Friday, May 22, 2015

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) by Sarina Bowen Review

Hey Readers! Happy Friday! I hope you are all gearing up for an awesome start to your holiday weekend. I know I cannot wait for mine to start! Before you get too comfortable setting into your weekend plans, I've got a book review for you. This is the first book in what has very quickly become my all-time favorite NA-college series. Hands down, no question. So far there are four full length novels and a novella out for this one, and I've loved each and every one. What am I raving about tonight? The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen, the first novel in The Ivy Years series. Here's a bit about the book and our author before we get to my thoughts:

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.


Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont's Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.)

Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.


My Thoughts:

Reading as many novels as I do, it isn't often that I get to say that a series has changed my bookish life. It isn't often that I read a novel (or a series) where I have to stop reading multiple times throughout and take a moment to compose myself before continuing. Not only because of the feels, but because of the thought provoking reflections on our own lives that come to light. I've been complaining for months that NA contemporary was going down the drain. Book after book of meaningless romance, raunchy sex, and less than epic resolutions. My NA contemporary game lately has really been lacking. Enter Sarina Bowen. World=Exploded.

Before I really even get into this, I'm just going to go ahead and admit that, like a dummy, I didn't stop to review each book in this series after I finished. I simply could not stop reading. I've devoured the first four and I'm near finished with the fifth. Thankfully these are all standalones and can be read individually so I'm not worried about missing plot points. Let this be a warning to you all, once you stop this series, you will not be able to put it down.

In the past week, I have recommended this novel and series to EIGHT different readers. All eight of them devoured this read in record time and were begging for more. That's a lot of reading in one week folks. Trust me, this series will blow your bookish mind. Don't trust my words? Look at the near 1800 5-star ratings on Goodreads alone!

The plot to The Year We Fell Down is one of the more unique ones I have ever read. Usually in an NA novel we see one 'perfect' character and then another flawed one. In this novel, both characters had their flaws. Internally and externally. The biggest obstacles dealt with overcoming Corey's disability and Hartley's injury. I think the entire tale was weaved to perfection. While we watch their romance evolve, we don't just see the physical embodiment of love, we really see much deeper. The reader really learns about the deepest depths of romance through the stories of these characters. I won't say much to avoid spoilers, but by the time I finished the novel I has been from one extreme of the emotional circuit to the other. Laughter, feels, sorrow, heartbreak, I'd seen it all. Bowen came out of the gates with guns-blazing on this series and it paid of fin a big way.

I love reading about characters with special flaws. Corey is a beautiful, intelligent, strong willed woman, who just so happens to be disabled. Crippled by a freak accident, her lifeline (hockey) removed from her grasp. Hartley's story is nearly the same, only his injuries are only temporary. Both of these main characters were written to perfection. Even as someone who has never had to face the physical trials as these characters, I was greatly able to relate to their struggles. Their feels were my feels. I grew so attached to these characters that it was hard to let them go when the story ended. Especially Corey. This novel really showcases some of the more hard hitting and intimate hardships of being a college-aged student living with a disability. It's truly uplifting to see that these two characters were able to rise above and have such a powerful conclusion to their tales. As per the secondary characters? Bowen writes her characters so as the reader never knows who may pop up in future books. Just about ever character is seen again. It's a really neat situation! I won't go into the other characters here, because I'll cover them in their own reviews!

Can I just say that I wish I had gone to Harkness College? What a fun place to be? The classical architecture, the house divisions, the amount of school spirit and campus pride? Yeah. I can definitely get behind that. I said this earlier, but I believe that Sarina Bowen has written the perfect college setting within Harkness. It's so awesome! I really got the feel that I, too, was attending classes next to these characters! Talk about reader immersion!

Bowen covers a plethora of different themes in each of the novels in this series. The Year We Fell Down is full of great themes, but I believe the most prevalent one is learning to forgive yourself. Corey is having a very hard time adjusting to college life with her disability, but by the end of the novel we not only see hope in Corey's condition, but also her outlook on life. Corey learns again to lover herself despite her injury. Themes of forgiveness, family, and obviously, love also play huge roles in this story. I've learned lots of lessons from this series and it's made me not only a better reader, but also a better person for having read them.

As you guys can all clearly see, this was definitely the novel for me. It renewed my faith in the New Adult genre and I cannot wait to see what happens next. The world needs more authors like Sarina Bowen. Authors who aren't afraid to write the trust about being a New Adult. Authors who understand that college isn't all about fun. It's a stressful time fueled heartache and confusion. Balancing work, school, and any inkling of a social life isn't easy, and Bowen clearly knows that. It's so refreshing to see an author correctly portray the NA lifestyle!

All-in-all, it should come as absolutely no surprise that I am granting The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen a near-perfect 5-star review. With a book this awesome, you can't help but rave about it. And you sure can't beat a free book, any day of the week! Add this one to your TBR folks, you will not be disappointed!


Well. Writing that review wore me out. This series people. Man. Like I said in the beginning, in just a weeks' time, this as become my all-time favorite college-themed New Adult series. I cannot say that enough. This series has brought me more joy than any read I've devoured in a very long time. I cannot wait to share my thoughts on the rest of the series. Heads up, one of them is now one of my all-time favorite novels. Yes. I just said that. Anyway, you guys be sure to check this one out, especially seeing as it's FREE! What are you waiting for? Check it out! Until next time, Happy Reading!


No comments:

Post a Comment