An American girl embarks on a competitive scavenger hunt in England—and along the way, meets up with a bookish British boy who can’t help her with the clues . . . but might make the trip take some unexpected turns.
Britt Hanson has always preferred scoring goals on the soccer field to analyzing dusty old books. But when an injury ends her dream to play in college, she jumps at the chance to compete in a scavenger hunt in England that takes her to the locations of classic novels—the prize money would change her life!
There she meets bookish and very British Luke Jackson. He can’t actually help her with any of the clues (against the rules), but something about Luke compels her to invite him to join her. She wouldn’t mind getting to know him—and listening to his accent.
To win, Britt must outwit three smart competitors who aren’t afraid to play dirty while solving clues and traveling around the English countryside. Along the way, Britt learns that sometimes you have to follow the map and other times, you need to throw caution to the wind and see where the cobblestoned road takes you.
This book took me completely by surprise, in more ways than one! First, because I won this book in a Mystery Pre-Order giveaway, so I didn’t even know I had won it until it arrived at my doorstep! Two, because YA contemporary is not a genre I EVER read. I don’t think I have a single other contemporary on my shelves (although this book may change that!) And third, because it ended up being exactly the book I needed to read this week.
“Are you finding what you’re looking for?”
“Better,” he said. “I found something I wasn’t looking for.”
In fact, I put another book back on the shelf to pick this one up, because I needed something more lighthearted and easy than a sweeping fantasy series (with a lot of worldbuilding to keep up with)! Honestly, the cover was just so cute, and after reading a few reviews, if felt like it would do the job of helping me to rest a bit more while reading.
And I am so glad I picked this book up! It truly blew me away. Where do I even begin?
The author did such a fantastic job of lacing together very witty writing that is both fun and clever while also being informative, into an exciting but cozy plot, with a great cast of characters and the perfect dash of romance.
While the plot does have the air of “unrealistic teen dream tip”, it is one hundred percent the kind of adventure I would want to go on if I visited the UK! The entire scavenger hunt was such a fun way to spend with with the great literary classics, and it was so fun to watch Britt get to have experiences that mimic iconic moments from classic literature.
We’re talking Dickens, Austen, Sherlock, the Inklings (Lewis & Tolkien), Shakespeare and Chaucer!
“I hate to see a pretty girl drinking alone.”
“Then don’t look at me while I continue reading my book”
Luke, Britt, and Al were all amazing in their own ways. I tabbed this book, and I have like five tabs just making times I was obsessed with Al. She has perfectly dry humor, acting nonchalant at every turn, and she was such a fun character.
“Forigve me for running away?” I asked.
“If you forgive me for not chasing after you.”
Luke and Britt are such a great pairing, while they are opposites in a lot of ways – Luke is a nerd, Britt is an athlete; Luke is reserved, Britt is outgoing – they also compliment each other perfectly, and their personal struggles and journeys of discovery mirror each other so well. Not to mention they have just the most adorkably swoony romance. Chapter 18 was just my absolutely favorite.
“Sometimes you need other people to help you see yourself more clearly.”
But the themes are the things that grabbed hold of me and just would not, could not let go of me. And while the writing, characters, and plot were all phenomenal, it is the themes in the stories that push it beyond five stars into something life changing.
“It’s better not to love something, isn’t it? It’s harder to get hurt if you don’t care.”
Britt is a girl who thought she had her life figured out with soccer, but after a bad injury she is having to start over, figure out what she what’s to be. Who she wants to be. The kind of loss and grief that she has to first acknowledge, and then process, is so relatable in a way we don’t talk about a lot. When we think of grief, we think of the death of a death, but grieving the death of a dream is extremely painful in its own way. The way Becky Dean navigates this journey with Britt is so authentic and relatable, giving space for Britt to make mistakes and grow, and for us to learn by experiencing the journey with her.
“I believe you will move on, but it’s okay not to be okay.”
This story is so much about learning to let go of the expectations and dreams you have for yourself and your life. But it’s more than just letting for, it’s also giving yourself the freedom to love something new without fear of losing that too. It is such a deep concept that I’ve never seen explored so well, this idea that every time you lose something, it makes loving something new even harder. Just beautifully done, and so incredibly encouraging for me in the season of life I am in right now.
“Forgiveness is acknowledging that they hurt you but moving forward and letting go of bitterness.”
Not to mention, there are always great themes of trying new things, forgiveness, second chances, and humility. There is a lot of great things going on in this book.
“I have you to thank for helping me discover who I want to be. No what, but who.”
Love & Other Great Expections is such a story of hope, and I am so looking forward to lending it out every one I know! While literary lovers will definitely enjoy this book hands down, it has a deep message of truth that I think can encourage any heart.
Definitely Literature Approved.
Also, please note it was incredibly hard for me to pick just a few quotes and not copy and paste the entire book. So many great lines!