"If you read closely, you’ll realize that there was someone before Juliet ever came into the picture. Someone who Romeo loved very much. Her name was Rosaline."
When You Were Mine sets the tone for the rest of the novel with its intriguing prologue, ripe with downcast foreshadowing. We go into this book knowing that Rosaline's going to be dumped by the love of her life, and spend the time afterwards dreading the inevitable breakup and whatever else may follow. This book tugged at my heartstrings and had me tearing up on many occasions. Serle does a fantastic job capturing that pure heartache and confusion that often surrounds breakups, so don't be surprised if you go into a slightly depressed state while reading! This is a very enjoyable read, despite the bashing it gives your emotions and state of mind.
I certainly didn't fall in love with the characters straight away. Rosaline Caplet is part of the beautiful, popular and privileged crowd and I wondered how I'd ever become invested in their lives, but soon enough, Rose's sweet romance with Rob Monteg begins and has everyone swooning every five seconds. The atmosphere is thick with her love for her best childhood friend, and every adorable scene between the two is bittersweet as Juliet's arrival looms very closely ahead. This was one of the first 'breakup' books I've read. Usually YA books are all about GETTING the boyfriend, not losing one to your cousin and getting your heart ripped out in the process! Juliet's gorgeous and manipulative (Satan reincarnated) but I really don't know who to blame for Rose's heartache. Juliet for stealing him away purposely or Rob for dropping Rose like a hot potato after seeing the perfect blonde? Ugh.
Amidst all of the sadness and anger are flashbacks that provide such gripping suspense. We learn that there's a feud between Rose and Juliet's parents that's lasted for years. Rose can still remember the day when Juliet's family became hostile very suddenly for no apparent reason. Through a series of well-placed flashbacks throughout the book, we slowly begin to unfold their backstory and I loved it! Juliet calls Rose's family "traitors" constantly and it's very satisfying when you finally discover what caused the rift. It's controversial and explains so much more about Juliet's behaviour, although I'm in no way, shape or form ready to forgive her! The ending of this book was very surprising. Out of all of the outcomes, I didn't expect that…but I probably should've. My brain and heart can't quite decide how I feel about it yet, but it's definitely one that'll keep you thinking! *rubs chest over heart*
But hey, it's not all doom and gloom. There's a boy named Len…and he's a bad boy prankster who has everyone convinced that he just doesn't care… Would you believe that he has a heart under there? One that's soft and fond of Rose? Oh my. He was, no doubt, the best character in When You Were Mine and you'll have no problem at all warming up to him! Especially when you discover that his feelings aren't exactly new… He tries his best to lighten the mood and constantly shows how kind he really is, despite how much he tries to hide it. Rob Schmob!! I do have to mention, though, that Rose has fantastic chemistry with both of her love interests. The romance certainly feels real so bravo to Serle!
I don't usually read books that I know are going to be sad, but I just couldn't resist seeing how this story would play out. Serle sticks needles into us and pulls out every emotion she can think of. She conjures up such deep sympathy, anguish and frustration that I felt like I was the one being dumped! I can't exactly describe this book but just in the way she writes and constructs the story, everything feels very genuine and heartfelt. The author set out to write something moving and she's definitely achieved that! This was a truly wonderful read about taking a chance and allowing yourself to fall in love again, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. Even if it doesn't sound like your cup of tea, give it a go and maybe you'll be surprised!
What did you think of this book? Was Len a good love interest? Who was worse - Rob or Juliet? Eek.