book review

Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

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***Received ARC from publisher via NetGalley***

This is the first time I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading an Elizabeth O’Roark book, and it’s got me adding more to my TBR list.

Waking Olivia, told with dual PoVs, is a story about a college student, Olivia Finnegan, on a Track scholarship. Transferring from a Division 1 college, she gives off a bad-ass vibe, as talk of her bashing a fellow athlete with a baseball bat spreads through her new school like wildfire. Despite her reputation and the strong reservations her new coach, Will Langstrom, had about her seemingly dismal track record, she is given one more shot. Over time, Will discovers that Olivia’s mediocre performance on the track has less to do with her attitude, and more to do with the demons that are keeping her up at night. What starts out as a genuine desire to help Olivia succeed turns into sparks that both Will and Olivia try so desperately to keep at bay, especially with a scholarship and a coaching job on the line.

The things I loved about this book:

1. It puts a less glamorous sport in the spotlight – Track and Field. And the superstar athlete is the main female character, as opposed to the usual hockey/football/baseball superstar. It sets a different tone, and makes for a refreshing setting.

2. No insta-love. It’s a slow and delicious burn. Tension you can taste and angst that settles deep in your gut, it hurts so good.

3. The characters were fleshed out so well that at each turn of event, at each decision made, it was believable. They felt real to me.

4. The chemistry is just off the charts. Will and Olivia were both treading that dangerous tightrope between love and hate, and all we can do is sit at the edge of our seats, waiting for them to fall into each other.

5. The nail-biting anticipation for finding out what really happened in Olivia’s past that has her sleep-running at night. Such an original idea for a plot.

I was originally going to give this book a 5-star rating, but there were a couple of things that threw me off, and if you don’t want any spoilers, you can stop reading here.

1. I’m not sure how Olivia’s father managed to trust that Olivia kept her memories locked up so deep in her mind all these years. And that, despite the cops sniffing around, the timing seemed a little too convenient that her father would show up at the right time to make sure Olivia never speaks a word of it to anyone. Makes for an edge-of-the-seat suspenseful scene, but I can’t get over how it just doesn’t add up.

2. Will had a girlfriend for at least 80% of the story. And while I understand that it was utilized either as a way to keep himself in check, or to reinforce the idea that Will was living a life that his father wanted for him, it just bugged me a bit how awful his girlfriend, Jessica, was made out to be, and yet, he continued to stick by her. I feel like his struggle and confusion would be a bit more justified had she just been an average girl, who just didn’t fit his world.

Despite those minor gripes, it was a solid and captivating read, which had me pretending I was sick, just so I could stay at home and under the covers throughout the weekend, savoring every word.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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