PJV Quickie: Sabrina Elkins has written a coming-of-age romance that is just wonderful. There were so many different aspects to the story that teens and young adults today can relate to and Ms. Elkins handled them with just the right amount of turmoil, doubt, and hope. Seriously, I read Stir Me Up in a day.
Cami Broussard is an almost 18-year-old high-school senior. She lives with her dad, a French chef, and his new wife, Estella. She’s got a steady boyfriend, and a BFF who wants to be an actress. Cami loves working at her dad’s restaurant and wants to be a professional chef, but her dad wants her to go to college and earn a degree. She spends most of her time studying, working at the restaurant, and sneaking out to visit her boyfriend, Luke. Then, Estella receives a call that her nephew, whom she’s raised since he was a young child, has been injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. He’s coming back to the US to recover and will move into Cami’s room since her room is on the first floor.
Julian Wyatt is a 20-year-old Marine who’s been stationed in Afghanistan until an IED explosion severely injured him and necessitated a trip back to the US to recover from his wounds. He’s severely wounded, and angry, and suffers from PTSD. He dreams of the men in his platoon, and is feeling lost without his career as a Marine.
As they’re thrown together and forced to live in the same household, Julian makes Cami question herself: her plans and her future, and Cami does the same to Julian. If they can overcome their intense animosity towards each other, perhaps they can each help the other find their paths.
I have to say first: I hate to cook but am realizing that I love books that feature cooking. I have no idea why that is but it works for me 🙂 With a character who wants to be a cook, and many scenes set in a restaurant, Stir Me Up is full of descriptions of food, cooking, and emotions (yes, food is often associated with emotions, or the other way around).
I was pleasantly surprised by Stir Me Up, I was not expecting the emotional depth that Ms. Elkins has written into the story. Cami was a complex character and I felt like she really grew from when the story starts; by the end she is more assertive and self-confident and I enjoyed reading her journey. I loved the the way she described Julian to her BFF after they first met as opposed to her feelings after she got to know him. Cami’s interactions with her father, and also her friends, added to the story in a realistic way.
Julian is quite a different character – he begins the story broken, both in body and spirit, and he’s not a very likable character. But then, we gradually see glimpses of the person he was and could be again…and we hope, and keep reading, and gradually we’re smiling as we’re reading along… I also think Ms. Elkins handled his wounds effectively – she didn’t just gloss over them, nor did she focus the entire story around them.
Stir Me Up is not your typical New Adult romance and addresses many subjects that affect young people today: blended families, the Afghanistan war and its effects on our soldiers and their families, young love and sex (do it/don’t do it?), balancing your hopes for your future against your parent’s wishes. Ms. Elkins has taken serious subjects that affect modern teens and written about them in a way that is not condescending or disregarding. As adults we tend to tell kids “do the right thing and it will all work out”, but sometimes that path is a bit murky and those choices are hard; they already know to do the right thing, it’s just that they can’t always figure out what that is. I felt like I watched these characters as they tried to do that, and yes, they stumbled a bit here and there, but characters don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Fans of New Adult, Young Adult, enemies-to-lovers, and non-typical heroes will enjoy Stir Me Up.
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