Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that's impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father's unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn't take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?
In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.
But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone's heart survive?
Be warned, there are spoilers!
Anyone who read my last review of a Keren David book will know I was an insta-fan of her work. She was my pick to win the YA Prize back in March (#TeamSalvage), so it should come as no surprise that I was chomping at the bit to read This Is Not A Love Story - thank you Atom for the review copy!
I'll say right off the bat that I did not love this as much as I loved Salvage. If you read my interview with Keren you'll understand that I had a really personal relationship with the story, so that could have a lot to do with it. That said, This Is Not A Love Story is a brilliant contemporary love story (despite what the title may have you believe) that I would definitely recommend.
Keren is the master of creating believable teen characters. She really understands people and their motivations, making her characters utterly relatable. For example, Kitty's desire to change herself into someone different and more interesting are definitely feelings I had as a teen. And the self-justifying way Kitty talks about Theo hits the nail on the head when it comes to unrequited/first love.
The male characters are a little less convincing for me personally. Theo's pining for Sophie is excellently portrayed, and yet another example of how Keren gets first love right. And Ethan is surly and alternative, which is a great comparison to the two other idealistic main characters. But neither of their motivations are overly clear to me, so some question marks did spring up throughout - for example, Theo being romantically interested in Ethan seems a little out of the blue to me.
What's really stand out about This is Not A Love Story is the setting which is absolutely brilliant: Amsterdam = fascinating and fun! It totally made me want to visit again... The descriptions Keren gives of the city are wonderfully evocative but never too heavy handed in a "This is Potsdammer Platz which is a big square with lots of beautifully crafted buildings and people and blah bleh blah..." way. And having lived abroad myself, Keren also describes the wonder of the new and different very eloquently.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and think I would have liked it even more if I had read it at 15 or 16. It's a great, light-hearted read that'd be great for a holiday and that I think teens will really enjoy.
Book received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.