BOOK REVIEW: Return to Me, by Justina Chen

return to meDate(s) read: January 8, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary


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Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She’s weeks away from starting college–at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad’s last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there’s the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.

And if that isn’t enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb’s dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her “perfect” boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?

Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what’s truly in your heart.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me a copy of this book for review!

When I read Justina Chen’s past effort, North of Beautiful, I fell in love with her writing. I loved reading the story about Terra and how she had to overcome her own struggles to find out what she wanted in life — it was a moving read and ever since I looked forward to Justina’s next book.

Return to Me was beautiful and moving. The instant I started reading it, I was taken with Justina’s accessible writing and her characters. I fell in love with Reb quickly and felt for her and her family during their struggle after the move to be closer to her dad’s new job. Honestly, some of the things that happened I didn’t see coming! 

I loved that all of the characters in the story weren’t perfect — they all had things they needed to work on and I appreciated the way each of them chose to work to overcome their struggles. Yes, Reb might have had a lot of opportunities at her fingertips — most of which the average person wouldn’t be able to take advantage — but I still really enjoyed seeing her journey to really accept herself first before she accepted anyone else.

One of the great things about Justina’s novels is that while there is romance, it’s not the front and foremost thing. The main thing of her novels seems to be finding yourself, because really, to accept anyone else you must accept yourself first. One thing that is in Justina’s books is relationships and I really enjoyed seeing the relationships between Reb and her mother, or Reb and her grandfather — and even Reb and her brother. That feeling of really being connected to the people you love and having a sturdy homebase is what did it for me. Things might be crumbling and in those times you find the people who really matter.

Of course, that meant that I would tear up on numerous occasions throughout the book — one of those occasions a very short ways into the story. There were situations that broke my heart, some that had my smiling because I could relate, and others where I wanted to throw the book across the room because a character wasn’t behaving like I wanted them to. This book had me FULL of emotions.

If you’ve read North of Beautiful, please give Return to Me a try. It was a wonderful journey of friendships, self-discovery, and following your dreams and no one else’s. Well worth the read.



13 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Return to Me, by Justina Chen

  1. You had so much more luck with this one than I did. I couldn’t take her constant waffling with the guy. If she had done more to find herself and less thinking about him, I think I would have been able to go along with the situation. Unfortunately it just didn’t work for me.

    • See, her relationship with the boyfriend was the least of my worries with this book … it was all about the journey, not about her relationship status. We won’t agree on them all! (And we don’t.)

  2. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (21) | Reading In Winter

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