Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Destined to Fail by Samantha March

4 Star
Jasmine Jones is ready to begin her new life as a college student, and is ecstatic to have best friend Abby by her side. But weeks into their new college life, Abby drops the bomb- she is pregnant, and dropping out of college. Jasmine can’t handle the fact that Abby is wasting her opportunity to get an education, and going back to her cheating, abusive boyfriend. She struggles to move on from her friendship with Abby, but befriends two new girls at college. Everything seems back on track for Jasmine- great new friendships and roommates, a strong relationship with boyfriend Nate, and excelling at her college courses. But Jasmine’s newfound happiness is shattered when her pregnancy test comes out positive. Does she have to drop out of college now and become a young mother? Will Nate stay with her? How can she afford a child? Jasmine’s life has been filled with obstacles and challenges along the way- from a missing father, sexual and physical abuse, and addictions that tore her family apart. With this latest setback, Jasmine fears her life will always be a struggle. Destined to Fail is one woman’s story about overcoming adversity in life, about taking the negatives and finding a positive, and about never giving up hope. 

Lydia - 4 Star

Destined to Fail grabbed me to the point where I couldn't stop thinking about the main character and her plight. I don't normally read YA, but made an exception in this case as Samantha and I had exchanged some writing a little over a year ago and I was eager to read and review her work and see how Jasmine's story developed. And this is an honest review - I do have some (hopefully helpful) comments below, but overall I really enjoyed this novel!

Destined to Fail grabbed me at the beginning and throughout I madly flipped pages to see what was going to transpire. I loved how Jasmine's character had secrets which were gradually revealed over the course of the novel. There's no easy reading in Destined to Fail, not one piece of fluff to be found.  The topics covered span abuse, addiction and teenage pregnancy and I applaud March for tackling such heavy issues.

There was some repetition that I noticed (sometimes I think I read too fast because this has been cropping up a lot for me lately), mostly involving Jasmine's younger brother being described several times as aloof and too cool as well as Jasmine's refusal to drink at parties. There is a scene with her brother that made my heart ache as he tries to protect her and I kept waiting to see more of their relationship, but it never transpired. There were also some scenes I actually wanted to be privy to that were glossed over including Jasmine's conversation with her mother towards the end of the novel which we are just told occurred, but it was an important one and I really wanted to be in on it.

Jasmine has such a strong positive attitude, regardless of what she had been through which I absolutely adored. She's confident, courageous, and thoughtful and even though she gets sad and why-me sometimes (understandably so), I wanted to see her get really angry at something. A fight with her mom (who is her best friend, which I had a difficult time believing after all she'd been through in her family) or her sister would have endeared her to me a little more I think and made her a bit more believable and fully rounded and is something I expected given her history and the situations she discovers herself in.

The blooming friendship with Kiley and Cari was entirely believable as was their dialogue and I could picture my younger self off at university, making new friends and getting ready to take on the world. I adored her boyfriend Nate and loved that the story didn't center around her finding a boy as he's in her life from the outset of the novel. Destined to Fail moves along at a brisk pace and March does a fabulous job of transporting us into Jasmine's world and her head as she navigates difficult situations that no woman should have to endure. Jasmine's optimism is encouraging and I loved how this story ends.

I definitely think a younger audience would enjoy this novel and when they gain a few more years, I have some younger readers who I'll definitely give Destined to Fail to read. Can't wait to see what Samantha March has in store for us next!

Thank you to Samantha March for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

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