Thank you so much to Jennifer Haupt for sending me Come As You Are! The synopsis appealed to me right away and I’m so glad I decided to read this one.
Set against a backdrop of Seattle in the early ’90s, Haupt’s second novel is a compelling family drama and love story that explores the question: Can we alter our dreams and stories from the past to create a better future for our children?
Zane and Skye are two misfit teens drawn together by their love of music and their loneliness, both part of Seattle’s grunge scene in the early ‘90s. They dream of moving to L.A. together: Zane’s music career following the trajectory of Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder, and Skye drawing Picasso-esque portraits on the Venice Beach boardwalk. When a tragedy violently catapults them from best friends to lovers, their bond is forever strengthened and their relationship destroyed. Ten years later, they must come together as parents, putting aside abandoned dreams and broken promises. The question is: can they face the truth of who they are, and become the parents their daughter needs them to be?
This story tackled some really complicated feelings, and it did it really well. Zane and Skye are two teens who have to make really difficult decisions at very young ages, then learn how to live with those decisions. If you like complicated family stories, I’d definitely suggest picking this one up.
Skye ended up being a really likable character, and I definitely felt for her and the position she’s in. How do you make a decision as a mother about letting the kid’s father back into the picture, after he’s gotten clean? Then, when you struggle to figure out your feelings about the guy, how do you go about dealing with those?
I thought everything about this book was well done, including all the throwbacks to the grunge era. There were a lot of references I enjoyed, even though I wasn’t really into grunge as a kid. I enjoyed getting lost in the struggle of these characters, and their reconciliations with the past and who they used to be. There were a couple times when I couldn’t quite get into Skye’s head to figure out why she was making certain decisions, mainly about Zane and her relationship with him. I think there could have been a little bit more character development there, and a little more insight into what made her kiss him, for instance.
Overall, though, this is a great story. Like I said before, if you’re into complicated family stories, the grunge era, single parenting, and hard decisions for young adults, pick up Come As You Are. This one gets 4 stars from me!