Hello, everyone! I’m back with another blog tour hosted by the wonderful people at The Fantastic Flying Book Club, this time for Christina June’s latest YA contemporary novel, “No Place Like Here”. In addition to my review, I’ve also selected a few of my favorite quotes so if you’re curious check that out. Don’t worry, there aren’t any spoilers. Also, don’t forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway for the chance to win one of five copies of the book and a poster!
My Rating: ★★★☆½
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
I received a physical copy from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I first heard about this book from a friend who works at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. She’d excitedly shown me the cover of the first ARC she was ever given to read and I immediately adored it! Not only does it have my two favorite colors – pink and purple – but the overall aesthetic with the silhouettes of the forest, a bridge and the water below was so simplistically beautiful.
Things I Liked:
I frequently like to avoid reading the synopsis for contemporaries to avoid spoiling myself because I like to dive in blind and I find that it helps add a little bit of suspense and mystery. I had read the synopsis for No Place Like Here months ago and had completely forgotten what it was about, and I think that’s what helped hook me in the beginning where Ashlyn first receives news of her fathers imminent incarceration.
Christina’s writing was pleasant and engaging and impactful. I really enjoyed seeing the story unfold through Ashlyn’s point-of-view, especially since I realized early on that this story was mainly about her finding strength she was cruelly raised to believe was nonexistent and finding her way back to her family. I loved how the story’s main focus was on family because that is something I cherish myself, and understand how complex and crazy family can be. There is some romance sprinkled in between everything else going on, but it definitely isn’t the main focus and felt more like a plot device to further convey the character development in Ashlyn’s character.
The main setting for the novel is at a wilderness retreat in the middle of nowhere – no computers, no internet, no cellphone service. While that may have seemed like a nightmare for Ashlyn, it sounds like such a lovely vacation spot to get away from life. I’ve never been to a summer camp or any sort so stories that feature anything remotely similar to one tend to pique my interest fairly easily, and this one was no different. I loved all the parts that included camping activities, especially the zip-lines, campfires, and physical obstacle courses. I may not be a very athletic person, but I’m a nature person.
My favorite relationship was definitely the one between Ashlyn and her cousin, Hannah. I have a cousin I am super close with – she’s practically another sister to me – so I loved seeing Ashlyn and Hannah go from complete strangers to best friends. It’s also crazy how much I can relate to each of their individual personalities: Ashlyn’s quiet and passiveness was totally be back in school but after entering the working world and ‘adulting’ for nearly a decade, I’m more like Hannah now – not as assertive as she is, but definitely more than before and able to speak up more often.
Things I Disliked:
I’ll be honest and say that Ashlyn was incredibly annoying in the first third of the book, but her growth and development later on made up for it. Something I thought that should have been explained though was Deb’s constant absence. I know she was supposed to be portrayed as the new careless camp manager, but I wanted to know her side and we never get that. I also felt that everything fell too perfectly in place at the end.
Surprisingly heartwarming and inspiring, No Place Like Here highlights the importance of finding one’s own path and believing in yourself, but also the complexities of family and familial love. The perfect read for a quiet summer evening, especially during camping or, if you’re lucky enough, at a wilderness retreat like Sweetwater Overlook – in which case I am super envious of you.
- “I wish to be seen and heard.” (p. 135)
- “Tatum was convinced there were people in this world who were part magic, put here to teach us lessons or watch out for us or make good things happen.” (p. 172)
- “A family isn’t only good or only bad.” (p. 187)
- “Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. – Rumi” (p. 229)
- “I inhaled deeply, the fresh green scent of the leaves and the earthiness of the ground and the wood filling my lungs. Here, I felt like anything was possible.” (p. 262)
About the Author:
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington DC with her husband and daughter.
She is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and the forthcoming NO PLACE LIKE HERE.
We Live and Breathe Books – Book Review
Read At Night – Author Guest Post
The Heart of a Book Blogger – Book Review, Creative Post, Instagram Post
Prize: Five (5) finished copies of No Place Like Here + book poster!