artificial sweethearts, introduces us to tinka foster, who quite frankly is kind of an emotional mess. her entire childhood has been overshadowed by her brother's accidental death when she was an infant. and she's spent all her time avoiding confrontation because she can't handle people being unhappy with her.
the problem with this approach is that people are still unhappy and this makes tinka even more unhappy. home for the summer after a year away from her parents, everything feels wrong. especially when her parents surprise her with a new hometown, her old best friend who she isn't currently speaking to, and a golf instructor/potential love interest that she isn't interested in. ever since she went away to boarding school she's felt out of control, and all these changes make that sensation feel worse. she expected to come home and settle back into the routine of making her parents happy. but now they seem capable of doing that for themselves.
the foster family is totally the poster family for what happens when you avoid conflict and talking things out in the open. tinka's parents have made strides to heal themselves and their relationship, but they have completely forgotten about tinka. and so even when tinka's behavior comes off as self-absorbed or selfish you kind of get it, she has no idea how to approach problems with emotional honesty. everything in her life has been about hiding her true feelings, and at some point all that bottling up with lead to an explosion.
sam anderson really gets it. the emotional avoidance. the bottling up of feelings. the making everyone else happy at your own expense thing. all of those things tinka does, he does too. the main difference is that sam is inherently selfless, so he does all these things at his own expense. while tinka is more into self-preservation. but this understanding is what draws them together.
sure there's also the whole fake relationship thing. but that's just an excuse. because the reality is that they are both totally into each other. it's just that emotional honesty isn't something they are used to, confronting things head on, not their thing. so you see how they are meant to be.
even though this is the second book in a series, it stands alone. we do still see some of the small town quirkiness and characters we loved in any boy but you, but if you haven't read the first book, you will still enjoy the second. one of the things i really enjoy about these books is that the characters aren't perfect. they are flawed, and things blow up in their face even when they have the best of intentions. but this also lets us see how they grow. and also how letting people into your life can change you for the better.
**artificial sweethearts will publish on july 10, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: crush) in exchange for my honest review.