Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Talking to other people isn't Kate Bailey's favorite activity. She'd much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school's podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she'll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.
But to Kate's surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend ... until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.
Kasie West's adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.
What I Liked:
I adore Kasie West's books. I've read all ten of her books (with Listen To Your Heart being her tenth) and I have to dislike one of them. Listen To Your Heart was cute! It was exactly what I expect from West - humorous, subtle romance, tough-issue social themes that are very present but not heavy and pressing, and a happily-ever-after that makes one sigh. I had been in the mood to read a light, cute romance, and I knew West would not let me down.
This book is set in a small town with a big lake, and the lake is Kate's favorite place to be. She knows she wants to take over her parents' marina at the lake when she gets older. What she doesn't want to do is her new podcast class, for which her best friend Alana convince her to sign up. Kate doesn't really like people, and so talking to people on a podcast isn't really her thing, so it's not ideal when she gets chosen to be the cohost of the school's podcast. Go figure! But the more Kate does the podcast hosting, the more comfortable she feels. Especially an anonymous caller keeps calling, asking for advice about his crush, and Kate is sure it's Diego Martinez (Alana's latest crush), asking for advice about his crush on Alana. Everything is peachy until Kate realizes that she is falling for Diego, and she isn't about to go against the girl code. But maybe it's time to take her own advice and be brave.
At first I wasn't totally sold on Kate, because she came across as a little close-minded. She was so stuck on the lake being the only thing she wanted to be around, and how she was definitely going to work there for the rest of her life, and how she didn't need school because she was going to be at the lake forever. She doesn't like people and she doesn't like school. I can understand all of these things, but Kate didn't want to try anything new, and I could see that being frustrating for her parents. But then Kate started to do the podcast hosting (grudgingly, I might add), and she started to open up to trying new things and being more comfortable outside of her comfort zone. I could clearly see Kate's growth throughout the story. It was lovely to see her get away from the lake so much, even though she still loved the lake and drew comfort from it.
Kasie West always builds in positive relationships in her books. I'm talking about familial relationships, and friendships, and of course the romance. Kate has a younger brother who has just started high school, and a whole bunch of cousins who live in the neighboring houses. The marina is family-owned so Kate and her cousins are very close - literally. I love the closeness of the cousins, and wish I had that with my cousins (except we're a sea apart so that doesn't really work). Kate and her parents also have a really positive, healthy relationship. Both of her parents are very active in her life and care a lot about her personal growth and success, and her happiness. I also loved Kate's friendship with Alana. The two girls are very close and supportive, from start to finish. They are each other's sidekicks and wing-women, the ride-or-die types.
I can't not talk about Diego! He's a fascinating secondary character and a great love interest. He's such a sweetheart, the gentlemanly polite type that is also charming and a little flirtatious. He struggles with his parents' high expectations for him, which is something I understand even now at age 22. Diego is by no means perfect, but he is wonderful.
The romance is adorable and subtly swoony! The whole time you're wondering, is Diego crushing on Alana? Alana is crushing on Diego... right? And Kate, Kate is definitely crushing on Diego. So at first I thought this would turn into some bizarre love triangle. But it didn't! Things worked out perfectly and there was no weird love triangle. I admired how Kate was so determined not to fall for Diego or let on that she had feelings for him - she is a good friend. But in the end, I'm also glad she aired things out. But I don't want to spoil how things ended, so I'll stop there!
Some of the social themes in this book included bullying, which was so heartbreaking. West unraveled that plot really slowly and I actually missed it entirely. Looking back, the signs were obvious, and I should have picked up on things. Like I knew something was weird, but I didn't piece together the correct pieces. I like how West addressed the bullying, and how important it was in this book, without being a central part of the plot.
Despite the heavy themes, this book had a light, fun tone, and there was some good humor (as is West's forte). I giggled, and smiled, I swooned (mostly towards the end, where West saves up all the kisses). I loved the ending, not just in terms of the romance, but also in terms of how Kate changed and how she is evaluating her life a little differently.
This was a wonderful story, and yet another hit by Kasie West. I will definitely be rereading this book soon, and I'll be eagerly awaiting her next one!
What I Did Not Like:
I think I say this in all of my reviews of West's books - more swoons! More kisses! Maybe earlier on, not just in the last chapter or two. I love the subtle romances but hey, I wouldn't mind more kissing, and earlier on in the story. Wink!
Would I Recommend It:
If you love YA contemporary romance, you'll love Kasie West's books. I'm not even a YA contemporary person but West is my go-to author when I'm wanting to read a contemporary romance novel. Her romances are sweet and well-written, and I always swoon over the pair. Her stories are more than romances though, which I appreciate. West fans, this new book won't disappoint!
4 stars. This was adorable! And it made me curious about podcasts, which I've never really tried out. What a unique topic to write about. I love West's blend of romance and social themes, and how she always manages to write a sweet contemporary novel with good lessons/messages. I can't wait to read more Kasie West books!
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