Publisher: Hachette Ireland.
Paperback, 336 pages.
Release date: February 1st 2011.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Arianne.
At Strandbrook College, we are Kids Of. Kids of diplomats, media stars, musicians, artists, actors, oh, and wealthy people who aspire to all of that. I'm the kid of a rock star. Means nothing to me.
When Mum died, six months ago, I didn't just lose her, I lost my dad - to work. The only thing he does now is annoy me. He hires people like 'The Stylist' who wears bullets in her belt and makes him look like a hobo. Seriously.
But 'The Rockstar' isn't the only person who drives me mad. There's David McFadden, a guy in my class who could have helped but didn't. Now, it's too late. I don't want his help. Because I'm not going to trust anyone, love anyone, rely on anyone. That way I'll never be hurt again.
If only I could solve the problem of Rachel, my best friend, who won't let me pull back just like that. Even David McFadden won't stay out of my face. But I'm not going to fall for his blue eyes, his windswept hair or the plaited leather on his wrist.
And when he says he wants to help, I'm sure as hell not going to listen....
I loved And By The Way. I loved it in so many ways I’ve lost count.
At Strandbrook College, Dublin, the students are Kids Of: Kids of media moguls, musicians, artists, actors. Alex’s father is a rock star, but that means nothing now that her mum’s dead. Abandoned by the people she should be able to rely on no matter what, she can’t help feeling that she’d be better off totally alone than risk losing someone again. The only problem is there’s one person who refuses to be scared off by her coldness: David McFadden, suntanned all-round nice guy and fellow semi-orphan.
And By The Way surprised me so much. The writing doesn’t stand out at first, but soon it becomes all about the story. It’s the kind of book that will make you forget you’re reading words at all. It’s fast-paced and intensely likeable, with characters you’ll find hard to resist.
Alex is fantastic in the leading role. As a narrator she's sarcastic, judgmental and totally fierce. Ice Queen Alex is stony and aloof to the outside world, but you can’t help rooting for her. She’s a mess, but she’s a loveable mess. It’s impossible not to become invested in her story. We meet her six months after the death of her mother, and she's adamant that she doesn't need or want help from anyone- but isolation isn’t doing her any good, either. In walks David McFadden, and Alex comes undone.
David is one of the most realistic, romantic and let’s be honest, just plain gorgeous love interests I’ve fallen for in a long time. He’s genuine, relatable and he’s not perfect. There’s no ‘tortured bad boy’ or ‘impossibly sweet boy next door’ stereotype with him: he’s just doing the best he can to get by.
David may not be letting Alex push him away, but Alex doesn’t do close – ever - and it’s going to take more than few moments with him for her to learn to trust again. He has to prove himself to her, and she has to do the same. Their relationship develops not only because there’s undeniable chemistry between them but because they really grow to rely on each other.
Alex and David have a teenage romance that you can see playing out before your very eyes, and like any real teenage relationship, it’s a bit of rollercoaster – not least because of the equally complex social lives of their interfering friends! They’ve all got their own subplots from Sarah to Simon to Rachel and back again. Life at Strandbrook College is very much a war of the sexes and the more we visit the school, the more hilarious the story becomes. Alex’s narrative can be a very dark place and the relatively carefree attitudes of her classmates provide much needed light relief. There’s also emphasis on Alex’s connection – or lack thereof – to her distant workaholic father and contrast in the form of David’s sense of duty towards his little brother.
This book is very much a tale of two halves. So many novels focus on the ‘before’ stage of YA romance, but rarely does anyone stop to think about the ‘after’. What happens when the dream couple finally get together? Denise Deegan isn’t afraid to answer that question, and throws more than a fair share of obstacles into Alex and David’s path. Fans of the series will know that the ending completely knocks you for six - I knew there'd be a twist, but the one that came was not what I expected. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel so I can find out what exactly will happen next!
In short: I loved And By The Way because it just felt so real. I fell for the characters hook, line and sinker. One of the most original and relatable contemporary novels I’ve read all year.