Dear Cassie

Dear Cassie - Lisa Burstein Oh Cassie, Cassie, Cassie. I was taken by surprise. I wasn't expecting to feel so much. I wasn't expecting to be so completely pulled into this story. Goodness. I read it so quickly that I didn't even stop to take notes. But I'm not going to worry about that right now, I'm just going to try to write my feelings the best I can and hope some of you will decide to pick up this book and give it the chance.In Dear Cassie we meet (or see again, if you've read Pretty Amy, though you don't need to have) Cassie, a high-school student who has just been sent away to a month-long rehab program. But the program isn't held in a hospital with therapists like she thought, it's a wilderness camp where the 'guests' are required to work and improve the camp and write in their daily journal. Cassie is not at all happy about being sent away and maintains an attitude of 'f*ck everyone' through most of the book. Plenty of things happen at camp and she meets some interesting people along the way, but it's really Cassie's personal struggles that take center stage in the book. The events of her past make their way into the story through her journal and remind us that her attitude is just her way of protecting herself from past and future pain. But she must find a way to move forward and let people in again or she runs the risk of letting important people slip right out of her life.As I said, it's not the events of this story that are the most important, it's Cassie's struggles that pull you in. Throughout the book I wanted to both hug her and slap her. I wanted to hug her for everything that she's been through and everything that happened to her. I wanted to let her know that everything was going to be ok. That she could move on and be happy again, someday. And I wanted to slap her for her horrible mouth. She constantly used her words to push people away and I wanted to shake her and remind her to let people in. That not all people are bad. That no matter what had happened to her in her past, she was still worthy of love and friendship. She still deserved a second chance. And in the end (Spoiler!), she does let herself move forward. And that is the kind of growth I like seeing, characters who are finally willing to face whatever it is that they are most afraid of. It was very moving.One thing that did fall a bit short for me, though, was the ending. I got so wrapped up in Cassie and her story that it felt like the end came all too quickly. It didn't quite feel like it meshed with the rest of the book. It was still good and (Spoiler!) happy, but it just felt a bit rushed and not as realistic as the rest of the book.Final Thoughts: I was really taken by surprise with this book. I had read The Next Forever but this one was much more emotional and raw. I haven't read Pretty Amy, though it's definitely on my list! So don't think you need to read these books in any order, because they all work very well on their own. Also, you should be warned that there is a lot of bad language in this book. If that offends you, you should stay away. Otherwise, I thought Dear Cassie was a very well-written emotional story full of interesting characters (Troyer was my favorite) that showed the importance of second chances and forgiving ourselves. Bad things happen to everyone, but it's what we learn from our pasts and the choices we make afterwards that matter the most. I gave Dear Cassie four stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes YA contemporary fiction.*I received an eARC of Dear Cassie from the publisher.