Sarah Tomp's debut novel has a very Breaking Bad-esque premise, only minus the drugs, violence, and profanity. The content may be YA, but the emotions and danger are just as serious. Making moonshine may not be quite as serious as cooking meth, but both are illegal and potentially dangerous...
I love this book. I've been enamored by this story since I first heard Sarah read an excerpt almost two years ago in Vermont. The premise is intriguing and dangerous, but the characters are what will really hook you. Lulu, her best friend Roni, Roni's boyfriend Bucky, and Mason are all vividly portrayed and endlessly interesting characters. Their dynamics shift over the course of the novel as Lulu grapples with doubt and feelings of entrapment, Roni discovers a new passion, Bucky is faced with an unexpected change in plans, and Mason tries to stay levelheaded throughout a heady summer of illegal activities.
The story is told from Lulu's perspective, as she recounts the events of the summer to Mason, promising to go back and examine the events and find out if there is still hope for the two of them. It's an unconventional choice that works extremely well for Lulu's lyrical, honest voice, and it focuses the story not on the moonshine, but on Lulu and her evolving perspective on her hometown of Dale and Mason, who inspired her change of perspective. I love that Lulu grapples with big issues of money and privilege, and Tomp's depiction of small town life is carefully and affectionately written.
There's romance and action and risk in My Best Everything, but the story is full of big ideas about expectations, family legacy, and striking out on your own while honoring your upbringing. The ending is tense, heartbreaking, believable--but also hopeful. This is a contemporary novel unlike any I've read in YA. I can't wait to see what Sarah comes up with next!
Book purchased from my indie!