I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Better Together by Christine Riccio. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Better Together, Jamie and Siri haven’t seen each other in almost fifteen years after their parents’ volatile divorce. However, a chance encounter brings them crashing back together, right at a time they both are grappling with who they are. Jamie, a stand up comic, has just had the worst performance of her life; Siri, a ballerina, is healing from a career-ending injury. At a crossroads, the sisters decide to switch places in order to both confront the past (and their parents) and to determine what their futures will look like.
I’ve seen some of Christine’s content on YouTube, but I’ve not read her first book. However, this new novel from her is a good time!
There’s obvious inspiration taken from The Parent Trap, but there’s a bit of a magical twist put in place that helps sell the two sisters’ disguises, considering they aren’t identical twins (or both played by Lindsay Lohan). However, the way the story unfolds is original and fun.
The sisters make for intriguing protagonists—Jamie is both bubbly and cynical, while Siri is angry yet caring. They have quite a bit of depth, and I liked their relationship with each other and with the others in their life. The side characters like Terry, Dawn, and of course the parents were all pretty well written. I don’t know that the dialogue was entirely realistic-sounding all the time, and honestly some of the scenes are a little over the top, but overall it was fine.
The best part about this book is the way it looks at how complex familial bonds are. The scenes between the reunited sisters, as well as with both parents, are pretty emotional and make some good observations about how love can be so messy. I also liked that this examines young people grappling with their purpose, estranged family, and insecurities. For such a wacky premise, there’s a good amount of emotional depth.
In the end, Better Together was an enjoyable book. I had a bit of a bumpy journey with certain aspects like the dialogue and the at times over-the-top scenarios, but Riccio made up for that with the characterization and emotions. The relationships, both familial and romantic, were well done; the pacing was good; and the humor more than decent. Though you have to suspend your disbelief for quite a bit of this, it’s still a fun read!
Overall rating: 8.2/10
Better Together will be published on June 1st, 2021!