Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: Cross My Heart by Katie Klein

Title: Cross My Heart
Series: Cross My Heart #1
Author: Katie Klein
Published: March 14,2011
Format: E-book
Author's Website:
Purchase the book: Amazon B&N
True love can blossom in unexpected places. This is Jaden pretending not to notice. . . .

Jaden McEntyre and Parker Whalen are a wrong fit from the start. Jaden is driven and focused, Harvard Med School within reach. Parker has a past-a reputation-and the rumors about his mysterious habits abound. So there's no reason why, when they're assigned to work together on a project in English, they should discover they have anything in common, or even like each other, and they definitely shouldn't be falling in love.

As they bond over Edith Wharton's tragic novella, Ethan Frome, the "bad boy" vibe Parker plays begins to dissipate. Soon, Jaden finds herself shedding her own "good girl" image: sneaking around to be with him, confiding in him, and ultimately falling hard for this leather-wearing, motorcycle-driving loner who plays into the rebel stereotype.

Still, Jaden can't shake the feeling that there's more to Parker than he's letting on. He's hiding something from her, and discovering the truth means reconciling the Parker she's grown to love with the person he really is. Because it's possible that his life inside the classroom-everything Jaden knows-is one, massive lie. 

It's been five years since I last reviewed this selection.  I was a socially awkward, yet book addicted, twelve year old who was in complete adoration of this novel.  Now, I am seventeen and assigned to read Ethan Frome for an English class.  Memories hit me, and I start reminiscing of a book from my childhood in which Ethan Frome was the nucleus.  I ventured into the dusty corners of my nook book shelf until I found the desired: Cross My Heart.  I reread the tale of Parker Whalen and Jayden McEntyre and decided it was best to  re-review the novel. As my maturity level has changed, my perspective of the book has altered also.  Here is my take two of Cross My Heart.

Cross My Heart's opening paragraph introduces the first of much (loved) symbolism. 
"Never underestimate the power of glitter....... Because glitter can take any work in progress to that next level.  It hides the most glaring of imperfections, works to bring out the best in everything.  It takes the ordinary and turns it into something interesting and beautiful." 
Glitter symbolizes the act that Jaden feels  necessary to uphold.  She is the good girl, the girl that has her life together, perfect.  As the story unravels, we see that the Jayden's "glitter" façade falling away and revealing  her dysfunctional, normal life.
"....I immediately remember taping my poster to the front of the table (only a spattering of glitter remaining now)...."

The aforementioned novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton plays a crucial part in the central theme of the book.  It is constantly referred to by both main characters, and often, they compare their relationship to the novel itself. 
""You know.... I don't think Ethan did it on purpose." 
"Did what?"
"Fell for Mattie."
"Why not?"
"Because I don't think he did.  I don't think you can control something like falling in love." 
Ethan and Mattie had a dysfunctional relationship, and it ended in a tragic ending because Ethan couldn't act upon his feelings due to morals.  Parker feels the same kind of attraction to Jayden, and it is apparent throughout the entire novel.  Will Parker blatantly ignore his growing attraction for Jayden, or will he confess he has fallen completely in love with the Harvard-bound girl? We are left in suspense throughout the novel because we don't get a straight forward on their relationship til the last chapter of the book. (And no, you better not skip to the last page to see what happens.)

There is a key element to this book that caused several reviewers to down grade their rating of the book.  I  personally felt this little "surprise" made this book even more enjoyable.  It took it past the a-typical high school young adult novel to a new level with an excellently played out twist. I'll just say- I was shocked, but it all makes sense now. I didn't hate Parker after this incident like many of my fellow reviewers. In fact, I will say that I grew to understand his character to a better degree.  I wish I could ramble more into the depth of my thoughts on this particular subject, but I don't want to provide any spoilers. 
Katie does a spectacular job in the development and staying true to her characters.  Jaden never exactly waivers from her beliefs.  She doesn't change who she is as a person due to the influence of bad boy Parker Whalen.  She does, however, learns it is okay to be human.  People can't be perfect.   Parker is the excellently portrayed and much deeper than the typical high school senior.   He is unlike any other protagonist I've encountered in Young Adult literature.  I don't know how to explain Parker Whalen other than you have to read about him.  He isn't your typical motorcycle ridin', sailor mouthed bad-boy.  He is better than that; he is more than that.

I honestly believed I loved this book more the second time around.  I could relate to Jaden.  I'm a junior in high school, and the real world is coming full-speed ahead toward me.  It's scary and uncertain. She can relate. We share similar beliefs and thoughts, and she is a believable character.  The older I've grown, the more I mentally demand a book develop relationships past instant love.  This book is that, and more.  Jayden and Parker don't make eye contact, and suddenly realize, they want to have twenty kids and big white house. No,  their love develops, and it's like magic, how many ways this book is perfect.  Seriously, you have to get a copy of it and read it.  It's glorious.

 You also need to go pick up a copy of Collateral Damage, so you can get inside of Parker's point of view.  His mind is a Mecca. I've provided links to the author's website and links to purchase Cross My Heart!