Review: “This is What it Feels Like” by Rebecca Barrow

Title: This is What it Feels Like
Author: Rebecca Barrow
Publisher: HarperTeen/HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo


ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.


Three young women – former friends and bandmates – must put aside their differences to join a band showdown. Author Rebecca Barrow tells a story about forgiveness, rekindled friendships and of young women coming into their own in her sophomore offering, This is What it Feels Like.

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

This is What it Feels Like was one of the first books I got approved for on Edelweiss when I started requesting for review copies earlier this year. But since it was releasing in the last quarter of the year, I had to push it back my schedule to make way for the books that I got approved for that have earlier release dates.

And, well, it was so, so, so worth the long wait.

I cannot tell you enough how much I loved this book! I wanted to stretch time for it just so I could stay a while longer with the characters and their world. At the same time, I just couldn’t help myself from reading page after page because I want to know what happens next. It sounds illogical, I know, but this is exactly how I felt reading this book.

From the characters down to that more than satisfying resolution, This is What it Feels Like hits all the right notes. You have solid leads in Hanna, Dia and Jules. They are headstrong and determined young women, and all three bring something unique, influenced by their own struggles and personalities, to color the whole story. Secondary characters – Ciara, Hanna’s younger sister Molly, Dia’s whole family, Autumn and Jesse – also help the story move along. I especially love how the love interests, both Autumn (for Jules) and Jesse (for Dia) were written. They’re not just stand-ins, waiting for things to happen to them. They also have their own thing separate from their SOs and a reader could easily imagine what they’re doing even if they aren’t in the scene. It’s a testament to Barrow’s strong writing. She was able to create these compelling, complex and nuanced characters, develop them, make them connect with one another. I would give special mention to one relationship in particular that really stood out for me, Autumn’s and Jules’s. It was everything I could ever ask for an F/F romance. It was sweet and oh so good.

At its bare bones, however, This is What it Feels Like is a story about friendship and discovery. This is, and I’m quite aware I’ve been gushing from the opening line of this review, my most favorite part of the story. I love stories of friendship, especially healthy, supportive ones and this is what you’ll get in this book. This is another thing Rebecca Barrow got right – portraying young women coming into, being their own persons. I love the way she wrote Hanna, Dia and Jules’s friendship. It was beautiful reading how the three girls dealt with and made peace with the girls they were, and how they gave each other a chance to get to know the young women each of them has become.

As if there is any question, I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone, especially if you love YA contemporaries. This is What it Feels Like is a diverse, captivating read realistic and relatable at the same time. Trust me, this is one book you won’t want to miss this year! Now, let me go back to the bookstore and pick up Rebecca’s first book.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

About the Author:

rebecca-barrow-author-photo_origREBECCA BARROW writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read.

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