ARC review: The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

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Dani Cavanaugh’s mom has planned out her whole future for her.  As a college psychic, her mom works with high school seniors to help them find the ideal program and school for their interests.  For Dani, a major in communications at Ohio State was the plan.  Not in the plan was Dani failing her senior year English class and getting her OSU admission revoked. Dani’s determined to get her life back on track, so she enrolls at her local community college with plans to transfer to OSU next semester.  But what happens when she realizes that her big life plan might not be what she wants anymore?

I first found out about this book through That Artsy Reader Girl’s 2017 Debut Author Challenge.  Imagine my surprise when I found it on Netgalley and then was actually approved for an ARC!  This turned out to be one of my favorite debuts of 2017.

If I’m totally honest, I wasn’t so sure about it when I first started reading.  It took awhile for me to really get sucked in by the writing, and my natural status as #1 problem solver kept trying to kick in for Dani.  I found myself thinking, “What kind of high school teacher fails a kid based on one paper? I’m sure she could have contested that.”  I thought, “What kind of parents don’t care about what their daughter actually wants?  Why are they more concerned about her lying than about the fact that she felt like she couldn’t tell them about her admission being revoked?”  I also thought, “This is a good warning as to why you shouldn’t declare your major before you even start college.”  But then I told myself to turn my brain off and just enjoy this book.  And I did.

Initially, Dani is upset about her plans changing.  She’d been accepted to Ohio State, a well-respected Big Ten university, and was now walking into the admissions office of Denton Community College with her tail between her legs.  But it turns out that DCC is a really good fit for her.  She makes friends.  Her classes are tough but enjoyable.  She even reconnects with her old neighbor and the two start dating.

Dani really takes her future into her own hands.  She gets herself a job at the college bookstore so that she can save up money for her inevitable transfer.  (I am super jealous because I would have loved to work at my university’s book store.)  She finds herself an internship in a field that she loves.  She grows as a person and becomes more responsible and more mature.

There are two main conflicts in this book.  The first is between Dani and her mother. Because Dani’s mother, for as famous of a psychic as she is supposed to be, does not understand her daughter at all.  She wants her daughter to be someone that she’s not, and it frustrated me immensely.  Her mother even grounds her.  Grounds her.  I was, in general, pretty respectful of my mother while growing up, but I think I would have laughed in her face if she’d tried to ground me while I was in college.  Dani is an adult.  She is allowed to have her own opinions and make her own mistakes.  I really disliked Dani’s mother for failing to realize that.

The second main conflict is between Dani and Luke, her childhood neighbor that she begins dating at the beginning of the book.  Growing up, Dani had a huge crush on Luke.  He was her best friend’s older brother and she swooned over him at every chance.  Now, they’re both grown up and taking advantage of the fact that they’re allowed to be alone and kiss each other and nobody can stop them.  But, the thing is, we never really feel any chemistry between them.  Aside from their first kiss, they just kind of coexist on the page.  Dani has a thousand times more chemistry with Porter, her coworker and Luke’s roommate, than she ever had with Luke.  But much like Ohio State had always been Dani’s dream, so has dating Luke.  Dani has to reconcile the fact that sometimes your dreams don’t turn out the way you want them to.  That sometimes dreams can change, and that’s normal and okay.

I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  Maggie Ann Martin definitely did justice to the genre, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free ARC of The Big F from Macmillan/Swoon Reads via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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