When Undecided was reviewed at Dear Author, it was an immediate one-click for me. Kaetrin’s review was fantastic (I highly recommend reading it!). I’m so glad I decided to purchase the book myself.
This is a new adult book that screams college reality to me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love MANY of the new adult books I’ve read in the past year or so but Undecided just felt incredibly true to life for me. Nora’s struggles with money, with her academic success, with friends, and yes, with men, stands out as a hallmark of what makes a college experience for many young women. Oh yeah, and there is also talk of STI’s which is a hard subject to cover, but Julianna Keyes covers it so well. Nora is now a sophomore and during her first year of college, she went a bit wild. She wanted to shed her high school image of being boring and she definitely did that. But now she has regrets and is determined to get her future back on track, even if it means becoming “boring” again.
It’s summer now and Nora has to move out of the dorms. She needs a place to live immediately and answers an ad online. Unfortunately, when she goes to meet “Matthew”, she instead meets Kellan, one of the most popular guys on campus, who has a new lady in bed with him all the time. He’s also slept with Nora but does not remember it at all, which hurts Nora. It appears she is not as memorable as she had hoped to be her freshmen year. She also meets Kellan’s best friend, Crosbie. He is also a “man-whore” according to rumors around campus. She is attracted to him but has no plans to act on it.
Except, Crosbie is around ALL THE TIME as Kellan’s best friend. And the attraction is definitely mutual. But there’s that pesky secret that Kellan and Nora slept together. And even though it means nothing to Nora, she knows it would hurt Crosbie immensely.
This book totally pulled at my heartstrings. I loved Nora as a character. She reminded me of myself at times so I had empathy with how she struggled with correcting her past mistakes. Though Nora definitely burdened herself with her past, I thought it proved to be a good learning experience overall. No one gets through college without making some mistakes, Nora just happened to do a few huge ones in one year. Jeopardizing her scholarship was a big turning point for her, as it would be for any college student who has to find money to finance school.
Crosbie, like Nora, is definitely not who he first appears to be. He may be a track star, he may be the Robin to Kellan’s Batman, but he is looking for someone who sees him for who he is, all the pieces. He’s a magician, he’s a talented runner, he needs to study to make decent grades. He’s just a normal guy really but there is something special about him that Nora sees and responds to.
Nora’s friendship with her ex-best friend also plays an important role in the story. Nora places blame on Marcela even as Nora wants to not take on blame herself. It’s a situation she has to come to terms with. I respected how Nora had to tackle that issue head-on. It’s never easy mending a friendship, no matter how old we are.
Undecided has become my go-to book to recommend to people who want to try new adult. It’s a great mesh of sexy, burgeoning relationship, and real world messes and problems. It hits all the right notes for me as a reader (though I do hate the name Crosbie spelled with an “ie” at the end and not a y). Julianna Keyes has shown how far this category has come since its inception a few years ago. I am hopeful more authors will follow her lead and create characters and stories that resonate on a real-life level. I appreciate a good romance that takes me away from the real world, but even more, I love a romance that can do this AND more using the messy world around us.
I could not recommend Undecided highly enough. Go out and buy it and then, like me, I am sure you’re going to want to devour Julianna Keyes’ backlist.