ARC Review

First Love; *Im*Possible Dreams and Teenage Drama all Packed Together | ARC Review: Awake In The World by Jason Gurley

A boy, a girl, an impoverished oil town, and a star-crossed romance saved by the fight for survival.

As the sun sets off the coast of the small California town of Orilla del Cielo, you can see the silhouettes of the oil rigs. Their shadows look jarring against the serene backdrop, their sharpness a reminder of unfulfilled promises. To Zach, they are a reminder of loss—his father, an oil worker who drowned years before. With a poor family struggling to make ends meet, Zach’s future feels equally bleak. Until he meets Vanessa, an optimistic girl whose sights are literally set on the stars. Inspired by her idol, Carl Sagan, she plans to study astronomy at Cornell. But as oil prospectors in search of black gold know, the future is uncertain . . . and fortunes can always be flipped.

Jason Gurley delivers a gorgeous debut young adult novel about dreams and believing in love—and yourself—to reach them.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an ARC copy of the book by USBorne YA in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Trigger Warnings: Mental Health Issues – Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks.

Awake in The World is the kind of coming of age YA romance that is interesting as well as fascinating – especially when you read it after a series of books in the fantasy genre! Told in dual POVs – Zach and Vanessa – are two high school seniors from the opposite ends of town – not only economically but also motivationally.

Zach is the second kid in a family of four; his mother is in a deep depressive state after they lost their father in an accident on the oil rig where he worked – he knows that he will not be going to college; but will be following in the footsteps of his father and elder brother to work on an oil rig to support his family or rather his two younger sisters.

Vanessa; on the other hand, is a recent transplant to this town but she also is one who lives for the stars, literally. She is an optimistic girl who believes that everyone can achieve their dreams; no matter what obstacles they may face.

When Zach and Vanessa collide; it’s not only their difference in their economic status that is the obstacle between them; but also the different outlooks towards their lives and their futures.  

I have to be honest; at least half of the book is the budding relationship between Zach and Vanessa – a romance that is sweet and adorable as the first loves; but slowly but surely life’s realities start to intrude and both, Zach and Vanessa, have to decide on a little maturity and a whole lot of faith to get through their life.

But it the second half the book; that makes the whole book worth a read – but you should know to expect a little immaturity, a little repetitiveness in the conversations but I loved how the book ended; a little open and a lot more hope. 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .75



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