Stuck With You by Christina Mandelski is pretty run of the mill as far as teen romances go. And it doesn’t really stand out all that much. There were really only two things that actually did and both weren’t for what I personally would consider great reasons. This is the kind of book that I, now and as a teenager, would read and forget about. After getting through it, I would find that I just don’t care on smidge about any of it.
Catie and Caleb’s parents have been friends forever and thus this resulted in the two of them growing up basically side by side. Best friends until he decided he was annoyed with her and they quickly turn enemies, the two have their summer plans unexpectedly foiled when they meet shows up at the beach house their family shares. The beach house that they had both believed they would have to themselves. Meanwhile, they’re both also struggling under the pressure their families have put on them to continue the business they began together while each wants to go off and do their own thing.
Thus ensues a rather monotonous tale in which Catie and her friends try to have a good time at the beach, meeting college boys and the like, while Caleb fights with his jealousy and male bravado based, “I must protect this girl at all costs” against his respect for her as an autonomous woman and his surprise at realizing that he’s in-super-like with her. Now, while I find this sweet at times, I also found it massively unrealistic. Firstly, jealousy doesn’t quite work that way and it often makes people out to be jerks. I don’t really expect that an eighteen-year-old boy to really have the level of maturity required for that, though I suppose some can surprise me. And to be fair, Caleb did have some lapses in his judgment on these things.
But ultimately, I just never found him believable as a character. Especially later on when he got into blatantly refusing something I’m pretty sure the majority of teenage boys would never turn down. But bravo to Caleb for being one of the few boys in “existence” who wouldn’t immediately jump at such an opportunity? I just find it unlikely. Especially given the circumstances. And sure, it’s an ideal, but let’s be honest with ourselves here.
My biggest complaint with the book, though, was the unfortunate reference to asexuality that implied a complete lack of understanding for what it means to be asexual in the first place coming from the author. Not only that, but it was so insensitive and made me feel extremely uncomfortable. The phrase referenced an “asexual plant” and was used to imply that one has to be such to not recognize how attractive someone is. It was a single line in the novel, but it was something I found problematic.
Ultimately, I don’t think that’s enough to condemn the book entirely, but when the story was only mediocre to begin with, it definitely took a hit for the comment.
All in all, I see Stuck With You as very forgettable with characters who I never really bought into. The resolution to all conflicts was too easy and quick. The chemistry was minimal. The characters themselves weren’t all that interesting for me in the first place. They also weren’t super believable. Plus, it even had the random best friend with “wise” advice constantly telling the main character how much she likes the boy or how much he likes her trope, which I really hate. And while it’s not a terrible book, I know I probably won’t remember much about it or care to read it again at any point in the future.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.