Lucky me! I received an e-ARC of Keep My Heart in San Francisco by Amelia Diane Coombs. Amelia and I are both represented by the incredible Jennie Kendrick at Red Fox Literary. Keep My Heart in San Francisco is Amelia's debut novel.
Amelia Diane Coombs (photo credit: Sarah Deragon)
Amelia Diane Coombs writes books for young adults. Back in the day, she majored in English and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing. Now Amelia writes unlikable female protagonists, positive mental health representation, and swoony romances with soft boys. She's a Northern California transplant living in Seattle, Washington, with her partner and their Siberian cat. When she isn't writing or reading, Amelia happily fills her days beekeeping, playing card and tabletop games, hiking, and volunteering with cats.
Simon Pulse - YA novel
release date: July 14, 2020
Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.
Caroline "Chuck" Wilson has big plans for spring break--hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth's Bowl, her family's failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent--meaning they might be losing Bigmouth's, the only thing keeping Chuck's family in San Francisco.
And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.
So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to hustle bowlers for cash around the Bay Area, she accepts. But she can't shake the nagging feeling that she's acting reckless much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett's charm is winning her back over...in ways that go beyond friendship.
If Chuck fails, Bigmouth's Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.
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I love this book! Chuck is a multilayered character you cannot help but root for. And Beckett... *sigh* I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just say brava to Amelia for writing a boy I would have wanted to know in high school. Chuck and Beckett have zing-tingly chemistry, and hello? A hot ex-best friend swooping in with a potentially dangerous plan when the stakes are high? What a fun read! Also, how unique to have a YA novel revolving around bowling, hustling, and vintage clothes. So enjoyable!
This is a great example of when setting--here, the city of San Francisco--is like its own character. All the senses come through, tied to various places in and around the city. Chuck's love for--and desperation to stay in--San Francisco is tangible. I appreciate how some of the less-than-beautiful parts of the city are shown. Since Chuck truly loves and knows the city, she sees its imperfections without getting shocked by or hung up on them--as one does in true love.
I also appreciate how the setting in each scene was drawn concisely which, as a writer, I know can be challenging. I saw each scene clearly without feeling bogged down in setting, and the setting never slowed the pace. The novel's a total page-turner.
Keep My Heart in San Francisco is written in first person, present tense which was a wise and appropriate choice because of the immediacy and depth it offers when it comes to Chuck and her thoughts. Something I really love about this book is how it portrays mental health. I know positive mental health representation is important to Amelia, and mental health is a strong piece of this novel. I love how she shows it from different angles, sensitively exemplifying positive representation without being didactic.
I highly recommend Keep My Heart in San Francisco. I'd love to share the first line, but I'm not sure I can. Instead, I'll suggest you check it out for yourselves and read the book when it comes out this summer!
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"An absolute charmer of a book that's romantic and chock-full of vintage quirk, set in one of my favorite cities. Coombs has crafted wonderfully messy characters who cope with mental health issues in positive ways, and I love that. Delightful!"
- Jenn Bennett, author of Alex, Approximately
"Amid high stakes bowling, charming and relatable friendship-to-romance, and--of course--the joys of San Francisco, Coombs crafts nuanced portraits of mental illness and the complicated legacies of parenthood. This rich and delightful debut kept our hearts from page one."
-Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley, authors of Always, Never, Yours and If I'm Being Honest
I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing for the ARC. I had already pre-ordered the book, but it was fun to get a sneak peek!