Book Review – The Year We Hid Away by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Hid Away (The Ivy Years #2)

Author: Sarina Bowen

Publication: June 1st, 2014

Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Format: Kindle Edition, 274 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Read: May 2017

Sarina BowenGoodreads

 

Synopsis
She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.
Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.
It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.
Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.
The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was really dramatic, but not in the way that New Adult books usually are. I kind of felt like this one was more real even with some of the angst and emotional scenes. It was really entertaining though and I liked the themes of family and friendship. I felt like the romance was really supportive and I like that hockey is still a big part of the plot.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
It’s really easy to read and fast paced. The writing style is simple and entertaining, with some drama obviously. There are multiple POV’s, each with its own distinct voice. I liked the difference between the two characters and their thoughts process.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I liked the characters in this book. I was very happy to get to know Bridger a bit more because I really liked him in the first book and the new female lead was interesting as well.
Scarlet is a strong and smart character. I found her to be really resilient and persistent. She kind of took a chance, changed her identity and went off into the unknown to be able to be happy. That takes a lot of courage to me. She’s quiet and sweet and kind.
Bridger is determined. I liked seeing more of his personality because he’s really sweet. He has a really strong attitude even when there’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He’s a character that I feel proud of as I read, he takes on so much on his own that he shouldn’t have to deal with but it’s so impressive.
There’s a younger character within this book whom I loved and I really liked seeing the characters from the first book even though they weren’t on page enough for me. I would’ve liked to see more complex character within the narrative.

Emotionally

I liked this one about the same as the first book, though it had a lot more drama and some more serious themes. I still had some issues with it.

The plot was dramatic. We follow Scarlet, a girl who’s changed her name in an effort to get away from her father’s legacy. She meets Bridger, who’s year has changed completely after having to take on more responsibility with his family. I liked this book though it definitely wasn’t as entertaining as I was expecting. I tend to like New Adult books that are fast paced, easy to read and fun. I don’t want them to be too dramatic or serious, though the exploration of themes with those characteristics are always interesting. But this book was just intense. Both of the character’s lives were full of tough situations and impossible circumstances. That made the book much more serious than I tend to enjoy. The romance was good but I think what was happening within the characters’ lives was much more overpowering than that part of the story. It’s really strange for me to say that I actually wanted more romance in a book but I’m doing it! It didn’t feel like an instalove story but we didn’t actually get to see on page the development of their relationship together. I would’ve liked to have seen more of that as well as more from the side characters. Because of the nature of the plot of this book, the side characters that I wanted to see were practically nonexistent. I wanted to see more friendship within the story. The plot in general is emotional and intense. It was kind of a roller coaster of emotions though I’m glad everything worked out in the end for everyone.

Scarlet has a lot of strength. She’s struggling with a lot of things that are outside of her control. Her father’s legal troubles have caused her to be isolated in her home town and as soon as she’s able, she takes the opportunity to escape and to build a life outside of that to the best of her abilities. That takes so much courage and bravery in my opinion. It was such a precarious situation and things quickly got out of hand. I was waiting for her to take a chance and confide in someone because it was something she needed to help her stay sane. I’m glad that came about but it took a little bit too long in my opinion. If we could’ve seen more of the romance developing, I feel like it would’ve been better for her to share her struggles, specially since he shared his with her earlier.

As for Bridger, I just think he’s such a stand up guy. He’s the kind of guy that you want as your friend, he’s a good one to have there to support you. I loved how much he loved his little sister. It was so sweet and endearing. Everything about his character felt genuine and open. I think the dynamic he had with Scarlet was really nice. But again, I would’ve liked to have actually seen on page more of the development of their romance because it seemed so sweet and cute. It just wasn’t enough for me to actually root for them. I wanted them to succeed more as individuals than I wanted to root for them as a couple which is usually what I look for in romances.

Briefly, I’ll mention again that I wanted to see more of the side characters. From Scarlet’s roommates, to Bridger’s doormate and Hartley and Corey, the side characters were there for a few sentences, some paragraphs and that’s it. I wanted more friendships and for that to be developed as well.

Overall, I liked this book but not as much as the first one. I appreciated that the story has serious themes but it overpowered the romance and the friendships that were present before and trying to be established. I went into it looking for something more light and fluffy so while I enjoyed it, it’s not my favorite.

So that’s it for this post! I would love to know if any of you have started this series and what you thought of the second book. I’m still kind of on the fence about my thoughts on this series as a whole as I continue to read it so I’d love to see what you all think. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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