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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Gina and Mike by Buffy Andrews

Gina and Mike (Yearbook #1) by Buffy Andrews
Genre: New Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 19, 2013
Publisher: Self

Gina McKenzie is a cheerleader with a super hot boyfriend who kisses like you wouldn't believe...

She's looking forward to the prom, then graduation and senior week at the shore. The only thing she isn't looking forward to is the start of college, because it means she won't be near Mike. They are attending schools on opposite sides of the state. 

But Gina's normal teen life ends the night she is brutally raped by her math teacher and Mike's baseball coach. Coach Smith threatens to destroy Mike's promising baseball career if Gina tells anyone what happened. To protect Mike, Gina keeps quiet and eventually, unable to deal with the effects of the rape, breaks up with Mike. 

They reconnect at their 20th high school reunion where the past catches up with them and Mike learns the truth about what happened 20 years ago.

Gina and Mike by Buffy Andrews was an emotional story. I couldn't imagine how Gina felt all these years. Or Mike for that matter. He didn't have a clue. It was frustrating that she didn't tell him her story earlier, especially once she told her best friend. He deserved to know, but I understand how hard talking about something like that would be. So, I get it. I'm not sure why the yearbook entries were included in the ending. They didn't pertain to the story at all.  The story gave you a look at the past so you know what happened with Gina plus get a little of her background with Mike and high school. I was ready to move on from the past pretty quick, and enjoyed the present view more. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted to know a little about Mike and Gina's future. I'm hoping we'll at least get glimpses of it in the upcoming books.

The bastard was dead.

I stared at the newspaper clipping that Mom had mailed me. I had read his obituary online, but seeing it on paper in front of me made it more real. Kind of like watching the Wicked Witch of the West melt in the “Wizard of Oz” – all the evil you loathe becoming a puddle of nothing.

Richard M. Smith, 61, was ushered into Heaven on Saturday, February 11, 2012, surrounded by his family at his home.

I’m pretty sure he went to Hell.

He was a loving husband, devoted father and dedicated coach.

He was the biggest asshole on this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Maybe on the whole East Coast. Oh, what the hell, let’s just say the entire country. You get the point, he was an A-S-S-H-O-L-E, and I hated him more than I’ve ever hated anyone in my life.

Mostly because he ruined it.

I grabbed my high school yearbook off the shelf in my office. Mom brought it on her last visit. She was cleaning out the basement, and it was among the things she didn’t want to throw away or take to Goodwill.

I opened the book and read the message I’ve read so many times I know it by heart.


To the best and sweetest girl any guy could have. You’re super in every way and you mean everything to me, and don’t ever forget that! You know I don’t like to write because I can’t express myself as well as if I would tell you but I’ll try anyways. I love you very much and want our relationship to last! You’re just a super girl, you care about me very much and I appreciate it because it makes me feel great inside, and I feel very lucky to have a girl as great as you. If I had to sum everything up about you in one word it would have to be amazing! It probably sounds dumb but that’s the way it is. I just want to let you know that I do love you and will do anything for you that you want me to.

Love, Mike

I remember his black hair and curls. His five o’clock shadow in the middle of the day. The way his smile took up most of his olive face and the way his dark eyes danced when I walked into the room. I remember the first time he told me he loved me, and the first time we made love. Why is it that you never forget your first love? Maybe it’s because it’s the first person you gave your heart to, completely. The first time you were afraid to breathe for fear the moment would pass and you would miss some of the seconds. Life is seldom what we think it will be. Especially when you’re seventeen and the biggest concern you have is whether someone has the same prom dress.

I ran into Mike once at the pizza shop in town. It was the day after Christmas, and I was home visiting my parents. I saw him as soon as I opened the glass door and the bell jingled. He stood at the counter, holding a baby bundled in blue. The sight washed over me like a damn wave that you never see coming until it’s too late and you’re face down eating sand. And just as you try to spit out the sand and stand up, you get knocked over again by the damn hot pizza smell that transports you back in time. Back to the night that you ate pizza in the corner booth that still has your names carved in the wood. The night you got drunk on the six-pack you took from your dad’s stash in the garage. The night you made out in the woods and fell asleep naked intertwined like pretzels under a crescent moon.

He turned and saw me and then came the smile. His white teeth seemed even whiter, his smile broader. There was small talk and more small talk. About his marriage and baby and move across town.

What happened? What happened to all the plans we had? All the nights we spent lying under the stars sharing our dreams. The kind of house we’d live in, how many kids we’d have. What their names would be. What happened to us?

Life. That’s what happened. One day comes after another and another and pretty soon you realize that yesterday was pretty damn long ago and that everything you had hoped for is never going to happen. You can’t control it any more than you can control that big wave from getting stronger before it nails you. All you can do is prepare and hope that when it hits, you’ll survive.

And hope that the secret you’ve kept all of these years doesn’t drown you.

Buffy Andrews is an author, blogger, journalist and social media maven.

By day she’s a journalist, leading an award-winning staff at the York Daily Record/Sunday News, where she is Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications and social media coordinator.

You will find her on a plethora of social networking sites, from Twitter and Facebook to RebelMouse and NewHive. She loves social media and loves to connect with her fans via the various platforms.

In addition to her writing blog, Buffy’s Write Zone, she maintains a social media blog, Buffy's World.

She is also a newspaper and magazine columnist and writes middle-grade, young adult and women's fiction.

She lives in southcentral Pennsylvania with her husband, Tom; two sons, Zach and Micah; and wheaten cairn terrier Kakita. She is grateful for their love and support and for reminding her of what’s most important in life.

To learn more about Buffy Andrews and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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