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Just Like a Musical by Milena Veen

Just Like a Musical

by Milena Veen

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Seventeen year old Ruby Fields, a shy and somewhat isolated girl, has little excitement in her life - aside from her mother's constant panicked worry that she'll catch her death of cold. Other than her tutor, her only friend is their new neighbor Mrs. Wheeler, a seventy-eight year old recent transplant from Los Angeles. Ruby, who often feels like she was born in the wrong era, feels an instant kinship with Mrs. Wheeler, delighting in the stories the old woman tells of her time in Hollywood during the Golden Age of film. And then she meets Joshua.

The strange, beautiful boy in the park takes her by surprise, both with his apparent interest and his wholly inappropriate words and actions. He behaves strangely and calls her a moron, something that hurts until he explains that he has Tourette syndrome. He's odd, fascinating, unpredictable, and a bit old-fashioned, and she can't get him out of her mind.

When Mrs. Wheeler is suddenly hospitalized, Ruby is determined to give her the one thing it seems she missed out on in life, but it seems the only way she can do that is to slip from her mother's overprotective grasp and travel halfway across the country. With Joshua by her side every step of the way, a favor for a friend soon becomes a journey of self-discovery and first love.

It's no secret that I love to read. Sometimes the stories I read are fun, sometimes they're filled with action and suspense, sometimes they're love like crazy, and sometimes they're just disappointing. And then there are the stories that are so well-written, each word crammed tight with feeling, each line like poetry, and they remind me why I love to read in the first place. Just Like a Musical is just that kind of book.

I was immediately fascinated with Ruby, with her off-kilter yet spot-on observations, her sadly solitary life, and her yearning for adventure. She's impossible not to love, from her juvenile insecurities to her silver screen references, and despite her depressing upbringing, there's an openness to hope that pours from her character. Joshua, too, is quirky and sweet, and his subtle pursuit of Ruby makes for one of the most endearing romances I've read.

While their story certainly falls into the coming-of-age category and includes some fun, some romance, and even some angst, it's so much better than what I expected. Girl-meets-boy-and-goes-on-road-trip has been done a million times before, but not like this. What could have been an enjoyable read filled with the usual clichés is instead a subtle climb, a story that quietly grabs your attention before you even realize you've been hooked. The writing is unique, describing even empty streets with poetic accuracy that makes you feel rather than simply see the world through Ruby's eyes. And the romance is young, innocent, and altogether enchanting in a way that it can only be when you're seventeen, when life is still filled with possibilities, and you're anything but jaded.

If you're looking for the standard road trip plot, where something inevitably changes between two characters during a night in a nameless hotel, this story is not it. It's above the clichés, weaving together an inexperienced girl, a charming boy, and a unique cast of characters in a simple tale of growing up and stepping out into the world.

***FicCentral received this book from YA Bound Book Tours for free in exchange for an honest review. Even so, we're far too opinionated to let a freebie influence our thoughts or the contents of the reviews we post here. ( )
  ysar | Jul 8, 2015 |
Free on Kindle. This is a little bit different. Spoilers. The main character has just graduated from high school. She meets a guy who has Tourette's and they become good friends. She befriends the elderly woman who lives across the street and has lots of stories about a life in show business.
  franoscar | Apr 28, 2014 |
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