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ARC Review: When You Were Mine

my thoughts in a few sentences: From the moment Lauren (365 Days of Reading) read the prologue of this book, then following the excellent “Juliet Can Suck It” review written by Posh (Forever Young Adult), I KNEW When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle would a) be unlike EVERY SINGLE Romeo and Juliet retelling out there and b) it would touch me to MY VERY SOUL. Serle captured heartbreak and all its devastation, sadness, and confusion, breaking up friendships, annihilating What Could Have Been, strengthening other bonds, and whipping up a romance with the kind of guy that demands and refuses to settle for less, is dead set against waiting and waiting, letting his heart be tromped all over. He understands and infuriates, the patient love interest who won’t stand aside and proves to Rosaline what beauty and love is, helping her heal what there is of her heart.

hooking first lines: "Shakespeare got it wrong. His most famous work, and he completely missed the mark."

Simon Pulse • Requested • Contemporary Romance/Retelling • 5/1/12 • $13.07

When You Were Mine
by Rebecca Serle

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends…
Really? AGAIN… Or maybe not.

How many times have we heard this oh-so-tragic tale of starcrossed lovers? Not just in Shakespeare but in EVERYTHING. But, okay, especially Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet never struck as me as romantic, but certainly tragic. And everytime this story gets retold, I’m quick to look for all the spins and twists to make it COOLER THAN SHAKESPEARE’S while still having those delicious nods to the original. NOT THE CASE in When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. There aren’t really any twists. There aren’t very many surprises; we know darn well what’s going to happen. Despite having that knowledge, however, we can’t stop ourselves from falling in love with the guy who will break her heart and we can’t help but love the girl who falls for the idea of a perfect love story with the best friend she’s known next to always.

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is such a wrenching, emotional rendition of the classic story we are all bound to know. Our feelings for this story, this girl stutter in their untouchable place, rendering us helpless because we are undoubtedly consumed by intense heartbreak for the love that never made it and the loss of friends, family as a result, the hurtful complications because the past is never easy to tame, to forgive, the stunning confusion and longing, and the painful spring of hope welling for a love that has yet a chance to grow and weld the two. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle conducts a genuine portrayal of life and all its intricacies, its lessons – both harsh and tentative, and defines the truth of destiny.

Who ARE all the PEOPLE? Why do they matter? Do they resemble the original characters?

So, what’s the biggie about Rosaline? She is the perfect girl next door. The girl with the laidback niceness, the innate goodness, that’s often underappreciated and overlooked, who involuntarily fantasizes about the boy next door—the one she’s known forever, NATURALLY—but never dreams that he could feel the same. She keeps her head down, never bracing for the blow but allowing it to land. She’s shy and sweet, in an interesting sort of way that makes it difficult to overlook anything subtle about her. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is about Rosaline asking questions about what doesn’t make sense and finally making sense of the unknown for herself, with the help of her trusty friends, family, and not to mention the supersuddenlyhot guy she’s been peeking at from the corner of her eyes.

Olivia and Charlie. Seriously the two best friends a girl could have. They bring you coffee in the morning, give you a lift to school, help you match your outfits, slander the name of whoever makes you miserable, and brings you joy with all your shared inside jokes, laughs, shenanigans. These two tolerate Rosaline’s BS, any moping or lingering sadness… to a point. They let her grieve, they push, they defend. They’re not perfect and they don’t ask nor demand Rosaline to be. They put up with whatever the others in the triangular friendship dish out, and support each other when choices go awry.

Len, however, is the sarcastic, witty loner who gets a kick out of charging her up, picking at the things she says. But he’s never a butthole, he never really brings her down. Instead, he’ll swap his good science grade for her crappy one, he’ll tell her straight-up that her best friend is being the biggest piece of shizz on the freaking planet. He’s honest, sharp, patient, though never a doormat. He’s smart and wise and observant, and he makes us forget all about our alliance with Rob, that hope for things between Rob and Rosaline to work out romantically fading into the wind.

Each character is precise, complex, and fun. They make a statement in everything they do, wear, speak. They grow to be a part of us, even the ones we learn to love hating. And the romance brings on EVEN MORE depth.

“You belonged with meeee,” but I changed my mind.

This aspect of the story reminds me a little of The Selection by Kiera Cass. Rosaline has these soft, private dreams about a destiny meant for her and Rob, and those are coaxed out of her by her loving bffs, who heat up more crystal and make everything between her and Rob sound sparkly, romantic, and, yes, fated, ‘meant to be.’ So when those dreams are brutally, inconsiderately crushed by someone she hoped to reach out to and inadvertently by the boy she’s loved all her life, we are left as gaping inside as she, torn of dreams and hope, hating the one who becomes the thief.

Len is the better choice, though the more confusing one. Because, suddenly, Len is scarily attractive and more dead-on accurate about what’s going on inside her than Rosaline is willing to admit. He sees her, sees the girl beyond JUST the girl next door, the one everyone thinks they know. He knows who she is, what she wants, likes, and if he doesn’t know, he finds out and gives her all and more. He stubbornly calls her Rosaline because that’s who she really is as opposed to the cute alternatives and he refuses to hear of anyone else. He’s thoughtful, sexy, and mysterious with the added bonus of sarcasm.

That damn final chapter.

Smart, funny, real. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is told with simple writing that packs so much punch—Serle is the painter who does extraordinary things with the smallest, thinnest brush. Her novel isn’t just about the obvious, it’s about the little things too. About choices, the right ones, the wrongs, and where they lead you. As Serle brilliantly writes,
…fate and destiny can only get you so far. Because they decide beginnings, not endings.
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle tells of the perfect blend between fate and self, and shows us a tender series of steps toward finding and making true love an actuality.

Rating: Special Shelf
Looking for books with a similar feel, try checking out:

Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


Elizabeth Vail said...

Excellent review! Yeah, I was initially not too excited about this book because it sounded like it be all Taylor Swifty 'You Belong with Me' the pure, pure heroine, not with the slutty other girl. But this sounds way better!

J.R. said...

I wasn't going to read this one but now I most definately am.  Great review :)

Heidi said...

Such a beautifully written review, Asher (as always...seriously, how the heck are you so eloquent when fangirling?  I feel like I just drool all over the keyboard).  You have me utterly convinced that I must read this book.  It's honestly the side of the R&J story that I care about, and I agree, R&J was tragic, but not romantic.  I'm so excited to see Rosaline's perspective, and her friends sound wonderful.

April Books & Wine said...

I kind of secretly love Taylor Swift, so that reference? UM, SOLD.

Also? I love your fangirling. And here's the thing, I will gladly read any iteration of Romeo and Juliet or any new takes on that play, so I am pumped about When You Were Mine. AND ALSO? THIS REVIEW? makes me WAY MORE EXCITED. I just purchased this one on audible yesterday. YAYYY.

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

Beautiful review Asher! This sounds amazing and I can't wait to finally start it. I'm glad you liked it! I'm interested in seeing what happens in the final chapter. ;)

Asher Knight said...

 Thank you! I love Taylor Swift don't get me wrong, but this book is so much deeper than that. It's seriously wonderful.

Asher Knight said...


Asher Knight said...

Why, thank you so much, Heidi <333 I HAVE NO IDEA. Sometimes I worry that I am fangirling too much in my review so that you can't understand me. GUESS I SHOULDN'T WORRY xD Everyone really should read this book. It's  a stunner, totally unexpected in its beauty.

Asher Knight said...

I'm not so secret about my TS love. I HEART that girl SO HARD. She sings to my soul xD TOTALLY READ IT, April. I want EVERYBODY to read it!

Glad my fangirling didn't swallow up my coherence. It's so different from what I expected, such a heartfelt surprise, because the characters are so connected, the feelings are so real and believable... I just can't say enough about this one. When I was done, I clutched this bad boy to my chest and just clung.

SO HAPPY YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEN TO IT. I need to buy a finished copy ASAP.

Asher Knight said...

Thanks, Sam!! :D I know I saw that you got it in your mailbox. MAKES ME SO HAPPY that you'll be reading it. I know you don't like contemps too much but this is a fab one!

Sarah (saz101) said...

Oh, Asher! I am so so so SOOOOO happy you loved this so much! I swear this must be your best review yet. You've NAILED it. I want to grab every perfect word you've written, and hug them forever. This book broke my heart. Cracked it completely in two, and stomped on it in dust, but it was BEAUTIFUL. And sweet. There was hope and ... oh, EVERYTHING YOU SAID.


Asher Knight said...

I totally did. Deeply. So much so that I need a finished copy. And until then I'm hanging on tight to my ARC. I'M SO HAPPY that you saw the beauty in it. :DDD