Seven Oaks Series, Book 1
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Lily O’Brien has one goal in life—to sing. Her dream is to get into a topnotch college vocal program, but the summer before her junior year, her high school cuts their awarding-winning vocal ensemble. She might as well kiss her dreams goodbye.
When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.
He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. Through her newfound friendship, she finds the strength to step outside the comfort of her plan and follow her dream.
But when Lily’s family is about to lose their home, she puts her wishes aside and finds the answer to save their generations-old ranch in the last place she expected.
Review: Lily O’Brien loves to sing and has her whole future planned out. She’ll finish her two remaining years of high school and then will head out to the Berkeley’s music program. But her perfect plan quickly unravels when her high school’s music program is cut off due to financial issues. Without any musical background for the rest of her high school years, her chances to get into Berkeley are seriously jeopardized. Lily’s only hope is to apply to private schools and keep her fingers crossed that she’ll be accepted with a scholarship. On top of that, the sixteen years old girl also needs to considerate her family’s situation. She lives with her dad, little brother, her aunt, cousin, and grams in the family’s ranch and has to juggle between her dad’s alcohol problem and the new neighbors who invaded the ranch when her grams had to sell lands to pay taxes.
Just Sing evolves mostly around Lily’s struggle with her family, the reality of her dreams, and her first relationship issues with the neighbors’ son Aiden. Honestly Lily is a truly amazing character and she is very easy to like. She is strong-willed and her loyalty and love for her family is admirable. I totally got where she came from and was astonished by how well she is handling everything. She has much more in her plate than any average sixteen years old girl but she never acts like a victim which I loved. I was also particularly moved by her relationship with her grams, and all the problems her family is going through during the book made me weep quite a bit.
Of course, Just Sing is also a book about first love. Lily and Aiden are tiptoeing around their relationship’s statute most of the story and walk the very tiny line between love and friendship throughout the summer that is covered by the book. I, as a reader, had a very love/hate relationship with theirs. Aiden is complicated, he makes lots of mistakes for which he always has a very convenient excuse, and he always oscillates between being cocky and kind. I get that he has some sort of shield to protect himself from others but the guy honestly seemed bipolar at times. At the end of the day I think I let him get away with a lot of things, just like Lily did, mostly because I was moved by his family’s issues. To be honest I would be curious to see some insight in his life and some scenes from his point of view. His family has major resolving to do and even though he comes out as an annoying brat at times I think his parents have a part to play in his attitude. I would also love to read the scene where Aunt Susan goes out to confront him on Lily’s behalf. I wasn’t too warm about Aunt Susan before that but I was a total cheerleader for her at this particular time 😉
Overall I think this one was a good first novel. If the writing seemed a bit hesitant and shaky at times, the characters were compelling and Lily is impossible not to care about. I’m curious to see how the sequel will play out even though I’m worried that the love triangle will make an appearance. The Jeremiah’s thing is way too big to ignore and even if I had my issues with Aiden I’ll still root for him no matter what.
Anyway Just Sing was the fresh read I was looking for and that’s probably why I enjoyed it so much despite its flaws.