What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan - the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah - unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan's former-best-friend Noah.
Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy's story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.
With its mouthful of a title and intensely Mormon setting, I knew that Back When You Were Easier to Love promised to be a quirky read. As soon as I opened the book, I immediately understood Joy’s desire for answers and whizzed through it. While Smith’s characters sometimes got on my nerves, Back When You Were Easier to Love is the perfect novel for anyone looking for a clean story of self-discovery and romance.
When we first meet Joy, she is obsessive about Zan and unhappy in the place where she lives. She lives in a town with a large Mormon population, and views a lot of her peers as conformists. I love reading about characters who are quick to judge and then have to reconsider their opinions, because I have been there.
Joy’s obsessions and fantasies made her incredibly relatable. My one complaint is that at times she almost seemed a lit bit too naive to be realistic. I also never really understood the appeal of either of the male characters. Zan struck me as incredibly pretentious, which isn’t a trait I admire. I found Noah a little boring, but I ultimately couldn’t help but “awww” as I turned the final pages of this book.
Even though I’ve voiced a few misgivings in this review, they’re all personal pet peeves. I may not have loved all of Smith’s characters, but found Back When You Were Easier to Love well-crafted and humorous. I think lots of young readers will adore Joy’s character and the sweet storyline in this book.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Teen Book Scene in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!