posted at Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 at 8:00 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: YA Books Central
Amazon • The Book Depository
Nothing should come between best friends, not even boys. ESPECIALLY not boys.
Natalie and Brooke have had each other's backs forever. Natalie is the quiet one, college bound and happy to stay home and watch old movies. Brooke is the movie—the life of every party, the girl everyone wants to be.
Then it happens—one crazy night that Natalie can't remember and Brooke's boyfriend, Aiden, can't forget. Suddenly there's a question mark in Natalie and Brooke's friendship that tests everything they thought they knew about each other and has both girls discovering what true friendship really means.
Even though I’d read an enjoyed both of Paige Harbison’s previous novels, I went into Anything to Have You seriously skeptical. Before publication, book’s ratings tend to be fairly high on Goodreads, but Anything to Have You already had 18 ratings and a 2.75 average a month out from publication. Ouch, right? I can totally see why most readers might be having issues with Anything to Have You, because it’s a very non-standard read helmed by unlikable heroines, however I liked it anyway.
Both Natalie and Brooke, the two main characters of Anything to Have You are pretty unlikable. Unlike most YA main characters, they’re popular. They party. They’re hot and they know it. Life comes easy to them. They speak using terms of slut-shaming and call each other “bitch” as an endearment. I know a lot of bookish people really hate this sort of stuff, but I’ve had good friends who had some of these qualities and was able to appreciate the realism of a lot of what Harbison did.
Additionally, the fact that Brooke reminded me of the Brooke from One Tree Hill really proved a boon. Though she starts out the kind of person you hate, there’s room for growth, some of which you get to see come to fruition. Ultimately, I like that the boy drama between Natalie and Brooke, the fight over Aiden, is more about their friendship than about him.
Along the way, the messages are a bit questionable and I was worried about where the book was headed, but, ultimately, I think Harbison managed to handle a number of tough subjects in a pretty even-handed way. Alcoholism, drug use, infidelity, and other such issues are covered in this slim novel, and I don’t think Harbison upholds them as ideals but she also doesn’t outright condemn the characters for ever making a bad choice.
Harbison’s handling of the subject matter isn’t entirely perfect, with the ending coming a bit too smoothly, I think, but I do appreciate what she was trying to do. Anything to Have You will not work for a lot of readers. The way that Natalie and Brooke interact will be a dealbreaker for many, as will issues like infidelity. However, for me, though Anything to Have You is full of subjects that traditionally are huge turn-offs for me as a reader, I did quite like reading it.
I do feel like the book might have been stronger without being written from both points of view. Brooke’s POV didn’t add a whole lot for me and I thought the two voices sounded far too similar. There was also some unneeded repetition when the two girls were in the same scene.
Anything to Have You is maybe what would happen if you had Courtney Summers write the script for One Tree Hill. That’s not going to work for everyone, but it’s fun if you can give the book time and an open mind. Certainly, if like me, you’ve enjoyed Harbison’s work in the past, I think you might like this one as well.
“Yes, but you’re not She’s All That-ing me and taking off my glasses, straightening my hair and putting me in your clothes.”
“Of course not.”
“And you’re not going to stand back, cross your arms and nod while the guy of my dreams double-takes at how gorgeous I’ve become.”
“I know,” she said, patting my back and leading me into the restaurant.
“Because in the end, it will turn out he liked me best before I got the makeover, anyway, so it’s really a waste of time.”
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: