Title // No Place Like Here
Author // Christina June
Publisher // Blink
Publication Date // May 21, 2019
Synopsis // Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
This book was super cute and gave me all the best summer vibes, for dreaming of a time when (if) we’re finally let out of quarantine (maybe summer 2023?) and maybe (if we’re lucky) we’ll see the sun again. The setting of the book is at a wilderness retreat, basically a summer camp type setting, including zip lining, going to the swimming pool, and bonfires. It was so fun to read about, especially seeing the teens who are working there for the summer interacting with each other in this great setting.
There were some really great family themes I loved. The premise of the book is that Ashlyn goes to work with her cousin, Hannah, who she doesn’t know. Over the course of the book, I loved seeing them go from slightly hostile and judgy towards each other, to really bonding as cousins! They team up and work together well, and have fun together, and wow I wish I had a cousin like Hannah to work at a summer retreat with haha seems like the best summer ever.
I also loved seeing the relationship Ashlyn had with her aunt and uncle who she didn’t really know before. And most important was the relationship Ashlyn had with her parents, which was definitely dysfunctional to say the least at the beginning, with her being afraid of her dad who was going to prison, and worried for her mom, who was going to rehab. Over the course of the book I loved seeing Ashlyn figure out her family, and the ending was so satisfying!
At first the relationships in this book had me wary… but I shouldn’t have worried because they developed well and I was really satisfied by the end of the book! There are some super cute and swoon moments, but more importantly, Ashlyn learns what she wants in a relationship, that they’re more important when they’re deeper and more meaningful than just surface level attraction, and that she doesn’t even need a relationship in order to be happy as herself!
Ashlyn really grows as a character too, just on her own. She learns to stand up to her family, her relationships, her friends, and the people she works with. She becomes so much braver over the course of the book and I was so proud of her at the end!
Apparently this book is based off Hansel and Gretel and I saw that on the synopsis so I wanted to read this book then not gonna lie, I totally forgot about that until a few minutes ago when I looked at the synopsis as I started writing this review. I was hopeful that it would be a retelling since I love retellings so much, but it really wasn’t, and I didn’t even realize it as I read the book. Looking back now, I can see a few nods to that story, but really this stands as its own wonderful story, not a retelling, with just a few Easter eggs. Not bad, just fyi.
Overall, this book was super fun and had some great messages too! It’s not going on my all time favorites list, and didn’t super move me, but it’s a fun book to read in an afternoon!
Do you like summer books? Have you read any retellings of Hansel and Gretel before? Have you read this book/are you interested in reading this book? I’d love to chat in the comments below!