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I think for me, my expectations were set a tad too high. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis made me think I was going to ball my eyes out. I kind of wish those vibes came, but they didn't. It was more charming and witty and romantic... The emotional things just stirred the pot and brought everyone closer. It was a well wrote book with a unique premise. I look forward to watching this Author mature through storylines.
My prediction was this: that The Color Project would would feel like a Sarah Dessen novel, but with more heart.
Let me clarify what I mean by that, because I’ve said before (in my review of The Truth About Forever) that Sarah Dessen’s novels have more heart than your average mass-print YA contemporary. To some degree I still stand by that: Dessen is not afraid to touch on issues like chronic illness, the messiness of divorce, how a loved one’s actions can turn your life upside down, death of family members. Most of her characters deal with some serious topic such as these. But, in retrospect, I don’t feel that Dessen takes these issues home. Her books tickle the heartstrings like any Hallmark movie, but they’re too Hallmark-y (and similar, goodness gracious) to have a deeper, prolonged impact, though there’s certainly potential for such impact.
So when I say I was hoping TCP would be a Dessen novel with heart, I was hoping Sierra Abrams would address hard issues and have them hit home. I wanted intense and emotional and real. My prediction was that I’d get all three.
I’m pleased to say my prediction was correct.
I met Sierra sometime last year at a book signing, and I found out she was publishing a book through staying in contact with her on social media. So I know a little bit about this book’s journey and some of the inspiration behind the scenes. It’s hard to self-publish–mainly because you’re your own best publicist–and be successful. It’s even harder to self-publish your debut and get it right; a lot of “normally”-published books can’t even do that.
It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Here, Sierra proves it.
I’m amazed by the life of this book. It’s a vibrant, pulsing thing–full of giggles and wide smiles and some incredibly heartfelt moments. This book doesn’t just ask for your attention while reading–it demands it, because it’s that engaging and that intense.
I loved Bee. So much. I’m not necessarily in the same position she is, but I can relate to her so well, and her voice just exudes off the page. She, too, is awkward and self-conscious, but she’s intense and sensitive by nature, and big-hearted by design. She’s my kind of girl. The writing style reveals some of her little mannerisms, like how she talks to herself a lot–sometimes to encourage, sometimes to shame herself. (Who doesn’t talk to themselves from time to time?) She’s just such a real character, so full of love for life, and her personality was too passionate to be ignored. It was so cute to see how Bee reacted to meeting Levi and being around him, and how Levi reacted to her. I was constantly grinning.
Speaking of Levi: wrap him up–I’ll take two! This boy (or, as Bee calls him, “the Boy,”) is adorable. He’s chivalrous, he’s respectful, he’s sensitive, he’s generous, and he’s stubborn, but in the good way. You’d think he’d quickly become the Manic Pixie Dream Boy (and there were some moments where he read more like a character than an actual person), but Levi’s just as real as Bee, and just as intense in his own ways. Their chemistry together–both the way it was written and the way it played out–was spectcular and realistic, even the conflict. It got cheesy during a few moments, but eh, cute couples are inevitably cheesy. They’re still my #relationshipgoals. 😉
Now on to the darker parts of this novel: the family tragedy. Bee’s experience with her family is based off the author’s own experience (key word being “based”), and my heart ached for both the author and her characters as we went through the uncertainty and desperation tragedies like these always leave in their wake. I won’t spoil anything, but this part of the book hit hard, and, despite never having something like this happen to me, I could easily sympathize with Bee and her family. There were many touching, tear-jerking moments.
This book is real (goodness, I’ve used this word a ton in this review) and honest–in so many heartwarming ways. Expect it to leave you laughing, crying, and grinning ear-to-ear with from warm fuzzies. When asked to find the balance between cutesy romance and meaningful, heartfelt moments, this book passes with flying colors.
As soon as Sierra Abrams announced she was self-publishing her book, I added it to my TBR right away. I was so excited for The Color Project, and it did not disappoint!
Bee has just graduated high school and doesn’t know what she wants to do next. For now, she’s working a summer job at a florist shop and spending time with her family. When her car breaks down, she meets the new mechanic at the local shop, Levi, who wears brightly colored sweaters. Intrigued by this (and his pretty face), Bee finds out that Levi runs a charity called The Color Project. Bee proceeds to throw herself into this new organization, especially after she receives the news that her father has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
Family is the most important thing in Bee’s life. She’s close with her parents, older brother, and two younger sisters. It was so refreshing to see positive family relationships in a YA novel, something that I do not see too often. As someone who has close relationships with her parents and brother, I really appreciated seeing these positive relationships in Bee’s life play out.
If you’re a fan of slow-burn romances, you will love Bee and Levi’s story. They instantly connect when they meet, but they become friends first before pursuing any kind of romantic relationship. I loved that they took their time getting to know each other before jumping into a romance. It made their relationship and connection so much realer since they had a friendship, even though both of them were obviously attracted to the other. They took their relationship slowly and made sure to support the other, which is important. Levi was especially there for Bee and supported her during the hardest point in her life as she watched her father’s health fail.
The Color Project is actually a pretty long book for a YA contemporary, so I took my time reading it. However, just because I read it slowly, doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. In fact, I loved it! The first half of the novel is more light and fluffy as Bee and Levi get to know each other while the second half becomes more serious with Bee’s father’s diagnosis and deteriorating health. These two contrasting halves beautifully showcase life’s ups and downs, and even how there can still be little patches of happiness when life throws the worst at you. Like I said earlier, The Color Project is on the longer side. Even though I enjoyed the book, I do think it was a little too long and needed to be shortened.
Overall, The Color Project is a heartfelt debut novel full of family, friendship, and love—a must read for fans of Morgan Matson!
*This ARC was provided to me by the author in exchange for a honest review.*