Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Olivia, On the Brink by Tessa Palmeri (Olivia #1)

Olivia, On the Brink
by Tessa Palmeri

My rating: 4 stars

Series: Olivia - Book 1
Publisher: BGW Publishing
Publication Date: August 30, 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Print Length: 340 pages
Available from: Amazon

Olivia Miller is pretty sure she’d win the high school senior award “Most Likely to Never Figure Out What They Want To Do With Their Life”. Her critical father and neglectful mother have contributed to her anxiety and lack of direction about her future. She’s a model student with a big heart for community service, but her dad has belittled any ambition she ever had in pursuing something she’s interested in. College is a definite, but where should she go, and what should she major in?

But there’s a new guy at school, Cameron McClain, who becomes a fabulous distraction. He is positively swoon-worthy, and not just because he’s a gorgeous romantic who plays the guitar—he’s also thoughtful and respectful. He fits right in with Olivia’s circle of friends: future fashion designer Lyla, photographer Kate, and all-around popular Josh.

As Olivia and Cameron’s relationship deepens, he shows her the acceptance and encouragement she craves which helps her deal with difficult family issues and college decisions. Together, they navigate the exciting, though sometimes confusing, waters of a teen dating relationship that grows into first love.

She starts thinking for herself, setting personal boundaries, and overcomes limitations imposed by her overbearing parents, all while trying to set a good example for her younger sister, Emma, who is watching and learning from her. Thankfully, Olivia’s boss and mentor, Mrs. K, is looking out for her, offering much-needed guidance in life and Christian faith. She gives Cameron a thumbs up when she sees how he admires and cherishes Olivia like no other guy ever has.

Olivia gets the much awaited acceptance letter for the college she has her heart set on, which happens to be where Cameron is going, too. Based on her impressive community service record, she is awarded a scholarship for social and behavioral science majors. She chooses that path even though it’s going to disappoint her father.

As she is poised to leave for college, she works up the nerve to confront her father on Emma’s behalf about his anger problem. But will she ever be able to get him and his judgmental comments out of her head?

“Has something ever taken you by such surprise that you felt like time stood still, and the universe held you in sweet suspense so you could savor the moment and remember the feeling for the rest of your life? That's how I felt right then.”

“My pulse quickened as I saw Cameron walk in and smile at me. I motioned at the empty desk to my left and watched the ease with which his lean body slid into the seat. Hmmm. Look at his eyes, Olivia. Look him in the eye.”

“His smile made my heart flutter, and for a moment, I couldn't think of what to say or do. He had adorable dimples, and his teeth were straight and white behind full, kissable lips.”

 Olivia, On the Brink by Tessa Palmeri (Olivia #1)

Olivia, On the BrinkFollow Olivia’s journey through her last year of high school and her first real romance as she struggles with hormones, her dysfunctional family, her spiritual or personal beliefs and the fear of the unknown, out in the world alone, at college. At first glance, Olivia has it all together and she does seem to be able to take on more than an average teen, but what makes her different? Is it the beatings from her father’s belt? Her uninvolved mother? The hypocrisy of her family’s strict religious practices? Olivia is not afraid to hide things from her parents a she pushes the boundaries as a teen, not quite an adult, not a child. But never has she felt what she feels for Cameron, the new boy at school and never has she even considered giving herself completely to a boy until now. Cameron shares Olivia’s belief in waiting for sex, but is not above those secret things kids do, either. Together they make a very mature young couple, almost too mature in their dialogue and actions.

When it comes time for Olivia to finally leave the nest, she knows she must help her younger sister Emma to stay strong and believe in herself no matter what her father and mother do or do not do. She also must finally stand up to the man who lives his religious beliefs once a week and then proceeds to degrade his family and himself the rest of the time. This is a huge weight to carry, for anyone, and for Olivia, Cameron is her rock. The question is, what will the future bring for both them and those they care about?

Tessa Palmeri’s Olivia, On the Brink is a powerful tale of one girl’s life on the brink of adulthood. Olivia is almost too good to be true as a teen, even in the late twentieth century. Her demeanor waffles realistically between mature and wanting to live on the edge a little, still maintain her high moral values and even questioning how strong she could be when around Cameron. Her thought processes and dialogue seemed too mature to be considered average, for any decade or era. That said, Tessa Palmeri has given teens a mostly positive role model to relate to when the going gets tough and when it comes time to stand up and look beyond oneself in the aid of others. I certainly would recommend this for young adult and teen readers, they are living these issues right now, they need to know they do not have to follow the crowd completely or blame their home life for their failures.

I received this copy from Tessa Palmeri in exchange for my honest review.

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