantastic insight into her and others’ emotions. All with a touch of humor.
The constant slang used took me some time to get used to. Please, do not let my daughters talk like that! Also struggled with the thoughts in the middle of the narration. It made for a somewhat hectic recount of things but keeping in mind the character is 18, probably appropriate. The mains were a believably good couple and I found myself rooting for them early on. I absolutely loved Avery’s parents and wish to be like them when I grow up! The main friend, Spencer, was good, but the rest of the two groups of friends got too confusing and honestly, I had no desire to make an effort to remember who was who.
Overall, a sweet YA tale that will have fans of the genre sighing. 4 stars
ARC provided by Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.