When valedictorian-to-be Kylie Flores wakes up next to school hottie Max in a hotel room in Mexico, she knows things have gone…awry. What she can’t figure out is how she got there, and how she’s going to get back to school in time to deliver her graduation speech. Complicating things are the fact that Max’s girlfriend Lily has just walked in on them and is screaming like a banshee. Is there something between her and Max, or was it just a meaningless drunken hookup?
Told in alternating perspectives between several of the main characters, Valerie Thomas and Stacy Kramer’s From What I Remember has been described as a teen version of The Hangover. While this is technically true based on the premise alone, there’s certainly a plethora of ways this book diverges from its comparison material. Funny, smart, and fast-paced, this is a summer read that teens are likely to eat right up and ask for more (which is good, because the book’s already been optioned to become a film).
It’s clear from the onset that the book’s authors have a history in movies and film. Each chapter starts with a quote from a movie, and Kylie and her best friend Will constantly quote movies when they hang out. These moments were fun for me as a reader, simply because they fed my pop culture ego, but teens who don’t have a solid history with movies might find them irrelevant. There’s also the issue of how dated some of these references will be in just a few years, but that’s beside the point. The novel’s fast, breezy tone will hook readers and keep them reading despite the book’s questionable length.
Because the novel is told from so many different perspectives, readers are treated to a variety of viewpoints. The characters run the gamut of diversity here, and while it’s questionable whether or not so many gay teens would choose to come out in so short a period of time, the novel’s relationships feel authentic. There might be one or two too many subplots, but most readers will be willing to overlook it in the name of a good story.
Fun, and despite lagging in the middle third, a pretty quick read. It’s a great companion novel for those looking for an unconventional love story or a crazy road trip full of shenanigans. Recommended for reluctant readers especially.
From What I Remember by Valerie Thomas and Stacy Kramer. Hyperion: 2012. Library copy.