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January 23, 2013

Review: Return To Me by Justina Chen Headley

Return to Me

Title: Return To Me
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Publisher: HBG Canada
Publication date: January 15, 2013
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Paranormal)
Source: NetGalley
Format: Digital ARC
Pages: 352
Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.
And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
Justina Chen Headley wrote a very dear novel to my heart, North of Beautiful. I found her writing to be powerful and her characters and plot to portray the lives that many people nowadays go through, so when I found out she had a new novel, I immediately picked it up. However, Return To Me, even with its soul-searching and signature writing of Headley, did not impress me and in the end I passed it as a good, but not great read. 
Rebecca Muir's life comes crashing down when she discovers something about her father and ends up doubting every single person in her life, especially her boyfriend. In the beginning, I found Rebecca's attitude towards her mother, sneering and condescending, to be a bit of a turn off to the novel. My mother and I are very close and I acknowledge all of her sacrifices for me, so I didn't understand how Rebecca could only look at her mother's need to be organized and in control as something to snicker about with her father. Something else that I found out of place was the paranormal aspect of this novel. I am not a big fan of when contemporary novels have a hint of paranormal to it, and Return To Me had that. I found myself disregarding anything paranormal in the novel and just focused on Rebecca's relationships with everyone around her and how she is dealing with the drastic change in her life, something Headley is good at conveying to the readers. 
I did enjoy Return To Me but I would have enjoyed it so much if the author focused on the contemporary part of the novel. I just didn't know where to direct my attention towards, plus I'm not that big of a paranormal fan and I entered reading Return To Me thinking it will be the same emotional ride that I took with North of Beautiful, a novel that I recommend to everyone to read. As for Return To Me, I recommend it to fans who like a mix of genres in their novels as well as a down to earth novel that centers around family, relationships, and emotions surrounding them all. 
Books by Justina Chen Headley: 
North of Beautiful


  1. Oooh I didn't know this one had a hint of paranormal. I find that really odd too, so I don't know how much i'd like that. I haven't read North Of Beautiful yet, so maybe I'll start with that one first! Great review :)

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)

  2. This book has definitely caught my eye, probably because I've heard so many great things about this author. I'm going to be picking this up (hopefully), because I'm still curious about the author's writing style. I'm sorry the connection with the characters was weak. I can deal with paranormal aspects in contemporary, even though it is a bit odd sometimes. Everybody's different, right? Lovely review, and thanks for the honesty, Juhina!

  3. The synopsis doesn't hint at paranormal at all so I think I would have been thrown off by it. This does sound good, and I honestly don't mind a hint of paranormal in contemporary if it's done well. I don't know that I would pick this book up though. Great review!

  4. I think I can deal with the paranormal aspect, but maybe not the attitude toward her mother. I don't know, I'm still on the fence about this one. Thank you for the great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  5. I like a good emotional read. Thanks for sharing your great review. Interesting that is has a paranormal aspect to it.

  6. I haven't read any of the books by the author. I'm glad found some good in the book, but I have to agree with the attitude with the mother being a turn off. Thanks for your honest opinion!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  7. I am not great with slight paranormal touches to an otherwise contemporary book. I always feel like there should be better development. Anyway, I'm sorry that this didn't impress you quite as much as North of Beautiful (which I've heard great things about!), but I'm glad you thought it was a decent read overall. Lovely review!

  8. I didn't realise this book had a paranormal aspect to it, I love my contemporaries, so don't know if I would like that mixture at all especially if it didn't work out for you. I have a copy of North of Beautiful, so can't wait to pick it up after more high praise from you. I think I will still pick this book up, but not yet, sorry this didn't work for you as much as you hoped, wonderful review! :)

  9. Oh no! I actually didn't know this book has paranormal stuff in it??!! :s And I completely agree, I think a contemporary should be kept just that..a contemporary. That's too bad about that, but I'm glad you came to like it overall!

    Great review, Juhina! :)

    ~ Maida @ Literary Love Affair

  10. I didn't know this had paranormal elements to it! I'm glad you were able to enjoy it despite this identity crisis. I read an interview with Justina about her inspiration for writing this (her own family troubles) and it sounded like such an intense and emotional contemporary story. I also loved North of Beautiful, so I was SO excited to read it. I probably still will, but I'm not thrilled about the paranormal additions. Excellent review! :-)

  11. I was really excited for this one. I didn't know it had a paranormal aspect to it though. Now I'll prepare myself if I pick it up. I have North of Beautiful as well, I really need to read it. Great review, Juhina. :)