Last night I finished Veronica Bartles TWELVE STEPS, and I have to say that it is a light-hearted, fun read.
Without spoilers, I will say that I loved this book. It’s predictable in the way you want your favorite love stories to pan out, and yet it’s completely unpredictable, giving it a fresh edge. What starts as a love triangle quickly becomes a love… pentagon? Hexagon? Heptagon? I’ve read reviews where the readers had no clue who, nor could pick which love interest, each sister should ultimately end up with. While I was wrong on Laina’s choice, I pegged Andi’s from the very first scene they interacted.
The older/ younger sister dynamic is beautifully captured, and it felt very reminiscent of my life as a teenager. As the younger “rebellious” twin, my sister shown a brighter shade of gold than I did. And at the same time, we were both the Laina to my younger brother’s Andi. Actually, my younger brother’s name IS Andy. Andy Anderson. All of my yes, this book spoke to me.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is that neither sister realizes just how amazing they are as a person by themselves. Yes, the storyline is through Andi, and while she is a little rough around the edges, you learn quickly that she’s as much of a power house as her sister, if not more. Yes, her sister gets glowing reviews from Andi, but as you watch her actions, you notice she’s just as flawed and tortured as Andi is, over different things. It’s like the grass is always greener on the other side – Andi admires her sister’s looks, talent, and brains, all the while Laina had been admiring her sister’s carefree attitude and social ability. Clearly, though, Andi is beautiful, talented, and intelligent in her own way. And Laina is more of an introvert and deals with social things in her own way, which is completely okay.
What I love is that, as a reader, I knew this early on, and it was just a matter of watching for the light bulb moment when Andi realizes it too. From the start, Andi’s character voice is brilliant, hilarious, and captivating – a glowing star in her own right.
One thing that originally bothered me early on in the story was Laina’s oblivious nature to the guys who crushed hardcore on her. I was with Andi on that one – How does she not see it? It’s so obvious! But then I think back to my years in high school, and I remember being just as oblivious as Laina. I think, as an adult, we forget how complicated our life felt to us as teenagers, and how we ignored or dealt with the new feelings and ideas exposed to us.
And my non-spoiler closing thoughts: I love that even though Andi viewed her sister as a rival, she always treated her like a sister. Despite crushes and best friends, she put family first. Kudos, Andi!
OKAY – SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! You’ve been warned.
I started to dislike Jarod at one point, before the prom, after the start of the Cinderella rehearsals. I secretly hoped he’d get rejected by both sisters and that’s what he gets for not manning up and telling Leila how he feels at the same time he’s stringing Andi along. And I felt SO BADLY for Shane. I wanted him to win, to snag Laina, but between Jarod’s heroic efforts to keep Laina safe, and Shane’s inability to stand up for his feelings, I was okay with how it turned out.
And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Kendra finally got what she deserved. Holy crap, was Laina around the most poisonous person ever! I mentally high-fived Andi when she kicked the snot out of her. And then to follow it up with Jarod tearing Anthony apart – awesome.
Favorite moment: When she’s held after class from her Biology exam, because her teacher accused her of cheating. Her parting words to him made me laugh out loud for several minutes. Brilliant dialogue.
My only Criticism: While yes, the “twelve steps” that are mentioned in the title and synopsis are written in the book, they don’t feel like part of the story. They are a cute little note in the margin, right before or after a chapter. Aside from the first chapter where Andi says “I need a twelve-step program,” there is no reference to her actually doing any of the written steps in the story itself. I thought that was a little strange.
Regardless, the story is upbeat, fun, and will leave you with a sheepish grin long after the you close the book.
I gave this book a 5/5 on Goodreads.