Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia DayThe Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 6, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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two-half-stars

Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted-- he's admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There's only one obstacle in Ash's path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden's ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college -- and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream -- one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I was really looking forward to The Possibility of Somewhere. I mean, it’s got a Pride & Prejudice comparison in the copy, and, if there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s that. About half the time, or perhaps more, those Austen comparisons end up being a trap. A terrible, painful trap. In this case, I ended up somewhere in between heaven and a trap. The Possibility of Somewhere didn’t quite achieve its possible somewhere, but it wasn’t a horrid trap.

Obviously, I love the concept of this contemporary: an interracial romance loosely (very loosely) following the structure of Pride & Prejudice. Ash Gupta and Eden Moore have vaguely disliked each other for ages, in competition for the coveted valedictorian spot. Ash is a wealthy, hot Indian guy with lots of friends and Eden’s a white girl from the wrong side of the tracks with no friends. By choice, she would be sure to tell you. She doesn’t have time for friends because she’s holding down AP classes, her grade point average and a job.

During her senior year, as Eden works frantically to find a way to get herself a full scholarship to UNC, the only way she can avoid spending at least two more years living at home and going to community college, things don’t quite go as planned. First, a new girl at school, Mundy Cruz, wedges herself into Eden’s life and teaches her that friendship might, you know, be a nice thing. I’d have liked to see a bit more of Mundy herself, but she ends up being one of those secondary characters who’s entirely there in a supporting role. She’s there to push Eden out of her comfort zone and even her romance serves to motivate the “antagonist.”

Then there’s Ash. It’s not like Eden didn’t know he was hot, but that’s all been buried beneath how annoying she finds him. He’s always so controlling in group projects and he, in turn, resents the way that she pushes back and puts down his ideas. Everything between them begins to shift when they’re assigned to act out a modernization of the proposal scene in Pride & Prejudice for English class. It forces them to acknowledge both their attraction to one another and their circumstances (in one of the best scenes in the book imo).

However, sadly, that was the pinnacle of my delight in Ash and Eden’s relationship, and I progressively believed less and less in their connection. It’s not quite an unship, but I just do not see them lasting. Unlike in Pride & Prejudice where the primary thing keeping Darcy and Elizabeth apart is their personalities, despite the fact that many of their family and friends wouldn’t approve, Ash and Eden are totally in love but don’t want to deal with those consequences. The tonal shift from P&P isn’t an improvement.

Because they know their parents won’t approve (Ash’s because she’s a poor white girl from a trailer trash family and Eden’s because her father is a racist who was actually laid off by Ash’s dad), they decide to keep their relationship a secret. Now, in theory, this could work, because there’s no reason in causing problems if there’s nothing there anyway. However, there’s this undercurrent of shame to it in this case that I really didn’t like. And then, when the truth inevitably comes out, I really really hate the way Ash handles it.

I also found the way that race is handled in this book a bit…odd. Mundy reacts to her new school and asks if it’s always this “segregated.” That’s the book’s word, not mine. The black kids sit with the black kids, the Asians with the Asians, etc. Now, I didn’t grow up in North Carolina where this book is set, but I did grow up in the South and attend a diverse high school. Based on the amount of diversity in the school, I really wouldn’t expect it to be so neatly racially segregated. You definitely had groups that preferred to stay with their own race, but there were also plenty of groups of kids based on other connections. This seemed like a convenient plot device by which to make the interracial romance even more forbidden. Certainly Ash’s friends are all completely disgusted by Eden’s whiteness. I hate that they’re just this sneering clump in the distance and the reader never gets to know them at all. Maybe things are different in that part of North Carolina, but that all seemed very weird to me. The parents’ reactions seemed much more believable, but I didn’t get why the whole school freaked the fuck out about it.

What saved the book a bit for me was Eden’s relationship with her stepmother. They get a bad rap in fiction, but Marnie’s the only good parent that Eden has ever had, and their relationship is so sweet. Marnie truly loves Eden fiercely and, in fact, she wanted the kids more than the husband. That’s not something I’ve seen in fiction, and I have a major weakness for the found family trope. Eden’s relationship with Kurt, the Autistic boy she babysits is also very sweet.

I enjoyed The Possibility of Somewhere as I was reading, but as I sat here writing this review, my rating has dropped. There’s even more little elements I didn’t address that I don’t think it did especially well. I think this book takes on a bit too much (and fails to deal with much of it adequately) and goes for the dramatic forbidden romance dynamic to the detriment of believability.

Favorite Quote:

“Let me tell you what isn’t fair. It it’s fair that Kurt is different. It isn’t fair he’ll spend the rest of his life in a world that doesn’t try to understand him. But what’s most unfair is that his teacher acts like he’s to blame.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif even with the distance bend it like beckham airport
You have to genderswap this, but otherwise on point

One response to “Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day”

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