In a World Just Right
by Jen Brooks
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Published April 28th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.
Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.
But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.
This is from the opening scene of the book. In the middle of the night, worried, Jonathan goes to Kylie’s room.
I don’t actually want to talk. I want more kissing. I want more her. I reach for her hand, separate out her index finger, and draw it down the left side of my face, from my eye practically to my jaw. She doesn’t flinch, and that is exactly what I need. I pull up my shirt and place her hand on my chest, where the scarring is the worst. She moves her fingers over the snarls and craters, caresses them, then replaces my shirt and kisses the scar on my face.
Her eyes look into mine. Most people can’t look me in the eyes. The real Kylie has never looked me in the eyes, but this Kylie seeps into me with a gaze. She is not disgusted by me. She loves me.
She puts a finger to the scar on my face. “Is this bothering you again?”
“I don’t know.” Actually, that’s a lie. What’s bothering me is the weird cosmic whisper I got just before I came here, which scared me more than my near-death memories, but I do not discuss cosmic topics with Kylie.
Thankfully, she rolls with my faked ignorance and stays focused on my scar. “It’s just a line.” She moves a little deeper into the covers and puts her head on my chest, ear to my heart.
“And evidence that you’re a miracle.”
I enfold her in my arms and say nothing. No one in the real world cares that I’m a miracle, not since the doctors congratulated themselves and discharged me.
“Seriously,” she says, and I can feel her words vibrate against my chest. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Talking won’t help. Sometimes the truth cannot set you free. Sometimes, when the night is bad and the universe taunts me, I just need to be with my girlfriend.
“I feel better now,” I say.
Kylie breathes a contented sigh and snuggles against me. My body practically shivers with the ecstasy of being with her. She’s everything I need to live, and she’s not even real.
Jen has a habit of being deeply moved by profound ideas, and her writing reflects her interest in exploring human goodness, relationships, and the feeling of being a part of something greater than oneself. She loves the science fiction and fantasy genres because of their dazzling possibilities for portraying characters and ideas. She credits her undergraduate experience at Dartmouth College, her MFA at Seton Hill University, and her fourteen years of English teaching with shaping her writing. She is grateful to her family, friends, and students for inspiring her to write.
Check out my review HERE.