Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.
A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?
This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.
What I Liked:
This book was recommended to me by Kathy MacMillan in October, which is how I discovered the novel. I'll be honest - this definitely isn't something I'd typically read. I tend to avoid books with teenage pregnancy, usually because those books are the tough-issue contemporary types, the realistic contemporary novels with mental health issues or trauma or sad, sad stories. I just can't read and enjoy those types of books, so I don't read them. This book, however, was different. There are plenty of "tough issues" addressed in this book, but with a mythological context, and a light tone to the story. It's pretty cool how Gorzelanczyk pulled it off!
Aaryn, son of Cupid, shot Karma with an arrow, and he was supposed to shoot her boyfriend Danny with one too. But a mistake happened, and only Karma got shot with the love arrow. A year later, Aaryn's mistake is found out, and he is sent to Earth as a human (no longer a god) to right his wrong in ninety days. A lot has changed in a year; Karma had a baby, who is now three months old. Karma is desperately in love with Danny, and overlooks so many faults of his. Danny isn't a loving boyfriend, but Aaryn needs Danny to love Karma just as much as she loves him, in order to fix Aaryn's mistake and keep him on Olympus.
I wasn't expecting this book to be quite as... tough-issue-heavy as it was! Nine months after Aaryn shot Karma with an arrow, she had her baby, Nell. Karma is basically raising Nell by herself, with her mother and sister and the help of a few friends here and there. Danny isn't quite a deadbeat dad, but he is constantly too "busy" to watch his daughter on the one to two nights a week. "Busy" meaning partying with other high schoolers, getting drunk, hanging out with his friends, football practice... hooking up with someone else?!
Meanwhile, Karma is so love-struck - literally - that she can't see past his lies and bulls***. She forgives him every time, even makes excuses for him when her mother or sister or friends point out that he is a horrible boyfriend and father. It would be sickening to read (Karma's naivety) if we didn't know exactly why she felt the way she did (she was hit by Cupid's arrow)!
Despite all of that, I really liked Karma. You can't blame her for staying with her jerk boyfriend who is a terrible person and not good for her or her daughter at all. Karma is a very talented dancer, so good that she didn't lose any chance of getting scholarships or winning competition because of her pregnancy. Karma is so strong and tough and normal, even. She's got a baby and she loves her daughter, but she also works hard in school and even harder on the dance floor. Karma never expected to get pregnant or have a baby, but she is such a great teen mom.
Aaryn was a god until he was sent down to Earth to make Danny fall in love with Karma - rather, somehow get Danny to propose to her... yup, that's not going to be easy, with no arrows or god powers or help from Olympus. Aaryn feels awful about how drastically Karma's life changed after his mistake. He's such a sweetie, such a nice and caring guy. Maybe it's because he's a god, or because he's seen so much more than most people, but Aaryn is a genuinely good person.
This book is told in both Aaryn and Karma's first-person POV, starting with Aaryn's. I preferred Aaryn's POV to Karma's because he's such a sweetheart, but also because Karma's denials about Danny's infidelity, her excuses for him, her naivety, grated my nerves a bit. I couldn't fault her, but I REALLY wanted to strangle Danny!
I loved seeing the positive female relationships in this novel. Karma has several girl friends who are also fellow dancers that really support her in everything - dancing, watching Nell (SUCH nice friends!), having her back with Danny. Karma's sister Leah nags Karma about Danny a lot, but Leah means well. There are so many great relationships among females in this book - not a bunch of catty, b****y ones that you usually see in YA contemporary.
I absolutely LOVE the romance in this book. There is subtle chemistry between Aaryn and Karma, but this book isn't about Karma and Aaryn's romance at all, so it's there but it's not. The romance builds very, very slowly - as you might expect, since all Karma can see is Danny. No love triangle (I know, how am I saying that, given this book's structure?!) - you'll have to trust me on that. I love how the romance resolves in this book.
Greek mythology, yo! Aaryn is a son of Cupid, living on Olympus. I love the touch of Greek mythology in this book - more than a touch, really. Everything started with a cupid's arrow...
This book was nothing I expected, nothing I would usually read, but so much that I enjoyed. Overall, I am so glad that I sought out a copy of this one after Kathy MacMillan recommended it to me. It's not something I would find myself reading, but I so enjoyed it!
What I Did Not Like:
Putting a comment about this in the dislikes section - you'd think I wouldn't like the romance, given the way it's set up, but I really liked it. I loved seeing Karma work through relationships, sex, college applications, and making some pretty life-changing decisions.
Yes, I definitely got annoyed with how much she stuck up for Danny. Yes, I really wanted to punch Danny. But then I would remember - it's not Karma's fault!
Would I Recommend It:
If you're a tough-issue contemporary fan, I would DEFINITELY recommend this novel. Yes, it's a mythology-based novel, but it's set in the modern world, and the "tough issues" are heartbreaking and so real. Not something I would usually enjoy (I'm more of a fantasy girl!), but I really liked this book!
4 stars. What a unique and fresh debut novel! Not all heartbreak and doom, but an important story of self-discovery, love, sex, and relationships. Side note - if only guys like Aaryn really did exist!
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