- Author: Sarah Dass
- Genre: YA Contemporary-Retelling
- Background-TRINIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII *Cues Airhorn* (Trinidadian, I had to be extra for my peoples)
- IG-@sarahdasswrites; Twitter-@SarahDassAuthor
- Release Date: 5/11/2021 (US), 6/10/2021 (UK)
- Publisher: HarperTeen (Imprint of HarperCollins)/EpicReads
- Favorite Character-I’m going to go with Fish! He was equal parts hysterical and annoying…he struck just the right balance and brought such levity to the story. My second favorite was Reyna’s best friend Olivia, she was really funny too…I imagine our methods of best-friending are similar, lol!
- Favorite Quote(s)–“Look at me.” He pointed to his face. “Tell me this shouldn’t be immortalized on canvas.”-Fish. When I tell you I hollered loudly, I think I could be heard from the floors above me! Normally, that level of narcissism would turn me off but Fish is a Spechul case…and I truly mean that Spechul.
I’m going to start this off by saying that this post will be pretty chill (for me). Why will it be chill, you ask? Because that’s just the type of energy I felt as I read Where The Rhythm Takes You and if you know any Trinis, its pretty much the energy you get until you involve either food, music, Carnaval (Carnival) or insults (at least in my experience as the daughter of one); the Trini accent alone incites a sense of comfort and calm! Go on and listen to a Trini speak for a few minutes and tell me where my lie is. Don’t worry though, you will get your gifs because gifs just come with the territory *wink* *wink*. Oh and since this is a book that takes place in Tobago, feel free to cue up Trini 2 De Bone too because it’s a forever bop, just ask Reyna & Aiden.
While I was searching for a favorite quote, I found myself pulled right back into the story which is so incredibly rare for me because I’m NOT a re-reader (there is a reason I use highlighter tabs). WTRTY is just one of those stories where you want to relive certain moments because they are so vivid and you can practically feel yourself there. Whether you are listening to banter between Olivia & Reyna or watching a scene unfold with a double (you gotta read to find out and google what they are if you don’t know, It’s T&T’s gift to the world), you just feel apart of the story… After spending almost an hour trying to pin down what my favorite quote was and getting lost in the story, I have come to the conclusion that this book should become a movie. Hollywood needs to make that happen and all the actors need to be Natives to T&T. While I would love to see Idris Elba play Reyna’s dad for eye-candy purposes, he’s not Native to T&T last time I checked (okay, maybe I would bend a little for him, lol). Tobago native Winston Duke would be perfect though so get him on the phone!
I have to acknowledge that I was lucky enough to receive an ARC in a huge box from HarperCollins and I’m so incredibly glad I did… Did I know about this book? You betcha I did especially as someone who is of Trinidadian Descent. Was I planning to read this book? AB-SA-FREAKING-LUTE-LY I was because that was not NOT going to happen! I would’ve read this book the moment I could get my hands on it after pub day but I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO glad that I didn’t have to wait the additional weeks for release. So Thanks be to the divine publishing beings for not making me wait. I can’t recall if I squealed on the IG live when I opened that box & saw it but it wouldn’t be far fetched since it’s kind of my brand…you can watch that live here and see for yourself.
I Loved this book so much that I pretty much flew through it. Not only was it the characters but it was the fact that it was set in the place of my Ancestors (well, one set of them). I could hear the accents, smell the food, see the sky, feel the breeze…something, outside of the accents & food, that I haven’t experienced since 1996 (Do NOT ask my age, just know that I’m grown, lol) and it was truly beautiful. It felt like a homecoming without physically being there. We don’t get too many books like that in this lifetime and I’m so glad to have WTRTY as one…I really couldn’t ask more of Sarah in that department (she was like a painter with word doc or a writing app instead of a paintbrush).
I have a confession to make…I didn’t know that this was a retelling…at least, I don’t recall reading that this was a retelling. All I knew is that it was set in Tobago and that was ALL I needed to know, periodt. Regardless, I was going to read it because of the obvious. The fact that it is set in current day Tobago honestly would’ve been the main thing I would’ve acknowledged anyway because how many YA books are set in Tobago? Don’t worry, I’ll wait………..*cues Jeopardy Song*……….. Exactly, not that many; certainly not in recent titles in US publishing. For those who are into the retelling aspect, it’s a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. If you haven’t read Persuasion, don’t worry (I haven’t either *shrug*), you don’t need to have to in order to appreciate this book, the story, the characters or the setting. It stands all on it’s own, which is the most important thing in my opinion.
When I met Olivia, I was like “yup…she is me and I am her” based upon how she interacts with Reyna. A friend who texts to hang out because they haven’t seen your face in such a long time they feel borderline abandoned, can either be really useful or useless when it comes to advice (and there is no in-between to be seen anywhere) and will gladly eat your snacks at the first chance they get (see my IG Reel where I snack several times as proof) feels pretty spot on to me! I also just realized that characters name Olivia seem to be my Spirit Characters (see my post about Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry for proof) and I’m honestly okay with this. Give me all the sarcastic, snarky & snacky Black Girl Best Friends and if their name so happens to be Olivia, then so be it! Olivia is a character you don’t ever mind being on the page, no matter the type of moment she is having with Reyna. She keeps it one-hunnit at all times and well, we all know how I feel about that (to say I loveeeeeeeee that characteristic is a severe understatement, if you are new to this blog, lol). Olivia is a character you would be a fool not to love (I may or may not judge you if you don’t love her after reading this book *shrug* *light chuckle*).
I need to talk at least a littleeeeeee about my fav, Fish! He’s a character you can’t help but love despite being deeply annoyed by. He’s the type of person that the moment you see them open their mouth, you can’t help but hold up a finger and say “please don’t say what you’re thinking” and they still do anyway & whether you roll your eyes, laugh or walk away is completely up to what they let rip from their lips. Usually, I would be turned off by someone like that but I couldn’t help but be enamored by Fish, much to the chagrin of his fellow travelers and Reyna (I’m sure). Sarah managed to make him annoyingly charming AND persistent (which is something I’m not a stranger to being), which if I wasn’t worried that he would set his sights on me, it would make me want to pinch his cheeks and feed him the appropriately spiced doubles for his novice level (if you know, you know). Fish just is that character that grabs your attention, by force really, but find that you actually want to be around no matter how much he makes your eyes roll because he’s tooth-achingly sweet. When did I become this person that falls for such a character?! What has HAPPENED TO ME?! (O_O)
One thing that I loved about the flashbacks is seeing Aiden through the lens of Reyna’s past and the present… It was like the glow up you thought could be possible but was really happy to know happened. It also was kind of like witnessing the birth of a heartthrob, indirectly, and who doesn’t want to see that?! I won’t lie, I likely would’ve fallen all over myself (internally, of course because I’m a G) the moment I saw him if I were Reyna or anyone really. Another thing that felt glaringly clear is that we were seeing a star starting to shine even brighter no matter what tried to dim it and the love felt by its witness. Aiden is hard not to take notice of, no matter how frustratingly aloof he could be. Not only is he painted as handsome to look at, but he also doesn’t disappoint in his commentary & banter along with hints of a hopeless romantic nature. He’s like that person that could get almost anyone to like him with very little effort and make onlookers swoon the moment he touches an instrument. Really, Who doesn’t love a musician?! *smirks* Honestly, I feel like you should read WTRTY in order to get what I’m saying about Aiden because you just have to experience his greatness for yourself *shrugs* *winks*.
Last but not least, I have to acknowledge Reyna because there were so many ways that I felt on her wavelength. One of the biggest things I felt her on is her grief, the way it would hit her strongly and how others didn’t seem to understand her at times. As someone who has been grieving for the past few months, both out loud and internally; this was the biggest point that I connected with her on. Grief is tough, it’s messy, it’s blinding and can be incredibly consuming… There is truly not one way to grieve & how Reyna grieved is not unlike how I do at times, which is by taking strolls down memory lane with the loved one she is mourning. While there are a lot of flashbacks & memories visited, the ones with her departed loved one had a very distinct tone & reverence and thus felt different from her memories with Aiden, which I don’t know about anyone else but it made me appreciate them more. Something else that I appreciated about Reyna is her inability to people despite growing up in/working at a hotel… When I tell y’all that she was me in the moments she didn’t feel like dealing with anyone…. I felt incredibly seen because, believe it or not, this is me….often. The beauty of Reyna is that she is such a relatable character and I’m so glad that Sarah decided to share her with us.
OK, so I went into almost full on rant mode but I just have to say one more thing before I close this up… How GORGEOUS is the cover?! The colors are stunning and capture the Spirit of T&T beautifully. Also, Reyna’s skin color is the beautiful shade that so many Trini’s I know have…it’s a shade that I inherited from my mother, who inherited it from her mother (who is now departed) and so many that have proceeded us. Reyna’s skin and hair was what truly drew my eyes because I could SEE myself in Reyna, in the way her hair waves and the kiss the T&T sun has left on her for all to know where she descends from. It made me appreciate the book even more and served as yet another reminder as to why representation matters. It doesn’t matter how old the reader is, the fact that someone could truly see themselves on a book cover and in its pages means more than can be expressed and is another level of healing, in and of itself. This should be the standard. I will forever be grateful to Sarah and the cover design team for making that remotely possible, seriously.
Now that I’ve gotten all of that out of my system (more than what I thought I would type but not as much as I really could say), I really want some doubles but at the hour I am typing this, it is not possible but hopefully will be by time I edit this (LOL; update: nope, I haven’t gotten any but it will happen). If you haven’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Where The Rhythm Takes You AND doubles (with some tamarind & pumpkin but no peppa for me)! Pro tip: All Doubles are not created equal, ask your favorite Trini if I’m lying and consult them before buying from just anywhere (thank me later).
Well, my peoples, I will end things here but iffffffff you wanna keep this bookish banter going, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. As always, I’m sending you bookish love and wishing you happy reading!