12 August 2014

Calling California by J.P. Grider

Cali Parker is poor. She has a lot on her plate - her father is dying, she's working to help pay the rent, and she's two-years behind in college.

Griffin Brooks is rich. He has not a care in the world - he's acing his engineering courses, his hobby is restoring his fifty-thousand dollar classic car, and he has a different girl on his arm every week.

When Cali sees Griffin on her first day of class, she's immediately smitten and thinks she's found the perfect guy. When Griffin sees Cali at the bank, he immediately forgets the blonde he was with that morning. Then they meet, and their worlds collide.

Cali doesn't belong in Griffin’s world, and he doesn't understand hers. But just when Griffin convinces Cali that their two different worlds can blend, a secret is revealed that tears them apart.

Is their love strong enough to bring them back together, or will their worlds drift further apart?

Oh, NA genre…sometimes you have true moments of greatness, but I find mostly you have moments of mediocrity.  Recycled storylines and dull characters, these are unfortunately what I found to be contained within this story.
Calista is a 19 year old college student who has never had it easy.  She takes care of her sick father, and has had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities that should be on the back of a much older person. She’s finally beginning college after saving the money for two years straight to make it possible.  Griffin is basically the polar opposite of Cali.  He’s carefree and comes from money.  They meet one day when Griffin goes to the bank to cash a check for which there is insufficient funds.  Cali feels sorry for him and offers him her last $10 (I have to admit, that was really sweet).  This automatically tugs at Griffin’s heartstrings.  When they discover that they go to school together, their relationship begins to develop.  However, it’s not all rainbows and puppy dogs as they begin to reveal things about each other.  Will their relationship be strong enough to overcome some big hurdles not just in the present, but in the past as well?
This is your basic poor girl/rich guy story.  There are a few humdingers thrown in there to add drama to the story but I have to say that overall this was banal for me. I pretty much guessed where the story would eventually end about 20% into it, which made the remaining 80% a bit of a struggle.  I do not think it is a poorly written book; that was not the issue.   The writing is talented for sure.  I think where it really got me was in the originality of the plot.  Been there, done that.  I mean, the idea is sweet but I feel like I have read this same story a million times.
The characters to me felt more like caricatures.  They were both so over the top in their own ways that it really teetered on the edge of unbelievable for me.  Cali has such incredibly ingrained prejudices against money that it’s almost laughable.  She’s very judgmental for someone so young, and maybe I am missing something important here, but it really made me not like her. She has a sweet side, but for the most part I really felt like the drama taking place between her and Griffin was manufactured.  It was drama for the sake of drama.  If I knew someone like her in real life I think I’d assume they were unstable and run far and very fast.  Not to mention Griffin is just a major pushover.  I don’t like over the top alpha males, but he was basically a polar opposite to the OTT alpha.  He was a wimp.  He lets Cali just walk all over him.  In real life, my advice to Griffin would be to grow a pair, dude. 
Overall, this book just really didn’t do it for me.  As I said it flowed and was written well, but the plot and characters were just a big turn off to me in the end.  I really struggled to finish this one.  3 stars.

This is a difficult book for me to rate. I loved half the book and I loathed the other half. The parts of the book I liked were Nate, Mary, and Griffin (whom I absolutely love). What I didn’t like was Ellie, Tabitha, and Cali – yep, almost every major female character – and Bucky (but I don’t think we’re meant to like him). So I’m pretty much averaging 5 stars for the parts I loved with 1 star for the parts I hated. That said, Ms. Grider is a talented writer and I can recognize that despite hating some of the characters she created, because she did create characters I loved.

It’s unusual for me to be so torn by a book, so I’m really not sure how to review Calling California. As I said, I love Griffin. He’s such a nice guy; he’s down-to-earth despite his family’s wealth. He never lorded his money over Cali, nor attempted to make her feel inferior. And that’s probably exactly why I had such a hard time liking Cali. Yeah, I get she had it rough. I grew up in a financial situation only mildly better than hers, but I cannot relate to that mountain-sized chip she’s got on her shoulder. She acts as if people with money are always judging her, when in reality the people with money that she meets never judge her – it’s her judging them. This is not to say that I never liked Cali’s character. There are plenty of times when she’s with Griffin and later in the book with Nate, that she’s absolutely adorable. But, her prejudice toward people with money overshadows those interactions and just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

All in all, I would say that Calling California just isn’t the book for me. There are parts that I loved, but they just couldn’t overcome the negativity that seemed to emanate from Cali, Ellie, and Tabitha. That said, I am interested in reading the next book in the series because I liked Ms. Grider’s writing – it’s not her fault I didn’t like some of her characters.


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