REVIEW #130: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Title: How My Summer Went Up In Flames
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 320, Hardcover
Source: Library

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

Alright, it’s confession time guys. I have never had my heart broken. At least not in the traditional sense like Rosie’s heartbreak. I was never blindsided by a breakup or had my life turned upside down by a love lost. And until I have that experience, I have no idea if I will go batshit crazy like Rosie did. Although, I don’t think I am the type of person who would. Maybe more like the curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-and-cry type.

So it was a little hard for me to relate to Rosie while she was in her post-break-up-funk (which was easily the first half of the book). She couldn’t think about anything but Joey. She was one of those “everything reminds me of him" types. She made stupid decision, after stupid decision, and pretty much drove everyone around her (and me) crazy with her foolishness. I mean, this boy cheated on her, flaunted a new freshmen hookup in front of her, and then filed a temporary restraining order against her.  And yet she kept contacting him and thinking maybe they could get back together. And she was such a Debby Downer! Just plain old miserable throughout half of the trip, bringing down the mood and not even trying to make an effort and have fun. I just wanted to shake her until she snapped out of it. Not to mention, she was super girly (which I am not), so that just added to my “I am nothing like Rosie” feel.

But eventually Rosie did start to get over Joey and that's when the book started to pick up. And I really started to like her at this point. She began acting reasonably and she was a lot funnier when her whit wasn't used for negativity. Her relationship with the boys grew stronger and the mood of the road trip really picked up. I really enjoyed the road trip setting, seeing as I am a travel junkie myself. It gave me some ideas for future trips! Really it was just an entertaining read from this point onward.  The characters were interesting and all the boys were pretty nerdy - and hello - I am a total nerd myself so I loved it. 

If you aren't a fan of the love-hate relationship than watch out! Rosie falls for a boy who is pretty much a jerk to her the entire time, except for small instances of kindness. Of course his jerk-dom is understandable given how Rosie acts in the beginning. But I find it kind of hard that these two would fall for each other, for any reasons other than superficial ones (they were both hot). And that would be fine, but the ending alludes to something deeper, which I didn't really buy. 

Reflecting back, I did enjoy this book while reading it but I didn't love it. The ending made up for the first half of the book but they still evened out to a happy 3 stars. I guess I didn't have any experience to draw on to relate to Rosie to make a strong connection. And unless I am wildly entertained or have a strong connection, a book isn't really going to get above 3 or 3.5 stars. But it was good writing, and Rosie had a good voice for the story. I expect readers who enjoy contemporary and have no hiccups over the first half to eat this one up. 



  1. I loved this one so much! I thought it was a bit far fetched, but that was all part of it's glory. Plus the nerdy guys were amazing! And the roadtrip! Yep I think we pretty much liked the same things about this one!

    1. Yes I agree about the far fetched. I also thought it was pretty funny when Rosie and her family all had a mental breakdown because she was leaving home for like nine days. Come on now. At this rate they are going to throw a memorial service when she leaves for college

  2. I had issues with the premise and the character development. I think that people who really love road trip books will like it, though.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

    1. Yeah, the road trip part appealed to me. I tried to enjoy it as much as possible over Rosie's whining.

  3. Hmm. I do like the fact that it's about a road trip! But I don't like the fact that the characters sound REALLY frustrating. We'll have to see if I ever feel like picking this up :)

  4. I have seen this book all over the blogs lately. I still can't decide if I want to read it and I'm like you and probably won't enjoy the first half so much. I can't read a really whinny main character for too long. I think I might pass this one up.

    1. Not a bad choice. I'd say keep it on the backburner


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