Anything to Have You - Paige Harbison
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

SUMMARY

Natalie and Brooke’s friendship is put to the test when they and those they love keep secrets from each other.

 

WORLDBUILDING

For the most part I bought the contemporary setting of Anything to Have You. The dialogue was almost hyperreal and the depiction of the landscape changing throughout the seasons made me yearn for snow. The depiction of teen behaviour seemed over the top to me, but I know that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and I always have such a hard time believing that American teens get such easy access to alcohol and don’t really suffer many consequences. That being said, I don’t believe this story was a ‘typical teen’ story that it meant to represent every teen in America – I believe the teens represented here are of privilege and wealth and this is their own special story and should not be taken to represent all American teens.

 

CHARACTERS + RELATIONSHIPS

Natalie and Brooke were horrible to each other, but not in an obvious way and not in a way that made me dislike the book. Similar to Wuthering Heights, where the two main characters treat each other and the other characters horribly but I still enjoy reading the book, I found myself invested in this story despite not really liking either character.

Natalie was bland. She was a typical glasses-wearing brunette good girl who didn’t socialise yet somehow got nominated for Prom Queen. Her relationship with Aiden was sweet and I liked seeing her tear herself apart over crushing on her best friend’s boyfriend. I found their connection to be very realistic.

Brooke was a typical bad girl, flirting with everyone despite having a boyfriend she thought she didn’t want to lose, cheating and then getting angry when she was cheated on. But somehow I found myself sympathetic with both Natalie and Brooke, even though Brooke treated Aiden like rubbish and I really disliked her far more than Natalie. She actually reminded me of my high school best friend, a girl desperate to be lusted after by all the boys and admired by all the girls – unfortunately, my high school bestie sucked at both of those things because she had an awful personality.

As for Aiden, well, it’s hard to hate someone written to be so obviously well liked, but he is an asshole of all kinds and really I should hate him far more than I do. He did the most horrible ,despicable thing to both Natalie and Brooke, and yet all I’m thinking is how nice his final situation is.

 

WHAT WORKED/DIDN’T WORK

I just don’t buy that a girl who makes a point of never going out and socialising could be nominated Prom Queen. I’m not American, so I can’t be sure, but isn’t it a popularity contest? How can you be popular when no one knows your name?

I also don’t buy that Natalie and Aiden’s end of year project was ‘omg so totally cool like the most awesomest thing ever.’ I don’t understand how they could get other students to donate their sentimental keepsakes so some giant wall, let alone pay to put their shitty crap on it and then think it’s so awesome they want to take photos of it. It just seems like a really lame, stupid idea and I was totally surprised when both Aiden and the teacher fully supported it as original and awesome.

On the other hand, I do totally buy that Natalie would fall pregnant, especially as her own mother was a pregnant teen. I’ve read that it seems to be a cycle that teen mothers and daughters find themselves in and I totally think it’s acceptable to write that.

I also buy that the teens are absolutely terrible at communicating with each other, and that’s really what drives the plot. People keeping secrets or not confessing true feelings, which is exactly what immature, undeveloped teens do.

I’m still trying to work out the relevance of the title. While at first I thought it implied that Natalie would do anything to have Aiden, that wasn’t the case, because she didn’t plan or scheme to ‘steal’ him away from Brooke, she was just herself. Possibly it could mean that Brooke would do anything to have Aiden, but by the way she treated him and other boys, it is no longer relevant. I thought maybe it could refer to Natalie’s relationship with Brooke, considering all they go through they still remain friends, but then again they are pretty horrible to each other, whether they mean to be or not. I mean, in high school, my best friend went after the guy I’d been crushing on for ages and it ended our friendship. I’m still surprised Natalie and Brooke could work through everything in the end.

(It doesn’t help that when I tried to make up with my high school bestie years later, and ask her why she hurt me so much, and she confessed that she’d been ‘a selfish bitch’, I saw that she’s written in her online diary after meeting me for coffee that it was ‘so nice to see losers from high school all fat and lonely.’)

 

OVERALL

I don’t think it is necessary to like a (or any) character to enjoy the story. I think if a reader is looking for a slightly heavier contemporary novel that explores infidelity, alcohol and drug abuse, while still being a story about the drama and angst teens go through, then this will be the novel for you.