Title – Again
Author – Lisa Burstein
Publication Date – September 22, 2014
How far would you go for a second chance?
Eleven years after flunking out of college, Kate has finally hit rock-bottom. Losing her job and boyfriend in one drunken night, she’s determined to fix her life by going back to the moment when she let partying and sex take over and do things right. At twenty-nine, she heads back to freshman year of college, with a catch.
Pretending she’s nineteen with a new roommate and full class schedule is easy. When she meets her shy, sexy and seven-years-younger RA Carter, following her self-imposed sobriety and celibacy rules is proving to be anything but.
A senior enduring years of regret, Carter is more than ready to graduate. He’s anxious to move on from the party his freshman year where he witnessed his frat brothers about to commit a sexual assault. Instead of doing the right thing and stepping in, he looked the other way and left. His guilt has made for a lonely four years.
When he meets the new freshman on his floor, spunky and confident Kate, he wonders if his time as an outcast has finally come to an end.
Kate and Carter’s growing friendship and undeniable attraction make it harder to hide the demons from their respective pasts. But when their secrets are finally revealed, will their chance at starting over together still be there?
I love discovering new authors who just have a way of moving me with their words. Again by Lisa Burstein piqued my interest with the cover, buzzed my curiosity with the blurb, and held every ounce of my attention with the follow through. Above all else, this was a tale of acceptance and redemption for both the main characters. Their journey was sometimes difficult to witness, but to see the tremendous character growth and how they each navigated their paths just felt so touching to be a part of.
“You never fully recovered from tragedy, from experiencing the worst of human nature.”
After being dumped and losing her job at twenty-nine, Kate decides to re-enroll in college as a freshman. She wants a second chance to improve her life and after listening to her inner thoughts, you can’t really blame her. Her first day on campus, she meets Carter – her RA. He also has a past he has been battling, yet is unable to escape from it. Together, they begin to learn to trust again, and through that trust comes perspective and healing. Kate and Carter are continuously faced with their own demons, but it’s not until they each discover acceptance of the issues that they can come full circle to begin healing. The twist that was written in was one that I honestly never saw coming, but it was quite an interesting way to force Kate to face her own mistakes.
“Actually, every mistake feels at least partly amazing, otherwise you wouldn’t keep making them.”
Again is written in dual points of view, so we get to hear from both Kate and Carter throughout the book. Considering they are each dealing with their own issues, aside from the mutual attraction, it certainly helped to get glimpses inside both heads. The idea of a twenty-nine year old going back as a freshman in college and even remotely getting away with it was a little out of reach for my beliefs. However, the premise of second chances and growing up was done superbly and more than made up for it. With each step that Kate took, we were able to see her truly evaluate her life and her past decisions. On the same token, Carter carried a mountain of guilt from a mistake that he had made. As much as others tried to get him to move on, he just was not really able to bring himself to do it until he met Kate. The two really were mirrors for each other – forcing the other to evaluate where they stood. There just seemed to be a natural progression of both storylines throughout, leading me to get completely lost in the words.
“I will always want the true you, and for you I will always be the true me.”
As the story unfolds and lessons are learned, something just happened and I fell utterly in love with these two characters, both as individuals and as a couple. Lisa Burstein has a special touch with her words and paints such vivid pictures. There were several times where I had to pause and just take them in. Her characters are so realistically portrayed dealing with their pasts and attempting to change for the future, and that was one of my favorite things about this book. Again is a book that I will come back to time and time again because of how strong the message of not letting our mistakes define us flows effortlessly through it. I absolutely recommend this to other readers, particularly if you’re looking for broken characters who somehow look past life’s imperfections to figure out where they’re supposed to be!
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Lisa Burstein is the author of the Young Adult Novels: Pretty Amy and Dear Cassie, and the New Adult Novels & Novellas: Sneaking Candy, The Next Forever & The Possibility of Us. She is also a contributor to the essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 Young Adult Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. Again is her self-publishing debut.