Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Every Other Weekend, or, The One Where My Sarcastic Sense of Humor is Satiated


Every Other Weekend

by Abigail Johnson

Pages: 512
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020

Cover Comments: 
I love this cover! The adjoining balconies are perfect and spot-on for the story. This does give me the feeling that the book is just a rom-com, but I'm okay with it.

First Lines: 
"The pigeons blanketing the parking lot took flight into the setting sun when we pulled up to Dad's apartment.

               GoodreadsδΈ¨ Amazon
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.


Every Other Weekend is a poignant story at times heartbreaking and at times laugh-out-loud funny. There’s the joy and terror of new love alongside the portrait of two families, broken in very different ways. This is an important story for many reasons - almost too many reasons to fit into one book, which is where my main criticism comes in. But I’ll start with the positives!

The romance featured in the novel was built on slow-building, genuine friendship. I love seeing this and wish it were more common in YA novels. These two really went on a journey throughout the book, ending up with a deep understanding of one another. I enjoyed their dynamic, the “in between” sections where the two text, and the barriers that they had to break down in one another to become close. I also personally love sarcastic, "fake mean" flirting hahaha, so this was right up my alley.

It’s hard to say who had the worse family situation in Every Other Weekend: Jolene has an abusive mother and an absent father, and Adam’s entire family, while sweet, are immersed in grief and anger. The issues just within the two families were quite enough to unpack in one book. However, the story adds on more and more until it’s too much to keep straight, much less delve into in any sort of satisfying detail. Not counting the core family dynamics at play here, this one novel explores:

  1. A side character who is in a co-dependent, mentally abusive relationship
  2. A main character who emotionally cheats for months
  3. A relationship between Jolene’s mom and a new man that just feels sinister
  4. A relationship between Jolene’s dad and his girlfriend that has history and emotional drama concerning Jolene
  5. A side character related to Adam and his family with some emotional baggage to resolve
  6. A sexual assault

Because there was so much going on, it was hard to really get into any of these storylines. Of particular concern to me was the sexual assault storyline. It’s an extremely important topic, but is only introduced close to the end of the book, and is used as a plot point to move the storyline towards a resolution. As such, it made me uncomfortable and felt like a passing nod to a serious issue rather than a deeper exploration. Many of the other extraneous storylines could have been cut too, to make room for more coverage of the main storylines. Other beats dragged out for way too long, like Adam’s extreme anger and attitude towards his dad. 

The resolution of the story was good though - no neat bows on the storyline, but things end in a place that makes sense and that I enjoyed reading. All in all, I liked Every Other Weekend and would recommend it for its sweet and unrushed romance and examination of some really complicated family dynamics. Cut 100 pages and it would have been golden!


*Thanks to Inkyard Press and the author for the chance to read Every Other Weekend before its publication date.

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