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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook

Title: Year of Mistaken Discoveries
Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Pub. Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
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Once, Nora and Avery were best friends. Now, Avery can't remember the last time they've talked. As kids, they bonded over both being adopted, but, as they grew up, their paths diverged. Avery joined the ranks of popularity, becoming a cheerleader and focusing on the future, rather than her past. Nora did the opposite; she separated herself from her peers and never lost her drive to unravel her mysterious beginnings and track down her birth mother.

Avery is at a party when her path, once again, intersects with Nora's. After an immensely awkward breakup with her boyfriend, Avery is executing her escape from the party when, much to her surprise, Nora stops her. She tells her that she never gave up looking for her mother and that she thought she'd found her, until she discovered that it was really just a cruel stranger hoping to take advantage of Nora's weakness. Avery is distracted with her own problems and, brushing Nora off, thinks little about the conversation... until the next morning when her parents tell her that Nora has died from an overdose. Shocked by the news and feeling an immense sense of guilt for abandoning Nora - both in her time of need and as they grew up - Avery begins to reflect on her own life.

Teaming up with Nora's friend, Brody, Avery decides that, to honor Nora's memory (and, secretly, to achieve some of her own goals), she'll track down her own birth mother. But a journey that starts out to be more about others - and how other perceive her - soon takes on a more personal, internal meaning.

This is the third novel I've read by Eileen Cook and, while each has a very different premise, all have a very similar and distinct feel I've come to identify with this author. Cook is skilled at creating realistic characters and putting them in thought-provoking situations. In YEAR OF MISTAKEN DISCOVERIES, Avery, the central character, has concerns that make her easy for readers to identify with: a boyfriend that she doesn't love, but stays with out of convenience and comfort, regrets about the choices she's made as she nears adulthood, and concerns over getting into her dream school.

Adding to the realism, Avery is far from perfect. She pitches her search for her mother as a act done in Nora's honor, but, secretly, she has ulterior motives: it'd make a killer essay for her college applications. This may make Avery look pretty horrible, but, in the context of the novel, the reader empathizes with the pressure Avery feels after not being accepted early admission to her dream school. Though we might not like her actions, we understand them.

Though Avery has, in many ways, separated herself from her past and her adoption, her search for her mother reawakens much of the confusion and questions that have sat dormant as she lived her life. While I expected to sympathize with Avery's feelings, I was surprised by how much I empathized. Cook made it easy to imagine myself in a situation like Avery's... Even though Avery loves her (adoptive) parents, her past is still, in many ways, important. She wonders why her mother gave her up for adoption, if she thinks about her, what her biological grandparents were like... Though most readers may not directly identify with Avery's concerns, they will easily connect with the importance of family, both biological and otherwise, that she explores during her search.

YEAR OF MISTAKEN DISCOVERIES is another solid offering from Cook. Definitely recommended.


  1. I love when characters are relate able and not perfect! Great review :)

    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. Thanks for sharing this one! Eileen Cook is one of my favorite authors so will be for sure checking this out when it is released.

  3. Thanks, Missy! And I love characters like that too... Perfect characters always end up being annoying & unrealistic!

  4. Hi Deb! Stop back on Tuesday (release day!) for my interview with Eileen! :D

  5. This sounds interesting! I tried Unraveling Isobel by this author and it wasn't really a good fit for me, but I might give this one a try!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  6. Hi Jen! This one felt really different from Unraveling Isobel (no paranormal aspects for one!), so I hope you like it more if you give it a read. :)


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