ARC Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

May 7, 2013 / 9 Comments / Review, Uncategorized

How My Summer Went Up in Flames
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source/Format: eARC provided on Edelweiss
Publication date: May 7, 2013 (Today!)
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…


How My Summer Went Up in Flames is one of those on the fence novels for me. It’s good, but not great, and it’s fun, but not hilariously funny. It’s right in the middle.

I think the most interesting thing about this novel was how the author wasn’t afraid to make Rosie unlikeable. I really disliked Rosie at the beginning of the novel. She was shallow, selfish, and really materialistic. She refused to own up to her mistakes, and instead of being grateful for the road trip that Matty was taking her on, she just whined.

During the first third of the novel, I really wondered if that was how she was going to be throughout, and I was getting annoyed. Luckily, Doktorski was pulling a fast one on me, and throughout the road trip, we really saw the real and true Rosie come out. The true Rosie is a lot better of a person than I expected, and she makes some real discoveries about herself that had me cheering at the end.

The character development with the four main characters, Rosie, Matty,
and brothers Logan and Spencer was great. The guys had a lot more to
them than met the eye, and Spencer, in particular, displayed sides that I
really liked. 

While nothing wowed me about the writing in How My Summer Went Up in Flames, I did appreciate how quintessentially TEEN Rosie’s voice was. I really feel like a lot of teens will relate to her. She definitely reminded me of how I talked and thought when I was a teenager.

Overally, I wasn’t totally swept away by this novel. It’s a fun road trip novel, but I guess it felt a bit like it had been done before and better.


Road Trip to Self-Discovery: Honestly, the road trip is what got me to read this novel. I LOVE road trip novels, and I love what characters learn about themselves while they’re on road trips. The self-discovery aspect is particularly good in this novel.

Real Love Triangle: I know some of you out there HATE love triangles, but this is a really good one (unlike the Katniss-Peeta-Gale one) – mainly because I really couldn’t decide what was going on or who to go for. There’s no clear winner on who Rosie should pick, and I really liked that.

A Girl Who Owns Her Girliness: One thing I totally loved about Rosie was how much she owned her own girliness. She wasn’t afraid to be the girl who was high maintenance: she liked mani-pedis, having her hair done, and wearing pretty dresses, and that didn’t stop her from being sassy.

The Final Word

How My Summer Went Up in Flames is a solid debut novel, with an interesting concept and relateable characters who are well-developed. It won’t blow your socks off, but it’s a good, fast read that would be perfect for the beach.

HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES comes out today! Are you interested in reading it? Are you into road trip novels, or real love triangles? How much unlikeable character can you take before the switch needs to be flipped? Sound off in the comments!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Want more YA reviews and bookish fun? Get Mostly YA Lit in your inbox and be the first to get notified on new updates.

9 responses to “ARC Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

  1. I really want to read it!! First of all, I LOVE the cover and the title. And I always judge books by their appearance. XP
    Second, I'm a teen and Rosie sounds realistic and easy to relate to. It's been a long time since I read a book where the main character is girly and not tough kick-ass…

    Thanks for sharing!!! I really want to read this book.
    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

    • Awesome. I'm so glad my review didn't deter you. I also love the cover and title, and they suit the book.

      It sounds like the right read for you – Rosie is dramatic and impulsive, but she also learns a lot and she's not afraid to own who she is. =) Hope you enjoy!

  2. I don't mind love triangles if done properly and this one sounds pretty interesting. That being said I don't read a lot of contemporary and hearing that you're pretty on the fence about this one, I don't think it would be for me.

  3. Fair enough – it's not really your scene, Christa! The love triangle is pretty good, but yeah, I think it's just an okay book. Thanks for commenting!

  4. I don't know if I would like this one o not, but I am willing to give it a try. I haven't ever read a road trip novel, but they sound like something I would enjoy. The main thing about this one that interests me is that there is genuine character development, and that is something I miss a lot. It may be a maybe, But thank you for your review!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.