Genre: Mature Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 6/15/12
Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.
Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.
Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait?
While the tales themselves are fictional, some of the events and characters are very loosely based in reality and on my experiences—but don’t worry, the names of the characters, most of their unfortunate fashion sense and/or questionable taste in music has been changed to protect the not-so innocent.
Due to language and some adult content, this book may not be suitable for readers under the age of 16
I'm going to do my level best here, to be brief and keep myself together, because what I really want to say is...
"OMFG. YOU GUYS MUST, MUST, MUST READ SHARK BAIT! IT IS HANDS DOWN ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS I'VE EVER READ. GO NOW!!"
So yeah. That fanatic, CAP SMASH-riddled statement? I meant every word. I am seriously so mad at myself for not reading Shark Bait when I bought it, last June (!), that I'm contemplating punching myself in the face. I mean, how ridiculous is it that I have missed out on what is, without a doubt, at the tippy top of my favorites list?!
When I started Shark Bait, I assumed it was a sweet teenage love story. I love sweet teenage love stories. However, there is a whoooole lot more going on here. You have the coming-of-age story of Camie Ramsey, a girl who has been home-schooled her whole life, and now she is headed out into the big scary world of public education. And, she just moved. Aaand, her mom has cancer.
Camie quickly acclimates, and in what turns out to be a pleasant surprise, she thrives. Camie quickly makes friends, great friends. She also "meets" the guy she wants to fall in love with and marry. For real! Tristan Daniels. I have said many times before that I have a hard limit of age requirements on book boys I will swoon over. Tristan Daniels is pushing those limits to the breaking point. Holy jeez, that guy...yeah, I'm just going to stop talking about him now.
But before you start thinking Shark Bait is a sappy story full of too-good-to-be-true moments and insta-love, don't worry. Yes, she does easily fit into her new life, and she does harbor daydreams of walking down to aisle to Tristan, the entire story and Camie's observations are told with such wit and self-deprecation that it is clear that Camie does not take herself too seriously. She is sincerely one of the most endearing heroines I've had the pleasure of reading.
In addition to Camie's coming-of-age story, Shark Bait is also the story of the careful planning and cautious navigation of a first love. Of pushing for what you want, but having the self-respect to hold out for what you deserve. Expectations, disappointments, communication, happiness, despair, pain, betrayal, elation... every emotion that can possibly be experienced in the discovery of love is touched upon in Camie's story. The high, lows and every point in between.
Besides the story of Tristan and Camie, there is also the story of friendship. And that, that makes me happier than you can imagine. Camie makes some great friends at school, guys and girls alike, but none as close as Kate. Kate takes Camie on the first day of school, and helps her through every scary and happy moment. Kate is the kind of best friend we all hope for. In addition to Kate, though, Camie truly becomes friends with Tristan, and all of his guy friends, most notably "Dear Jeff", Kate's on-and-off boyfriend. This circle of close-knit friends is what being a teenager is all about, in my opinion. The way these kids teased each other, joked with each other, busted each other's balls, but always always had each other's backs, it was so much fun and so freaking fantastic to read.
So back to when I said Shark Bait wasn't just a sweet teenage love story? That was so true, and beyond surprising. There were these little moments, beginning with the prologue, that triggered a thought I couldn't quite put my finger on. But later in the story, the author would bring those little moments that niggled my brain, and gave bits of enlightenment over why this particular character said this, looked like that, etc. Authors who can do this to me, pull the story back around and slap me in the face with a surprise are why I love to read.
The Grab Your Pole series is not only about Camie, but this entire group of friends, and brings Camie's own family, particularly her sister Jillian (bad ass!), more firmly into the mix. And you guys, I am currently reading book two, The Other Fish in the Sea (shhhhh!), and I will say that Jenn Cooksey has further mananged to blow my mind.
Full of moments that will make you literally laugh out loud, clench up at the raw emotions of the characters and their experiences, gasp at the genius of the story unfolding, cry at the heartache and the happiness they experience. I can say that I have rarely had the experience of reading a book that has managed to dig this deep. Shark Bait, this series, is all that I've been talking and thinking about for days. And gosh, that is worth more than I can ever hope to express.
And you know what? It can kiss my almost sixteen-year-old ass. ~1%
"Is something wrong?" I asked, not knowing why he'd gotten so "dreamy" out there or what that look was about, or, in fact, how to take any of it. I was second-guessing myself, as I oftentimes do, wondering if I'd just mistakenly read whatever might be growing between us to be more than what it is.
"No...not wrong. It's just...no one's ever understood it that way before." He sounded almost gratified. Then, adjusting the rearview mirror and looking out the windshield, Tristan quietly asked, "So, where do we go from here?"
The optimist in me thought it sounded like he could've been asking about us in a figurative way and I felt like saying, "I don't care where we go as long as I'm with you." My inner realist told him where I live instead. ~27%
Kate caught up to Jeff to tell him we were leaving and when Tristan overheard, he turned back to me and with twinkling eyes and an unmistakable playfulness, he confirmed our date by saying, "So don't forget to put me down for epic failure and a complete lack of success on Friday...say about six, okay?" ~46%
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