Book Reviews, Contemporary YA, Diverse Reads, Mental Health, Mystery Element

An Athlete, A Tattooed Artist, & A WWII Vet // Going Places Review

Kathryn Berla impressed me with the first book I read by her, Dream Me, so when I saw her next book I was ready and willing to read it too! And I wasn’t disappointed! Sick of Romance Centered YA! You Need Hudson, Going Places…

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35747110Going Places

by Kathryn Berla
Published March 20th 2018
by Amberjack Publishing

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Hudson is a senior now who is on the cusp of taking that plunge into adulthood and much is expected from him. Without a father since he was 10, this is the year he learns what it means to be a man… Focusing on his two lazy businesses so that his mom will agree he can home school, he meets an athletic girl who teaches him the manly art, he falls in love with all the painful accessories and solves the mysterious plight of the WWII vet who challenges him to grow up.

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Contemporary! Male Protagonist! Friendship! Diversity! Elderly Character! First Love! Sex! Mystery! Mental Health! Coming of Age! Slice of Life! 

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First Impression rating graphicI really took to Hudson from page one! I really enjoy the rare male narrator and he was an outside the box thinker which I LOVE… There was this great combination of details that really made him come alive for me… The home schooling with 2 classes in the morning, the yoga class to meet girls, the guy he’s gone to school with his entire life whom he accepts but finds truly annoying… Then there are the dogs he walks and their oddball owners! And the deal he makes with his mom so he can focus on his art… Berla is super good at delivering the details to make characters feel like real people!

This is certainly a slice of life story centered on Hudson and his senior year… perfect for those who love contemporaries. The plot is tight and oh so natural… The theme of first love is so relatable! I loved it with all its imperfections. For those seeking the more accurate sex in HS, this has that and it was realistic without being too sappy or too negative either. Really though where the story shined was with the mystery surrounding Mr. Pirkle, one of his elderly clients! This really proved to me that while Hudson is your average teenage boy he REALLY was going places… and so are ALL the teenage readers who read this book!

Cover Design rating graphic DI really dislike this cover!! When I first looked at this book there was this gorgeous white cover with photography of a green path and modern typography. I was quite disappointed when that cover disappeared and the ARC cover popped up as if it were the real cover… The ARC cover has really nasty colors and the font is a grunge that has little to do with the story! GAH!!!! Covers sell books people…

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Why did I LOVE this book so much?

Watercolor splot 1 Alana Love!

Okay this may sound odd but, I’m not a fan of Alana Love (I know, I know these are reasons I LOVE the book…) The truth is I don’t think you’re supposed to be. She is a spot on, flawed portrayal of what first love looks like… The one in love is NOT seeing the person as they really are, its really verging on a crush but they get to hang out with THE one… and yet THE one isn’t nearly as good as they are perceived… Truth be told though I can totally see why Hudson hung on so long. When you’re first in the thrall you hope beyond hope that the first time will be more magical than perhaps reality allows… But that’s okay because you have…

Watercolor splot 1 Fritzy!!

Yes, two exclamation points and she deserves both of them. I just loved this girl from her first description. I loved how she ALWAYS told it how it was… how she persuaded Hudson to do “boy” things with her (which is athletics and what she excelled in). She wasn’t classically beautifully or indie gorgeous (like Alana) but she wasn’t sitting at home at night either! This is such a great portrayal of the other kind of girl there is out there. Fritzy was hands down my favorite character!! She’s what a real friend IS and should be… and I super hope what it hinted at in the end is in her future!

Watercolor splot 1 Mr. Pirkle!

I LOVE the inclusion of older people in YA stories… there is so much for both sides to learn from the other… and here it works so well. Pirkle is in need of some help BUT doesn’t know it and Hudson is the teenager with the chupzah to bring him to reality. Honestly the only problem I had with this book is I could have done with a ton more Mr. Pirkle! I loved him almost as much as Fritzy… Really he was perfectly balanced in the story I just wanted even MORE… I don’t want to ruin his part of the story so no more details, but YES! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE…

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My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple Logo

Writing stars rating graphic

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building

Kathryn Berla is a STAR at writing characters and making me root for them and believe them… I TOTALLY admire her writing skills and have enjoyed both books I’ve read of hers. She really is an author to read if you want to understand about how DETAILS develop a world…

When we think of world building we think FANTASY! But contemporary and slice of life stories are also set in a world… Yes, its a world very close to reality but we still have to understand how that world is specific to the characters inside it… and that is where details come in! Get those balanced correctly like Berla does and those characters can take us anywhere…

Going Places is a great male narrated contemporary about finding yourself at a time when you aren’t certain if you’re going to just be ordinary or not… Like Hudson we learn that it’s all about the effort we put in, and sometimes it just doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still going extraordinary places!

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Do you enjoy male protagonists? Or are they hard to relate to?!

I can and did with this one… I loved how flawed he was and yet he went about life with a plan (even if sometimes it was lame) he tried his best. One of Hudson’s best qualities was learning to recognize a true friend when he found one (FRITZY, of course!) BTW do YOU like that cover? Would you buy the book based on it?!

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Thanks for Reading XOXO




Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.



5 thoughts on “An Athlete, A Tattooed Artist, & A WWII Vet // Going Places Review”

  1. Great review! This sounds like a great read! I don’t read books with male protagonists much because yeah, it’s hard for me to connect with them but I did enjoyed some books like What You Left Behind By Jessica Verdi. It’s a heart touching read about a single teen father.

  2. OH that was such a lovely review, Dani, and we do see so rarely male protagonists in YA books? I can’t remember the last time I read a male main character?? That’s weird, haha. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book, it sounds really like my kind of story, maybe I’ll have to give it a try 🙂 x

    1. I know right?! Male main characters are hard to come by… and then I read reviews of books with male MCs and some readers HATE them but forget men/boys are different from women. I hope if you have the desire you give this one a try I was really blown away ❤

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