Never Vacation with Your Ex

­Viking. Apr. 2023. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593326909.
Gr 8 Up–There’s only one thing threatening to ruin Kaylee’s beach vacation in Malibu: her ex-boyfriend, Dean. Chronic perfectionist and volleyball superstar Kaylee is looking forward to the three-week trip her family takes every summer because it’s the only time each year that she lets herself relax. In the pictures she posts to her almost half-million followers on Instagram, Kaylee with her dark blonde hair, tan skin, and muscular build appears to live a perfect life. In reality, Kaylee puts so much pressure on herself to live up to everyone’s expectations that she suffers from debilitating migraines due to the stress. Her mother is an Olympic Gold Medalist in beach volleyball, and Kaylee can’t escape comparison. She also can’t escape Dean, whose parents are college friends of her parents and a fixture of their annual Malibu vacation. Taiwanese American Dean, with his long dark hair in a bun and his hipster style, has loved Kaylee since childhood, but is struggling to digest their recent breakup. What follows is a steamy, banter-filled attempt at getting over an ex while falling in love again. High school sweethearts themselves, Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka craft a second-chance romance with plenty of forced proximity set on the dreamy beaches of Southern California. Kaylee and Dean’s dialogue radiates with sexual tension and their heat is balanced with a thoughtful exploration of friendships, perfectionism, and passions versus professions. Secondary characters are fully developed, and the summer beach setting is lushly described.
VERDICT Highly recommended. Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen’s summer romances will devour this book.

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