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Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern

Don't Stop NowIt’s Lillian’s last summer before college, and the last way she expects to spend it is by searching for her sort-of-friend Penny who may or may not have faked her own kidnapping to meet someone across the country. But when Lil receives a message from Penny right before her disappearance, Lil realizes that she may be the only one who can figure out Penny’s true whereabouts. So she and her best friend Josh decide to take a road trip in pursuit of Penny. They figure with Josh’s car, his dad’s credit card, and Lil’s phone and wits, they’ll make their sweet way over to the west coast, enjoying their time while also doing a good deed. But it’s not that simple. Lil has a massive crush on Josh, but he’s afraid of ruining the great relationship they already have. How’s Lil supposed to find Penny when she can barely sort through her feelings for her best friend? And when the police and the FBI start phoning, the friends could enter a whole new world of trouble. Can Lil sort through all these problems before the road trip and her last real summer come to an end?

Don’t Stop Now is a sweet and thoughtful story that deviates somewhat from the playful combination of seriousness and hilarity that I became accustomed to in Halpern’s earlier novels, Get Well Soon and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder. Though Don’t Stop Now is sprinkled with random fun facts about all the states Lil and Josh travel through that add some lightness to the story, I felt the overall tone was a lot more serious. Halpern skillfully deals with some very important social issues that many teens face, such where the line between friend and boyfriend falls, how to maintain good relationships with both friends and boyfriend, and the fear of putting oneself out there, to name a few. She portrays this wonderfully through Lil and Josh’s relationship as well as sparse narrations from Penny’s point of view. I really got to know Lil and Penny, and this connection to them made me appreciate their struggles even more. I feel like there aren’t very many novels that address the issues of the high school-college transition as well as Halpern does, and while I do miss the outright laughter I got from Get Well Soon and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, and although Don’t Stop Now didn’t quite grab me in the same way those other novels did, this is very well written and worthwhile story to read. I do deeply love what Halpern has done with this book.

Fans of Get Well Soon and Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, also by Julie Halpern, should not miss Don’t Stop Now. This novel is also sure to be enjoyed by fans of Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter, Beauty Shop for Rent by Laura Bowers, and Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian. I can’t wait to see what Halpern writes next.

Rating: 4.25

Review copy from publisher Macmillan

2 munch(es) :

We Heart YA said...

We agree that not many novels tackle the to-college transition (in part b/c publishers seem to think readers aren't that interested in college life...?!) so this sounds good. We're a bit surprised to hear that it focuses so much on a romantic relationship when initially it would seem like Penny is in trouble... but maybe we're just misunderstanding the situation. Plus we hear SO many great things about Julie Halpern!

Cialina at Muggle-Born.net said...

I've never read anything by this author before, but I love the sound of a roadtrip in the summer! Sounds like a great read for the warm weather.

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