Changes in Latitudes – Jen Malone – HarperTeen – Published 25 July 2017
After concluding that her is to blame for her parents’ recent divorce, Cassandra McClure is hoping to stay as far away from her as possible. With a summer of freedom right around the corner, it shouldn’t be too hard. But when a forty-foot sailboat appears in her driveway and her mom announces that Cassie and her brother Drew will be accompanying her on a four-month sailing trip down to Mexico, Cassie’s plans for the summer go, quite literally, overboard.
Once the three set sail, tensions quickly rise. So meeting Jonah—a gorgeous, whip-smart deckhand—is an unexpected bright spot on an otherwise dim horizon. Though she tries to keep him at a distance—considering the upheaval of her home life—their chemistry is impossible to ignore, and Cassie soon finds herself questioning everything: Should she go for it with Jonah? Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? With life’s unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them, or dive right in.
Changes is Latitudes is a road trip novel set at sea. A story about big changes, facing the difficulties life throws up, family – whether it is broken or healing – and maybe even a chance at love.
Cassie’s life has been one curve ball after another recently. Like her parents’ divorce and her father moving to Hong Kong. But the sailboat that appears in her driveway might beat it all, especially when her mother explains that she, Cassie, and Cassie’s brother Drew will be skipping their summer plans and sailing the yacht down the coast to Mexico. Life on board is just as awful as Cassie expects – seasickness, tight quarters, separation from her friends and their summer plans, and no distance from her mother who Cassie blames for all the recent changes in her life. But there might also be a few unexpected benefits, like the cute guy who is sailing on another boat in their group. It’s a summer of big changes, but it might also be a summer of new discoveries and healing old hurts.
Who doesn’t love a road trip and this book takes that to the next level by setting the trip at sea along the West Coast of USA. Rugged weather, gorgeous animal encounters, and amazing scenery provide a fantastic backdrop for the story.
I think what I liked most about this book was the way in which the author makes Cassie likeable. Yes, she is very upset about everything that has happened to her. Yes, she is angry and takes that out on the people around her. Yes, she would rather be anywhere else but on that sailboat. And yet, she never comes across as whiney or ridiculous or boring, which is great. In fact, I really felt for Cassie and could definitely empathise with her situation. I also liked that Cassie readily acknowledges that having her parents divorce might not be the rarest form of upset in her life, it may not be as bad as the things other people might have to deal with, but it is still painful and upsetting. I think this is so important. Just because it might be a common occurrence doesn’t mean it hurts or that Cassie isn’t entitled to be upset.
I loved that Cassie is into plants. She wants to be a botanist and has a beautiful garden that she carefully tends. It made a great contrast to her life at sea, but I liked that it is a rare interest for YA characters.
This book is all about relationships. Cassie’s relationship with her mother is obviously a key one, as is her relationship with Jonah. But there are also other relationships explored, like the one she has with her brother as she learns to see him slightly differently than she has before. And, of course, her relationship or view of herself and her world, which undergoes a few big changes. The romance between Cassie and Jonah is well-paced, a perfect addition to the story, but it doesn’t steal the limelight.
Overall, Changes in Latitude is a fun contemporary novel that explores important themes in a very enjoyable way.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Parents, divorce, sailing, boats, family, family breakdown, relationships, romance, botany, traveling.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (7), sh** (26), bit** (2), assh*** (1).
Published: 25 July 2017 by HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, ebook. 384 pages.