Wanna know why?
Well first off Maddie isn’t annoying like Lauren was — she also doesn’t scheme like Lauren did. Maddie likes Gabriel, the love interest in this story, and she feels that insecurity that comes along with liking a hot guy and knowing other girls have a crush on him and COULD steal him away… (like he was yours in the first place, ladies).
But it’s a “relatable” feeling for the most part. I mean I imagine a lot of 12-year-olds think like this somewhat. Heck I know some adults who do some stupid, crazy things in the name of love (or even lust).
What I really liked though was how Maddie came in on her own, and how Gabriel was just one part of her revelation over summer. Ever since she lost her father, Maddie’s been struggling to find a new normal in her new (sadly enforced) family dynamic. One there’s the whole guilt of leaving her mom alone during the 6 weeks at camp (she’s an only child!) and two, she’s hoping her camp besties don’t single her out the way her regular school friends and community has been doing: she just wants to be treated normally — not like the sad-poor-girl-whose-lost-her-father-and-should-therefore-be-treated-with-an-extra-gentle-touch.
The whole point of the series, though what I’d call an MG (female-geared) contemporary romance, is more about character growth and moralization. Especially as it’s written from Maddie’s POV. Like if there would be a moral/theme for Crush Book Two I’d call it as “accept that change will happen, and not all types of changes are in our control, but learning to recognize happiness/joy in the moments of unwelcome change will keep us afloat”…or something equally wise (and probably better written than what I wrote).
Better yet here’s a quote from the book:
“The world will change and go by plenty fast outside of camp, but inside all I want you to do this summer is have fun and enjoy it.” – Maddie’s Dad
AND that’s all well and good, but you want to know all about Gabriel, don’t you?
Oddly I read Heather Davis’ Never Cry Werewolf (which stared a British love interest in a summer camp setting) and now there’s Gabriel (Maddie’s British crush) and it’s set in a camp!
Do I have my own theme going on here…?
Anyways, Gabriel was a cutie! Very “crush”-worthy, *nods enthusiastically*. For one he wasn’t stuck up. And two, the poor guy was lonely as well. Like Maddie’s he, too, is going through a big change — not parent-dying grief-induced type of change, but parents-divorcing, moving-continents type change, and Maddie becomes sort of his pillar of support/confidante and vice versa.
Like I said, all very adorable.
ALSO as a bonus, Maddie’s friends are super hilarious. Emily was my fave! Keep an eye out for her (not that she’s hard to miss)!
If I intrigued you at all, grab a copy of Angela Darling’s Crush Book 2! And the great thing is you don’t have to read the books in order — so if you wanna read Maddie’s story then you can skip Lauren’s in Book 1. (Though I loved both stories!)