Review: Outspoken by Lora Richardson
Release Date: 08/18/2015
I received an eCopy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Outspoken follows Penny Beck, a recent high school graduate who is looking to find her backbone and herself. She is sick of always saying yes to others when what she really means is no. Penny vows to change and become more outspoken (title drop...hehe), and the only way she sees that happening is if she packs up and leaves home--surrounding herself with people that don't know her, people that can become "practice friends" for the Penny 2.0.
I was glad to have been asked to review this book because the synopsis definitely created the image of a character that I could connect with. Much like Penny, I had to learn to reprogram myself. I had to tell myself that it's not my job to please everyone. It's okay to say no--but to be honest, I probably have the opposite issue now and need to learn to say yes more often (gahhh but I'm a homebody and don't want to go out this weekend...).
Anyways, I was surprised because even though I could identify with Penny's mission, I ultimately had trouble connecting to her--at least in the beginning. The trigger event for Penny involves her boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend). I just couldn't fully understand Penny's strong feelings toward the event because at one point, her thoughts made it seem like they were together for years, but in reality, they only went on five dates (if I read that correctly.) Why the hang up over a guy you only went out with five times? It just seems to me that Penny and Will's backstory needed to be a little stronger--there needed to be a little more of it--so that the big event could have a greater and more understandable impact on me.
But once Penny got to her new town and started interacting with her new friends, I grew to like her more. Maybe it had to do with the fact that new friends brought about dialogue, and I'm very much a dialogue driven reader. Or maybe I just enjoyed watching her become a more mature person. Immature high schoolers are THE WORST. Do you like Mike or Archer, Penny? No waffling! The brotherly connection to Mike wasn't as explicit as I would have liked it to be. But, I'm glad she got it together in the end. I also really liked the budding relationship between Penny and Archer, and because I love romance novels I was just like "Give me more of them! They're cute!!"
So, I was disappointed that two scenes with Penny and Archer stood out to me as being cut short. I was thinking: BUT WHAT HAPPENED??? What happened after Archer joined the party for the first time? I need to know this because Mike and Gwen seemed to have such an aversion to him. That first interaction between the whole group seems important! And when he showed up to the Puzzler when Gwen was singing? WHAT HAPPENED THEN? Again, I just wanted more of Archer and Penny--more of them and less of other things.
I say less of other things because there seemed to be TOO much going on for just one book. Too many serious issues that were glossed over or talked about too simply--Marissa and Mike's Mom, Irene, Penny's Grandpa, Archer's parents--it was just a lot. But I did like George Baker! I thought his role with Penny's grandpa was really sweet.
Ultimately, the first half is slow-going, but the second half kept me interested enough to make it to the end, which really, the revelations at the end help to make better sense of the first half of the book. I have to commend first-time author Lora Richardson for a solid debut! Writing a novel is no small task. Congrats, and I'll definitely keep an eye out for future publications!