Buy Every Reason We Shouldn’t
Special price $13.49 Regular Price: $17.99
Publisher: Tor Teen / Macmillan Audio
Format: Hardcover / eBook / Audiobook
Narrator: Caitlin Kelly
Reviewer: Melissa on May 30, 2020
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’m big into sports romances, so Sara Fujimura‘s Every Reason We Shouldn’t appealed to me in a big way. Not only do I love figure skating and hockey stories, but since the love interest, Jonah Choi is a long track speed skater, it made for an interesting change of pace in the genre. Add in the fact that Olivia Kennedy is a biracial, Japanese-American teen, who was a gold medalist in pairs skating at the junior level, but who has crashed and burned at the senior division, and Jonah is a 3/4 Korean-American who has the drive and talent to make it to the Olympics some day, and I knew it had the makings of a good book.
Overall, I thought this was a cute romance where both characters have realistic expectations of what the relationship can involve because Olivia understands what a competitive skating schedule, like Jonah’s, requires. If anything, it is their school friends who attempt to cause drama in that regard when they, especially the girls, ask Olivia if she’s upset that Jonah didn’t give her a flower for flower day. They also insist that Olivia and Jonah have to go to the winter formal even though Jonah has a competition out of town that day and Olivia has to practice with her pairs skating partner Egg for his audition for Olympians on Ice.
A previous review suggested that Olivia and Jonah saw themselves as “Elite” vs their normal, non-athlete friends, but honestly, I didn’t see it this way. Their camaraderie merely demonstrates that they understand what achieving an Olympic dream entails. Moreover, a lot of the tension between Olivia and Jonah and their school friends was caused by the latter’s lack of empathy for an experience beyond their own. They suggested Jonah might be stupid because he had different priorities than studying. Moreover, while Jonah would love if his parents allowed him to get a GED, so he could focus on his speed skating career, this possibility is unthinkable to them. They can’t see any option beyond focusing on school, studying on the PSATs, and volunteering to stand out on their applications to elite colleges. In my opinion, the “we’re better than you” thinking isn’t coming from the elite athletes of the group.
Beyond the tension between Jonah and Olivia and their school friends, I felt that Fujimura makes a point of demonstrating Olivia’s low self esteem. So much of her life, Olivia has garnered praise and self esteem from her ability to perform and succeed on the podium, but when figure skating started getting harder for her and her training was no longer being paid for, she just gave up. She focuses on the wrong things, like how her body has become curvier and slightly heavier and develops a weird relationship with food to try and fit into her old costumes or to get back to where she used to be as a skater. But you know what’s funny? It’s only when she stops thinking so hard about her body, how bad she did in her last competitions, and on nailing those jumps for which she was known that she’s able to perform to the level she expects for herself. It’s basic sports psychology. Add in the negative comments from her parents and the Skate America judges about her lack of ability and that it’s too late for her to achieve her dreams, and it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s only when Olivia can get over these things and push through how hard she’ll need to work going forward that she has a chance of achieving her goals.
In a previous review, the writer also complained that some sensitive issues weren’t handled well and that, for example, the school lockdown situation at their school was just a way for the author to let Jonah say he loved Olivia for the first time. I disagree. Maybe listening to the audiobook and hearing Caitlin Kelly’s voice affected by feelings because I had literal chills. However, once the situation was resolved, it became clear that there was no weapon in the intruder’s possession and the school offered counselling for anyone who needed it. To me, the reason Fujimura included was to show the huge difference in Jonah’s and Olivia’s support network. Whereas Jonah received text messages from his parents immediately and his father came and allowed Jonah to cry on his shoulder once they were let out of school, Olivia’s parents not only didn’t contact her, but also failed to respond to her text messages to them for hours. Her mother didn’t come to pick her up from school, and she had to find a way to get to the rink on her own. In fact, Mac was the only person who comforted her during a time of crisis.
Sometimes Olivia is immature, but when she yells at her mom to inquire whether her mom wants her to be the child or adult, there’s a reason that the author says “she sounds just like a five year old.” Olivia is flawed. She has outbursts that are basically juvenile tantrums, and she gets jealous over her boyfriend’s talent when she isn’t sure that she has what it takes. She’s not perfect, but honestly, neither is Jonah. He lies to his parents, sneaks around, yells at his parents, and sometimes says terrible things to Olivia. Yes, he apologized immediately for the last bit, but still it kind of sucked. And yet, I didn’t see criticism of his maturity level anywhere on Goodreads, so I tend to think it’s because we put female characters at a higher, unfair standard, even if we’re women ourselves. Plus, let’s be honest, Jonah has great parents and Olivia’s basically leave her to fend for herself and to worry about the growing pile of last due bills without ever talking to her about it or reassuring her. If anyone has reason to yell at her parents, it’s her.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series to see how the rink fairs after the changes they’ve made, how Jonah and Olivia’s skating careers continue, and how their romance blooms and grows. Perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, and Julie Cross’ Juniper Falls series.
Buy Every Reason We Shouldn’t today for a great price!