Title: The Wrong Side of Right
Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Publisher: Dial Books
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.
Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?
Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.
I feel like doing things a little differently for this review – partially get to back into the swing of writing reviews, partially because I gave this book all the stars and I just want to focus on everything I loved about it!
1. Kate Quinn, our lovely protagonist
Kate Quinn is, as you just read, our lovely protagonist in this story. The comparison to The Princess Diaries is an apt one – Kate is much like Mia, who learns out of the blue that she has a very powerful father, along with the rest of the media and the country. In this case, Kate’s father is a senator who is very publicly running for the president of the United States, and the election is roughly five or six months away. She already had to deal with the sudden death of her mother the previous years, but now her family is expanding with a new father, stepmother, and two half-siblings – all of this is enough to make the most sensible person freak out, and while Kate definitely does that, at least internally, she’s able to cope with it all fairly way, but never in a really unrealistic way. On the way hand, she’s quite happy to suddenly have a father who cares about her and two little siblings to keep her on her toes, as well as a stepmother who might not be straight out of a fairytale. She wants to help her new family out as much as possible on the campaign trail, but she also wants to remain true to herself, which includes opinions of hers that might not fit with the campaign message. She just felt like a really relatable and wonderful protagonist, despite how unrelatable her situation might be for most of the country.
2. The Cooper Clan (well, most of them)
I was worried that the Cooper family could be a horrible, stereotypical one with a cold stepmother who only sees her husband’s earlier infidelity when she looks at Kate and two younger siblings who refuse to accept a “bastard” into their “legitimate” life and household or whatever, but luckily those worries were all unfounded. That’s not to say that there was’t family drama, but it was all interesting and genuine and simply led to sweeter moments of victory when things were working out. Meg Cooper, Kate’s stepmother (or whatever you want to call her) had a great relationship with Kate – yes, she had trouble accepting her into the fold at times, but she tried her best and she was always trying to look out for Kate, even if Kate was causing some issues with the election and campaign. She never seemed like a Lady Macbeth who was pushing her husband to reach for as much power as possible – she was an amazing person in her own right, and she cared about her family way ahead of the campaign. Her children, twins who were roughly eight or so, were also quite genuine – there was the instantly clinging but sometimes difficult daughter who accepted Kate so easily but could turn on her like a typical child and the shy son who needed Kate to prove herself before he show all his adorable love for her. There’s also a tough old grandparent who I wish had been around more, because she was awesome, and her relationship with Kate was awesome. Senator Cooper was the only Cooper who I had trouble with, but he had some really wonderful moments of fatherly love, and it was clear that he was trying his best to make his country into what he thought was a better place.
3. The Politics – yes, really
I am not someone who likes politics – which can really suck, since I live and go to school in a state that’s a swing state and thus has way too many political commercials, which I don’t think most other states have to suffer through (I think? I’ve never lived anywhere else, especially around election time). I wish that everyone was honest and there was no back-dealing and all that, no matter how naive and such that might make me – so, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the politics in this book. Fortunately, it was actually kind of interesting, even though Kate was stuck in a campaign that was openly critical of things like illegal immigrants and gay rights. Kate didn’t agree with everything the campaign stood for, but very few people were ever villainized, which I loved. I also loved the fact that Senator Cooper was willing to listen to his daughter and constituents who had important things to say, even if it went against what he had previously believed.
4. The Romance – even though there was some needless drama
I was all ready for the romance to be a cliche, the love interest to be a stereotypical “bad boy” who wasn’t really a bad boy. While it had its moments, especially toward the later, drama-filled chapters, I really did enjoy the romance a lot more than I feared. The love interest, Andy Lawrence, is the son of the current president – and Senator Cooper’s main rival. As a result, there’s always a bit of a question of whether he’s truly interested in Kate or he just wants to cause trouble and be a rebel. Regardless of his intentions (I won’t spoil that), his interactions with Kate actually were quite adorable and such, and I found myself liking him, especially when it became clear that he wasn’t a bad boy or trying too hard to be one.
These are just four things that I’ve pointed out, but I really did love pretty much everything about this book. I gave it all the stars because I think it deserves them – it made me happy to read it the whole time, and I’m already looking forward to rereading it. For me, that’s a sign of an amazing book, and one that deserves every star I can throw at it or gently bestow on it, depending on how subdued I’m feeling.