Book Review: 9 Days & 9 Nights

9 Days & 9 Nights (99 Days #2)
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Page Count: 272
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Contemporary
Review of Book #1: 99 Days

When readers last saw Molly Barlow she was looking toward a bright future in Boston. College, for many of us, is a chance to reinvent ourselves and start fresh. Many who venture to higher education often leave their childhood friends behind and embark on a journey without their parents hovering on the horizon. It's a time when the world begins to open up wider and adulthood is right around the corner. For Molly, this transition is her chance at a fresh start far away from the mistakes of her past.

Molly hasn't been home and she hasn't spoken to many people from her past since she started college, but she often thinks about Gabe in the back of her mind. Circumstances force Molly to reevaluate her life and she chooses to make a compete overhaul. Instead of being spontaneous and opinionated, Molly retreats within herself and just wants to go with the flow. She's done making waves and she wants to fly under the radar as much as possible. She also decides the only way to be truly happy in life is to be in complete control at all times, so she becomes addicted to lists and schedules. This shift in her personality becomes all too apparent when she and her new boyfriend, Ian, head to Europe for vacation.

The pair makes their first stop in London. While doing all of the normal touristy things, Molly is convinced that she sees Gabe, but shakes it off to delirium caused by extreme fatigue and jet lag. As they are heading to dinner reservations one evening, Ian convinces Molly to set aside her carefully constructed itinerary to focus on living in the moment. This choice lands them in a crowded pub with a live band. As they wait for a table, Molly bumps into someone standing nearby. She is horrified to find Gabe with his new girlfriend, Sadie, standing right next to her. Molly and Gabe don't admit that they were ever more than friends back home, so Ian instantly invites the other couple to join them for dinner, launching them into a shared vacation to Ireland and Paris.

Molly can't think of anything more horrible than spending the next few days of her trip with Gabe and his new girlfriend in tow, but to make a fuss about it would only draw attention to their history. Molly is convinced that if Ian knew about all the skeletons in her closet, their relationship would melt away like a sno-cone in July; she keeps her mouth shut but she can't seem to make her brain and heart follow suit.

As the foursome spends time in Ireland with Molly's best friend, Imogen, Molly begins to question all the secrets she has been keeping - not only from Ian, but also from Gabe. Imogen is the only other character involved in the main plot points that knows all the facts, but she is loyal to Molly and never utters a word to anyone else. As with the first novel, I love the friendship between Molly and Imogen. I wanted to be friends with Imogen after reading the first novel, but that has increased tenfold after knowing that I could crash in a cottage in Ireland. In many ways, Imogen is Molly's conscious. She serves as a sounding board and a voice of reason for Molly.

Throughout the course of the novel, Molly has to learn to love herself again and to stop being who others think she should be. She has to forgive herself for the past and move forward. She has certainly grown up from that fifteen year old she once was, but she launches even further into adulthood in this installment. As with the first novel, I also don't agree with all of Molly's choices in this novel. There were some paths she chose for her life that were difficult for me to understand.

In addition, I was happy to see a more positive relationship between Molly and her mom. These two had a lot of work to do repairing the rift between them, but they were supportive and loving this time around.

All and all, I loved this mental vacation to London, Ireland, and Paris. It had some bumps in the road, but I got to spend time with characters I remember fondly while meeting new ones. This is also a great read during the summer when you are craving a vacation, but are stuck in your normal life with the normal set of responsibilities. As Cotugno's website states, she writes "messy, complicated, feminist love stories." That is an apt description of 9 Days & 9 Nights.

P.S. - 9 Days & 9 Nights feels more new adult than young adult to me due to the age of the characters, so it might not be the best fit for younger YA readers.

One Last Gripe: There is one scene with Ian that totally changed how I viewed him. I felt let down and disappointed.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The European travel

First Sentence: Ian tells me he loves me for the first time in front of an enormous display of medieval torture devices, halfway through a tour of the Tower of London on the second morning of our trip.

Favorite Character: Imogen

Least Favorite Character: Sadie

Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago . . . after all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart. 

 Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said “I love you” to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a Tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie. 

 After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. Sadie, who’s dying to go there, jumps at the prospect. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others. 

 Now Molly has to spend nine days and nine nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new, improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?