Thursday, March 7, 2024

#AmReading YA

In the Orbit of You
 by Ashley Schumacher
Published by Wednesday Books on March 19, 224
Age/Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In the Orbit of You is a YA story of enduring love from acclaimed author Ashley Schumacher, where a personality test reunites two friends and makes them second guess their careful plans.

It's been years since Nova Evans last saw Sam. She was too young then to understand why he had to move away―and what it had to do with the cuts and bruises he got from home and never wanted to talk about. All she knew is that they promised to find each other when they were older, something she thought was impossible thanks to her and her mom moving around constantly. Until she bumps into Sam in her new school, and realizes he has clearly forgotten their childhood promise.

Sam Jordan has a plan for his accept his college football scholarship, date his girlfriend Abigail, and―most importantly―hide how much he wants to do something, anything other than The Plan™ his parents and coaches have set before him. It doesn't matter if sometimes he finds himself thinking about the new girl he met in the cafeteria, a girl who reminds him of a past that hurts to remember.

When a school-wide personality test reveals Nova and Sam to be each others' top matches―not only that, but a match of 99%, the highest in the school―they begin to remember why they were such close friends, all those years ago. As well as the myriad of reasons this new-yet-familiar, magnetic, sparkling thing between them will never, ever work out.

In the Orbit of You is a story about the enduring and changing nature of friendship, of the strange struggle between who you are and who you want to be, and finding your voice after trauma.

Nova and Sam were childhood friends who found comfort in each other. When Sam, who lived in an abusive home, was leaving to live with his uncle, he made a "promise, promise" to find Nova again when they were "big". It seemed the universe thought it was time, and they found themselves reunited when they both seemed to need each other most.

I have adored Schumacher's books since my very first one, Amelia Unabridged. There is something special about the way she crafts her characters and takes such care with their personal journeys. I am always moved as I read these characters' stories and extremely happy for where it takes them.

I found the idea of fate bringing these two in and out of each others lives at vital points so beautiful. When they were five, Nova provided comfort to Sam as he endured physical abuse at the hands of his father. Further down the line, they were at a crossroads in their lives, and it seemed they each had something to offer the other.

Due to his traumatic past, Sam worked hard to avoid conflict, and often found himself agreeing to or stuck in situations that he really wasn't onboard with. Now, in his senior year, he was struggling with his future - playing football, dating the cheerleader, not pursuing his love of woodwork. His desire not to hurt others was keeping him from his happiness.

Then there was Nova. She moved around constantly for her mother's job. She was a junior and this was her SIXTH high school. In order to survive, she became a chameleon, adapting to her surroundings. Due to this defense mechanism, she was suffering a personal crisis of not really knowing who she was or what she wanted. This scared her because the future was knocking on her door.

I believe so many people will be able to relate to Nova and Sam's personal struggles in some way and will root for these two the way I did. I was so happy they found each other when they did because it helped them make those hard decisions and have those honest discussions with the people they loved. The connection between Nova and Sam was undeniable, and I couldn't help but celebrate each step they took that brought them closer to each other as it was easy to see that they needed to tap into that special bond they shared.

Overall, this was a beautiful story filled with love and friendship. It was about figuring out who you are, what you want, and not being afraid to ask for it. I know I was elated that the universe brought Sam and Nova back into each others orbits, and I was filled with glee at where their journeys took them.


The Atlas of Us
 by Kristin Dwyer
Published by HarperTeen on January 9, 2024
Age/Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Atlas James has lost her way.

In a last-ditch effort to pull her life together, she’s working on a community service program rehabbing trails in the Western Sierras. The only plus is that the days are so exhausting that Atlas might just be tired enough to forget that this was one of her dad’s favorite places in the world. Before cancer stole him from her life, that is.

Using real names is forbidden on the trail. So Atlas becomes Maps, and with her team—Books, Sugar, Junior, and King—she heads into the wilderness. As she sheds the lies she’s built up as walls to protect herself, she realizes that four strangers might know her better than anyone has before. And with the end of the trail racing to meet them, Maps is left counting down the days until she returns to her old life—without her new family, and without King, who’s become more than just a friend.

Feeling alone and untethered following her father's death, Atlas looked to the trail to find some answers.

And he always said the trail was a place for answers.

Dwyer blew me away with her debut, Some Mistakes Were Made, and once again, she immersed me in someone else's pain which had me experiencing a myriad of emotions. While her father was ailing, Atlas wasn't the best at expressing what she was feeling. She acted out and made bad decisions. After her father passed, Atlas found a list of things he had wanted to do before his death and made a decision to do those tasks for him.

I know, I know, you have read many books with a similar premise, but there was a lot more to this story. It wasn't just about checking items off a list. In fact, the story really only focused on one - reopening a hiking trail which was special to her father.

I feel like I’m drowning and failing and I’m scared and angry and I’ve lost myself somewhere along the way.

Being on the trail resulted in both a physical and emotional journey for Atlas. She was so angry and was weighed down by the poor decisions she made and the negative labels she accumulated leading up to her father's death. Atlas did experience some healing on the trail, but she also began to find her way back to herself and embarked on forgiving her past transgressions.

These people see me. They make loving me seem easy. It makes me want to let them.

Atlas' personal journey was a central part of this story, but so were the connections she made with the other "blues" on the trail. Her group was comprised of four other hikers, two leaders and two "bad kids". In their attempt to survive their arduous trek through the Sierras, they formed a bond that Atlas may have tried but ultimately failed to resist. The relationships among these intrepid hikers were special, and it was so wonderful to see how their friendships flourished off the trail.

This was a beautiful portrait of one person's attempt to pick up the pieces of her world after it had imploded. Dwyer did a lovely job guiding me through Atlas' emotions and made this journey even more meaningful by coupling it with some wilderness survival. I adored the group assembled to support Atlas through this process, and I reveled in the ending. A very touching tale.

Have you ever been camping?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I was thinking The Atlas of Us cover was dark and gloomy. It sounds like it fits Atlas's journey. Great reviews.

  2. For some reason my comment went in as anonymous. It was me, just so you know.

    1. The cover is a mood for sure, and Atlas was in a pretty dark place in the beginning.

  3. Well my heart already hurts for Sam, just from your review. I want to snatch him up and hug him.

    1. I felt a lot of empathy for him, especially because he was afraid to disappoint people, worrying that they would leave him.

  4. I love the hiking, outdoors aspect to The Atlas of Us. "Through hikers" the ones that do those long hikes like the Pacific Northwest or the John Muir trail take on "trail" names and it sounds like that's what they did here.

    1. I know the John Muir trail from another book! Look at how much of the west coast I am getting to know. The author did a great job conveying the difficulties and rewards of the hikes. I enjoyed that aspect a lot

  5. Love these reviews so much, thank you for sharing, Sam! Both books are on my TBR, but I am a bit nervous to read them. I know I'm going to cry / feel emotional, so I need to be in the right mood for them! <3

    1. They had those moments, but the overall feeling is of hope.

  6. Now you have me curious about Schumacher books Sam! And teh Atlas of Us is getting quite a lot of great reviews at the moment!

    1. Both were great. I am not sure why Atlas didn't rate higher for me. Maybe it was too much anger, but I did enjoy it a lot.