Kerry Winfrey
July 05, 2013 9:00 am

One of the perks of being a book reviewer (or, as I prefer to call myself, book recommender) is that I sometimes get books for free. Awesome! What sort of weirdo wouldn’t want free books? Sometimes I even get books way before they come out, which means I can feel very important for a short period of time. But this also means that I have to wait to tell you guys about them…and that’s hard. Patience may be a virtue, but it sure isn’t one of mine. This week I heard a toddler say the phrase, “I hate waiting!” and even though I’m 27 and not 3, I was like, “Girl, I feel you.” I received Famous Last Words in the mail months ago and I’ve been dying to tell you guys about it since then. And since it just came out this week, the wait is finally over!

Famous Last Words follows Sam D’Angelo, a soon-to-be-senior who gets an internship at the local paper. She’s stuck writing obituaries, which sounds alternately awesome (what a great opportunity to learn about people’s lives!) and terrifying (the PRESSURE!). While Sam mostly loves her job, she has to balance it with her family and her BFF Shelby. Shelby doesn’t necessarily understand the whole “having a job” thing–she wants to spend her last high school summer partying with Sam. But Sam’s a girl after my own workaholic heart. She’d way rather stay late at work than get drunk at a party. Even though she deals with some intense and interesting coworkers, she loves writing for the paper.

Things at the paper get even more interesting when Sam uncovers a mystery involving the mayor. She enlists fellow intern AJ to go on some stakeouts with her. In the process, she gets to know AJ better…and I’m not going to give too much away, but I will say that these stakeouts lead to political AND romantic intrigue. I totally fell in love with AJ. I mean, he’s in college and he plays in a band. What’s not to like about an older guy who also happens to be musically talented? Obviously he rules. That’s not to say AJ is the only romantic interest in the book. Sam has to juggle her weird feelings for him with her attraction to Tony, a dreamboat reporter.

Overall, I loved Famous Last Words. It was smart and funny while still having some touching family moments. Obviously, I was most into the romance, which didn’t disappoint! Famous Last Words is totally swoony. If you like Lauren Morrill’s Meant to Be or Leila Howland’s Nantucket Blue, be sure to check it out!

SOME HIGHLIGHTS:

-I can’t help but love any book about a teenage writer. I wish I’d had the dedication and smarts to work at a newspaper when I was in high school, instead of just writing overly-dramatic, definitely pathetic entries in my journals. Although newspapers probably wouldn’t have let me quote The Smiths as much as I did, so maybe it’s an even trade. Either way, I loved reading about Sam’s work at the paper and the excitement of working on a story. The book also deals with the changing newspaper industry and the decline of print journalism, which (surprisingly enough) is not a topic that comes up a lot in YA lit.

-Sam has a great family. For starters, she and her mom have a tradition of watching John Hughes movies. Since Pretty in Pink is my favorite movie ever (seriously, if you don’t think this scene is the best scene in all of cinema then I don’t even want to know you), I appreciated this detail. Also, Sam has a sassy grandma, which everyone knows is the best kind of grandma.

-If you like Famous Last Words, be sure to check out Jennifer’s other book, How My Summer Went Up In Flames.

What about you guys? Have you read either of Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s books? What are your favorite books about teen writers? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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