Title: Twelve Steps
Author: Veronica Bartles
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina's perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she'd hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.
As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.
TWELVE STEPS brings us the story of Andi, a girl who feels eclipsed by her older sister, Laina. Everything she does and who she is is compared to Laina - her grades, her actions, etc. The interesting thing is that as the truth of Laina's imperfections come to light, Andi learns that her sister feels like she's in Andi's shadow. So both sisters feel like they are being overshadowed and are trying to find a way to shine.
What I really liked was that, even though they both feel like they need to prove themselves in someway to step out of their respective shadows, they both still love each other very much. Sometimes when one sibling feels like they aren't being treated fairly or the same as the other, they feel resentment and hatred for their sibling. That's not the case in TWELVE STEPS. Both Andi and Laina love and support each other, despite feeling like they aren't seen as equals. Andi, in particular, is very protective if Laina, and I thought that it was really cute and sweet that the younger sibling wanted to protect her sister.
There is also a sort of rivalry (mostly on Andi's part) over the guys they both like. I'll talk more about that in the Romance section of this review.
But I was really happy that TWELVE STEPS ended the way I was hoping that it would!
Andi: She feels like she is never treated with the same treatment as her older sister, Alaina. She always feels like the little sister of Alaina. Everything she does is compared to what Alaina has done before her, instead of being given her earned praises. What she doesn't realize is that even though Alaina may seem like she is perfect - grades, looks, and her male admirers, Andi is right up there with her. She had good grades (except in Biology), she's a beautiful girl, and she has her own fair share of male admirers. Andi is so focused on being blinded by her sisters light that she doesn't see her own.
Laina: And the same could be said for Alaina. She can't see her own light because she is hiding behind her sister's. Alaina had a bad experience with a guy who attacked her and she has a "best friend" who is always tearing down her self esteem, so she doesn't realize (or refuses to acknowledge) that there are a number of other guys who like her and that her best friend is just using her. Alaina is kind of, as Andi's friends say, "Snow White" like. She has this innocent aloofness that prevents her from seeing how her very best friend, Jarod really feels about her.
Jarod: He and Alaina are practically inseparable. They are the very best of friends. When is comes to Alaina, Jarod only has eyes for her and is very protective of her. Especially after he saved her from being attacked further by a male classmate. The only problem is that Alaina is totally unaware of how he really feels about her. So he recruits Andi's help to get Alaina to realize and believe his feeling for her.
Shane: Unfortunately for Jarod, Shane also has feeling for Alaina and also asks Andi's help in telling her. And although Andi is friends with Jarod, she likes him, so she helps Shane in an effort to make Jarod hers. But Shane screws up every chance that Andi makes for him to tell Alaina how he feels.
Dave: On the other hand, Dave has feeling for Andi. As she is trying to get Jarod to choose her, Dave is becoming her best friend, and they form a relationship that is exactly like Alaina and Jarod's. But the difference with Dave is that he sees behind the mask that Andi wears and sees who she really is.
Okay, so this is where is gets interesting. The romance is TWELVE STEPS is not a triangle, but this whole tangled mess, which makes for some really fun and entertaining moments. Which is why I would say this is more of a romantic comedy.
Here's how the tangle goes: Dave likes Andi but Andi likes Jarod, and Jarod like Alaina, and she likes Shane. Both Shane and Jarod ask Andi for her help in confessing their feelings to Alaina. She helps Shane because she sees it as her chance to make Jarod hers, which shouldn't be hard because Alaina already has a crush on Shane. While helping him, Andi and Jarod become closer, and she feels like he's finally seeing her as more than Alaina's little sister. But Jarod is still hung up on Alaina, and while Andi is being jerked back and forth between Jarod's conflicting feelings, Dave is able to make his move. It can go on and on from there.
Now the comparison between Alaina and Jarod's friendship and Andi and Dave's is that it becomes exactly the same, but opposite. Jarod likes Alaina and only has eyes for her, while she is completely clueless to all of this. Whereas Dave likes Andi, but she refuses to acknowledge his feelings, because she only has eyes for Jarod.. Unlike Alaina who is clueless to Jarod's feelings, Andi knows how Dave feels about her, but she feels that their relationship works better if they're friends. So this is an interesting parallel that happens in the relationships in TWELVE STEPS.
So as you can imagine, all of these comedic romance moments leave you guessing as to who will end up with who. What I will say is that both Alaina and Andi ended up with the guys that I was hoping they would. So I was very happy with how this book ended.
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