Every Other Weekend – Abigail Johnson – Inkyard Press – Published 7 January 2020
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.
Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.
Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.
It is no secret that Abigail Johnson is one of my all-time favourite authors. And she did not disappoint with her newest release, Every Other Weekend. So many teens are impacted by their parents’ divorces, so I know this will be a relatable novel for many young people. Johnson captures all the devastation, hope, guilt and grief involved in family breakdown. All too real emotions, push and pull romance, heartbreaking family circumstances and authentic voices, this book will be another YA contemporary favourite.
Adam and Jolene. Two teens forced to spend every other weekend at a rundown apartment block due to their parents’ separations. But their family situations couldn’t be more different. Adam knows it won’t be long until his family is back together, if only Adam’s father would realise he should be there for his mother as they all grieve the death of Adam’s eldest brother. Jolene knows her parents are never getting back together and quite frankly she’s okay with that. She hates the melodrama her mother puts on every time she leaves for a weekend stay at her father’s empty apartment – empty except for her father’s way-too-young girlfriend. Adam and Jolene forge a strong friendship over the weekends they share. But will that friendship last if their family circumstances change?
Told in alternating first person chapters, Adam and Jolene’s voices leap from the page. Both unique characters, I quickly fell in love with the both of them. Adam is adorably charming. He is grieving the loss of his much-loved brother, hurting for his mother, fighting with his remaining older brother and determined to show his father just how wrong he is to have left. It makes for some awkward family weekends. I hurt so much for Jolene. Torn apart by her family, she doubts her self-worth. Having Adam as her person is a first in her life. But it isn’t easy, especially when their friendship is first challenged by his relationship with another girl and then the improvement in his family circumstances, while her’s remains the constant horror it always was. I loved that true, authentic friendship is the basis of their relationship. As they struggle through their growing feelings and pain of their family situations, the strength of their friendship and commitment to each other remains.
Johnson has a way of exposing the best and worst of family in her books and Every Other Weekend is no different. Full of emotions and strong teen romance, it is as easy to read as it is to love.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Contemporary, Sport
Themes: Family breakdown, divorce, brothers, family, grief, death, relationships, romance, film, sexual assault.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: References to sexual assault. Occasional coarse language, pi** (18), bit** (7).
Published: 7 January 2020 by Inkyard Press.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 432 pages.