In Laguna Beach, California, sixteen-year-old Kendra Dimes is preparing for the 2010 USA Surfing Prime West. She’ll be competing this year in honor of her brother, who was a surfer too, but who died from a drug overdose. Kendra has suffered anxiety attacks ever since her brother’s death, and surfing is what’s been helping her heal.
Brock Parker is the new bad boy at school; he deals drugs to the high school clientele for his parents, who work for a Mexican drug lord. Though Brock and Kendra come from two different worlds, sparks fly when they meet at the homecoming dance—their attraction is magnetic. When they start a game of 21 Questions one night, they begin to learn more about each other—and, surprisingly, about themselves too. But some questions aren’t answered with the whole truth; after all, Brock can’t tell Kendra what his parents do for a living.
As Kendra and Brock experience all of life’s most exciting firsts, they prove that even when life throws you the perfect storm, you can make it through and come out stronger than before. 21 Questions is a coming-of-age journey packed with passion and heartbreak, risk and romance.
I was not expecting this one to hit me in the feels the way it did, but it did. Don’t let the summery beach cover fool you, this is a book containing some very real and heavy issues, mostly in the realm of drug use and selling. While the romance between Kendra and Brock is very much at the forefront, it is not the only focus. We get to see both of their points of view, which I felt really added to the story and all the different aspects of subjects that were included. Being someone who actually lost their older brother to drugs Kendra’s story hit especially hard – including her coping mechanisms, internal dialogue and specific memories of her brother. So much of the events and actions of people based on past experiences (especially Kendra’s) were so spot on in those situations.
Rizik’s writing flowed really well in both viewpoints and I really enjoyed the characters she crafted. There were a couple characters that I didn’t enjoy, but even they had some redeeming factors (and all teenagers can have moments of cringiness…so realistic). There were also characters who I really felt for and wanted to know more about, which is a sure sign that they are well crafted. Keep in mind that there are definite trigger warnings for death of a loved one, drug use, drug dealing, grief and more.
Alexandria Rizik is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of two books, the poetry collection Words Written in the Dark and the children’s book Chocolate Milk. She was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she was brought up by a large Armenian family. She received her bachelor of arts in English literature from Arizona State University. Alexandria’s love for writing began when she was a young child: her aunt bought her a journal and told her to write her a story, and the rest is history. Her favorite part about writing is being able to write the happily ever after that doesn’t always happen in real life. Besides writing, Alexandria loves yoga, wine, and family time. She lives in Scottsdale, AZ. Learn more at https://www.alexandriarizik.com.
A huge thank you to SparkPress for sending me a copy of this book so I could review it! Come back on release day (8/3) for a Q&A that I was able to have with Alexandria!