Release Date: November 1, 2016
Did I enjoy this book? The best possible answer is… yes!
In the Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras, Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe is known for her academic achievements until her ex-boyfriend sends personal photos of her around the school and her family unravels. To combat her constant anxiety and panic attacks, the doctor recommends a stress-free summer. Viviana trades in her SAT prep books for a summer pool job where no one knows anything about her. While Viviana adjusts to her newfound freedom, she also discovers a shocking secret that could tear her family apart once and for all.
When I first read the description of The Best Possible Answer, it sounded like it had the makings of a classic Sarah Dessen novel. While the book ended up not being exactly what I expected, I still really enjoyed this book. Even though some aspects of the book felt a little stereotypical or undeveloped, it also packed an emotion punch and realistically portrayed family relationships.
First, I’ll start with the characters. I liked Viviana, but she definitely isn’t one of my favorite YA characters. Viviana reminded me of many other contemporary female protagonists, so she didn’t really come across as particularly unique. However, I appreciated the Viviana acted like a seventeen-year-old–she acted brashly and often made bad decisions–and her actions carried the plot along. Overall, she is a likable and relatable character even though she doesn’t stand out among female protagonists.
Like Viviana, I liked the secondary characters, but many of them didn’t really stand out or were very underdeveloped. I liked Viviana’s friendship with her best friend, but for the majority of the book it seemed like her best friend was only relevant to cause tension between Viviana and her love interest, Evan. Her sister, Mila, was the cute and sometimes comedic little sister. Professor Cox was the strange character who spouted off random bouts of wisdom. The remaining characters only served to point out that Evan loved Viviana.
Viviana’s relationship was also fairly standard for YA contemporaries. Viviana’s relationship with Evan was extremely underdeveloped and he embodied the stereotypical YA love interest. He was essentially perfect except for one “flaw,” which in this case was switching his major to music despite his father’s wishes. Even though it took awhile for them to get together, their relationship felt extremely rushed because they never actually got to know each other. Other characters constantly pointed out their connection, but I failed to see it through their few interactions.
For the plot, I mostly have positives, but only one negative. I assumed from the summary that the photo scandal would have a larger impact on the story. It did impact Viviana as a character–along with her father, it made her wary of forming new relationships–but in the end it only was used for last second drama to keep Viviana and Evan away from each other longer.
While these problems initially worried me that I would rate this as an okay read, the middle and end of the book really impressed me. One of the most well done parts of this book is Viviana’s relationship with her family and discovering the truth about her father. I especially appreciated Viviana’s relationship with her mother and how it grew towards the end of the book and how her relationship with her father deteriorated based on the choices that they made. The author very realistically portrayed family dynamics and how one person’s choices can lead to a lifetime of consequences.
I also really enjoyed the author’s writing style. It was very smooth to read and packed an emotional punch. I also appreciated the details before each chapter which included a fake SAT questions about Viviana’s life, an essay question that provided backstory, or a preparation tip that related to the next chapter.
Even though the characters didn’t stand out for me, I really enjoyed the family dynamics and writing style of The Best Possible Answer, so I give this book four out of five stars.
I recieved The Best Possible Answer from NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.
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