How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski | Book Review

How My Summer Went Up In FlamesBook Title/Author: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
: Simon Pulse – May 7, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: None

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I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!


Rosie finds out that her boyfriend cheats on her and then he flaunts the girl in her face. The next thing she knows her ex’s car is on fire and she’s got a restraining order and, in trying to talk to him, is facing stalking charges. Her parents decide, to keep her from getting in any more trouble before the court date, to send her on a road trip across the country with their next door neighbor Matty, the sorta geeky boy next door, and his two friends. As the miles start to grow in between her and the situation at home she’s itching to get back and fix things and win him back — at all costs.

I’m really conflicted on this one. On one hand, especially as my gym read, How My Summer Went Up in Flames was precisely what it was supposed to be — a fun summer read with some entertaining and absolute LOL moments, some romance and a road trip! I read through it pretty quickly,  it was very enjoyable and I was always excited to pick it up — as excited as one could be excited  on a treadmill. But on the other hand, there was so much about it that irked me & pulled me out of it but it seems to probably just be a ME thing from all the rave reviews I’ve seen. All of my feelings are very all over the place… a lot of “I liked this BUT at the same time I didn’t.”

There were some really awesome parts of the road trip — some fun moments and also some self discovery moments where I wanted to hug Rosie. But on the other hand, this road trip was a lot like being stuck in the car with your annoying little sibling who keeps kicking the back of your seat — it makes it a little less enjoyable. Rosie was miserable for most of this road trip because she didn’t WANT to go and was all angsty about her ex boyfriend. That was hard for me to relate to because umm ROAD TRIP? The answer is enthusiastically ALWAYS. But whatever, I could go with it. But it was hard to actually ENJOY the road trip part of it because Rosie made 75% of it miserable because of her bad attitude. I’d be into the flow of their adventure and then she would pull me right out of it. LUCKILY, the boys and a sweet girl we meet along the way more than made up for it. They kept me reading during the moments when I thought I might push Rosie out of the car if I could. I seriously LOVED the boys. They were my favorites. I was really relieved in the moments when Rosie was ENJOYING the road trip and growing.

The romance! Ok, so there were some really swoony and cute parts. There were. The tension was written very well and I was so waiting for some kissing because of all the tension. But here’s the thing…throughout the book I felt like there was some MOMENTS where it felt like she liked or felt some maybe possibly confused feelings with each one of the guys in the car which I found weird considering everything that just went down with a breakup. I can’t explain it but there were parts where maybe they were goofing off and it seemed like there was tension with one guy or she’d be like “hmm he’s really kinda cute” and made me think, “OH is she going to go for him now?” There’s one kinda more OBVIOUS guy but there were just these weird moments I can’t explain without telling you. And then there’s a guy who comes into the picture and is suddenly smitten with her as well and the whole time I was confused as to WHY because there wasn’t much through the story where we saw any reason why she was so desirable or special.

Luckily there WERE parts where I felt like Rosie shined and I was like “Yeah,  I like this girl a lot — she’s feisty and can be fun and I GET her. ”  In those moments, I could see through the grumpy exterior and feel like I was getting to know who Rosie was and saw why people wanted to be friends with her — like how she talked on the phone to her dog or stood up for a friend. But, by the end, I still don’t think I quite got who she was or felt like I understood her though I feel like I was starting to.


Unfortunately, for me, How My Summer Went Up In Flames didn’t stand out. It had its moments and generally was entertaining and fun — the perfect type of summer read when you are craving something light that will take you no time to breeze through because it’s paced really well. I loved the secondary characters but there was a lot about the main character and her storyline that irked me and pulled me out of this romp across America. She had her moments where I was like,  “Girl, you rock!”  but never moved past that. It wasn’t that I DIDN’T like How My Summer Went Up In Flames but I just didn’t love it though I know SO many are going to not even notice the things that annoyed me. I did appreciate how realistic it was and that it wasn’t totally romance centric but it just never made me FEEL anything more than, “Ok, that was fun.” I will say that I will be picking up her next book Famous Last Words because I think she writes fun contemporaries.



Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Was I the only one who was drawn out of the story for these things?



ALSO I don’t listen to a ton of country music but this song and video are HILARIOUS and Miranda is awesome and it totally reminds me of this book in ways as it talks about the “crazy” some of catch during a break up. Even a reference to matches 😛

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. This definitely sounds like a fun and cute read, but I absolutely hate the sound of the MC. From what you say about Rosie and her whole attitude during the book it makes me kind of want to pass on this one, I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary so I’d rather save it for something I know I would enjoy. Thanks for the honest review!

  2. Since I’m not a big contemporary fan I usually wait to see what the stand out titles are before picking one up. This one doesn’t sound all that appealing to me and your review confirmed some of my fears about. Thanks for the honesty!

  3. I’ve seen it on a lot of “want to read it” lists but yours is the first review I’ve read. Not sure if I still want to read this but it’s sound like a borrow it and not a buy it book, either way 😉

  4. That video is awesome! I’m not s huge country fan either, but I do like Miranda. I have this one coming up on my reading list and I can’t wait to see what I think about it. Sounds like the main might be a little tough to swallow, but we shall see! Wonderful review!

  5. Yet another one of those books that I’ve been hearing about everywhere! I don’t know, the blurb itself kind of made me dislike the character from the get-go, and with you reciprocating that sentiment? I think I’ll pass on this one. Still, my sister might like it: she’s a nut for road trips. 🙂

  6. I shall move this on my list. As I tell you on twitter only ALL the time you reading a lot of ARCs before me help me move my list accordingly.

  7. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer) says:

    This cover practically SCREAMS summer and road trip! Two of my favorite things in the world! I can see this as a book I read during the summer just for a light and fluffy read, but I have to say that I’m a little disappointed to hear that the main character Rosie was a but irksome at times. It’s always hard when the main character is hard to root for at some points in the book. I’m glad you had fun with this book though! I think I’ll pick it up when I have time. Brilliant review as always, Jamie! 🙂

  8. This book sounded super cute when I first heard about it! I instantly wanted to read it when I heard the mere mention of a road trip (one of the phrases that will get me to pick up a book straight away). It still sounds pretty cute, although I’m on the fence right now about how I feel about Rosie based on your review. Still, sometimes I get in the mood for a quick, fun read and this sounds like one!

    (P.S. That video is AWESOME. I had to watch it the whole way through!)

  9. That’s too bad this one didn’t stand out for you! This is the second review I’ve read like this. 🙁 I’ll have to read it soon … it’s in my review queue. It DOES sound good, so maybe (hopefully) it’ll stand out more for me!

    Thanks for the review!

  10. Sad that this one wasn’t among your favorites, but I’m glad it was still good. I’m excited for it! And I LOVE that you included “Mama’s Broken Heart” with it. I am totally obsessed with that song right now. It’s so much fun! I just did an ASL performance of it for a class on Wednesday, LOL.

  11. Bummer about this one. I know that Lori / Pure Imagination really liked this so I think because of the 50 50 nature, I will probably take this out of the library at some point. Magan and I were discussing it earlier and we also felt “Before He Cheats” would be a nice anthem too? 🙂

    Back to the book though… always hard to figure out why some books resonate with us and others don’t. Especially disappointing when you were so looking forward to it! Thanks again for the honest review!

  12. Now I am conflicted about this one too. I wanted to read it but now I read a few reviews which all make me reconsider. I love a good swoon worthy romance and specially in such a book it’s sad that it’s more conufsing than swooning 🙂


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