Back When You Were Easier To Love by Emily Smith
Publisher:  Dutton Childrens Books
Published  April 28th 2011
Hardcover, 304 pages
Challenges:  100 Books in 2011

What’s worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you’ve been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan – the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah – unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan’s former-best-friend Noah.

Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy’s story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.

Back When You Were Easier to Love is a perfect read for the summer – its not too heavy and not too light… it is just right.  The pace of the book is also just right.  Paranormal characteristics and action scenes are replaced by a religious undertone and an honesty of life, making Emily Wing Smith’s book is very entertaining, while simple yet complex.  In a journey to find out why Zan suddenly left her, Joy and Noah take a road trip to track him down.  During which time, Joy discovers things that she otherwise never would have learned, about herself, others, and life. 

It’s never just one thing. If it were, U.S. history would be a two-week course, nothing something you study your whole life. The Civil War wasn’t just about slavery and the Revolutionary War wasn’t just about freedom. World War I wasn’t just because some guy got assassinated, and World War II wasn’t just because of Nazis, and the Beatles didn’t break up just because of Yoko Ono. It’s never just one thing. 

Life and people are never just one thing, and Emily Wing Smith has captured this wonderfully.  Joy learns that people are not just one thing – they are not always who they appear to be, while some more than others are more complex.  Most importantly, Joy learns that she is not just one thing – she is not just Zan’s girlfriend.  Joy is not just Mormon, she is not just a girl in love, she is not just a girl whose boyfriend left without a good-bye, she is not just a new girl in a new town…. Zan is not just the boy that left without saying good-bye, he is not just a ‘rebel’ against his home town, he not just a bright smile…. Noah is not just Zan’s best friend, he is not just the all American boy surrounded by people…

Emily Wing Smith’s style of writing flows wonderfully, without complexities and confusion.  Back When You Were Easier To Love is a great and wonderful break for all the paranormal and teen angst novels.  There is something wholesome and honest about the characters and the plot.   

My Rating:

** Disclosure: I received this book from The {Teen} Book Scene in exchange for an honest review.

  Emily’s WebSite

Even as a child, Emily Wing Smith had overly thick eyebrows, a passion for writing, and a tendency toward attending odd schools. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when she graduated first with a BA in English from Brigham Young University, and later with an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College. It’s also no real shocker that she spends too much money on eyebrow waxing.

Emily lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, where she writes, bakes chocolate chip cookies, and occasionally substitutes at her old high school (which hasn’t gotten any less odd).