Book Review: Changes in Latitudes
By: Jen Malone
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Cass has had a rough few months as she struggles to understand her parents' divorce and the implications it has on her future. How could her happy family have fallen apart? After overhearing a heated argument between her parents, she begins to lay blame for the dissolution of her family solely at the mother's feet. Rather than discussing what she overheard, Cass plunges forward into her hurt and anger, pushing her mother further and further away with every turn. Mother and daughter relationships can be complicated, but this one is more strained than usual.
Cass finally is forced to confront her emotions about everything when her father takes a teaching job in Hong Kong and her mother decides to take Cass and her younger brother, Drew, on a trip sailing from Coastal Oregon down to Mexico. Cass will be gone for at least four months which means she will miss summer road trips with her best friends, working at the ice cream shop, and beginning her Senior year with everyone else in the fall. Instead, Cass will be living on a sailboat in close proximity with her mother and brother dealing with online homeschool, the ruthless whims of the ocean, and no chance of escape. There is no such thing as alone time on a sailboat. Cass is furious that her mother made such a monumental decision without even consulting her children, but she has no choice but to tag along as their home in Oregon has been rented out to a visiting professor.
Cass reluctantly packs her bag, says her goodbyes, and hopes that her garden will be well tended in her absence. She boards the sailboat with a heavy heart and a bad attitude. Things don't get much better for Cass once things get underway. Her brother takes to sailing like a gull takes to the breeze, but Cass refuses to learn anything about her floating home. Rather than make the best of her situation, she chooses to wallow in her self pity and keep focusing on what she's leaving behind. She can't see what she might be moving towards. Even meeting the others in their small sailing convoy isn't truly enough to get Cass in the right frame of mind.
A deckhand with sticky fingers will change the course of Cass' summer and help her get some new perspective when one of the convoy members brings aboard Jonah as his first mate. Jonah is a handsome, intelligent college drop out who is running away from the expectations of his rich and powerful family. He decides sailing to Mexico with a family friend is a good first step in asserting his independence, but he never expects to meet someone like Cass along the way. The pair instantly hit it off, but Cass knows that due to Jonah's age and the expiration date on this trip, that getting romantically involved can only lead to heartbreak. She decides to pursue more plutonic avenues with Jonah, but will soon find that the heart wants what it wants.
After Jonah comes on the scene, Cass' mood improves significantly and she finally has a confidant for all of her emotions and concerns. Jonah helps her navigate the rocky current of her relationship with her mother and see solutions to bridge the chasm between them. I loved this pairing and was firmly in favor of Jonah from the moment he makes his appearance in the novel. Cass was always more bearable when he was around. I liked her and understood her frustration, but I did find her wallowing and whining to be a bit trying at times.
Aside from the serious relationship issues of both a romantic and familiar nature, I loved tagging along for a summer adventure and getting to take mental vacations to some exciting locales such as San Francisco, the town where The Lost Boys was filmed, and the town that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. I have never been to California, but I can only hope that if I do go someday that I will enjoy seeing everything as much as Cass and Jonah did. This was a fun summery read with depth, romance, and some beautiful moments on the sea.
One Last Gripe: Ultimately, Cass will make or break this novel for readers. I chose to forgive her whining, but I wanted her to confront her Mom about what she heard and clear the air.
Favorite Things About The Book: I loved the various settings and the relationship between Cass and Drew
First Sentence: There are things I fully expect to encounter in my driveway.
Favorite Character: Jonah
Least Favorite Character: I didn't truly have a least favorite, but there were moments when Cass was difficult to like.
A "road" trip romance that takes place at sea!
All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents' divorce. So when she learns of her mom's plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she's stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean.
Cassie is furious. And nervous. It's been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother's role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point. Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who's as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together--wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline--the harder it is to fight the attraction.
Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents' split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can't even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life's unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them... or dive right in.