Top critical review
Pretty good read. 3.5 stars
Reviewed in the United States on February 4, 2020
Overall, this is a pretty good read. It starts off with a lot of similarities to Tijan's books - and I don't love her work. I had to quit reading them when they became all the same: feral high school kids that are vicious and on their own, and all that. However, this book has more depth, and I enjoyed it, with a few exceptions.
I hated that ava gives her deadbeat mom all her money when her mom shows up back in her life. "I'll give you everything I have." Why? She didn't know how much Ava had, so Ava could have given her $500 instead of $3000, and kept most of the money Ava had worked so hard for. It was stupid. And Ava isn't supposed to be stupid. It angered me so much that I hated Ava at that moment.
I thought the scene with Ava and Knox in the bathroom was a little over the top. I thought it would have played out better had she just been a silent 'listener' to what he did, maybe be discovered after? Having her do what she did was OTT, as was her almost falling out of the tub and then the two of them falling on the floor. Sometimes less is more.
The timeline: Early in the story, Ava says she 'turned 18 last January', and since it's September of her senior year when she says it, it means she will be turning 19 in a few months, and would be 19 1/2 when she graduates? That's way too old. And then when the main story is sort of over, and jumps ahead 1 year and 9 months, and she's working in a bar, serving alcohol? And, she's apparently worked there for a year, serving alcohol and mixing drinks at 19.
Another weird thing is during the second epilogue ( which I found kind of cheesy TBH), is that Dane and the girl he brought back from Greece are only engaged. If my math is correct, from what the author wrote, Dane and his girl have been together 8-9 YEARS ... and are only engaged?
I give this 3.5 stars (no way would a teacher or whatever at a school tell her students to cheer their 't*ts' off at that night's football game over the intercom), and while I liked the cover, the model looks way too old to be an 18 year old boy ... plus the lack of a facial scar ...
And, my final thought is the title: I really thought, based on that and the blurb, that there were going to be many 'Dear Ava' letters from Ava's 'admirer'. There was only the one, and it was pretty generic, so the title seemed like a stretch. I actually thought the book should have been called 'The Phoenix', which would have been more fitting.