I received a copy of the eBook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Outspoken is a cute, contemporary coming-of-age story about 18 year old Penny Beck. She is a girl who always says yes when she means no. She is a people pleaser, and that has led to some disasters in her personal life. So she is going to change.

A grandpa with early stages of Alzheimers who needs someone to check in on him is the perfect excuse to leave home for the summer before college. Penny travels from Montana to the coast of South Carolina, practicing her new assertive self on all she meets.

Archer could be trouble, though. Penny cares what he thinks of her, and is in danger of losing her newfound independence.

This was a light, fun read. Lora Richardson successfully gets into the head of an 18 year old girl searching for independence. Her personal struggles were realistic; she fought with her parents about her decision to not go to college in the fall, she wanted space from her overbearing family, she wanted to make her own decisions. She was uncertain about her direction, and terrified to break the rules.

That said, I’m not sure I really liked Penny. She is friendly and willing to approach new people, and, to be honest, a bit boring. The disconnect I had with her character was simple: she thought of herself as a someone who couldn’t say no, she slept with a guy who had just dumped her, but then she had no problem telling someone she’d barely met and who thought he was doing something nice that he was rude and shouldn’t interfere. Speaking up for herself isn’t actually her problem. Timing and delivery, on the other hand, is definitely questionable.

Archer didn’t really appeal to me; he was intended as the bad-boy love interest, but I found him a bit boring as well.  That said, the development of their relationship was cute.

The plot wasn’t very fast paced  or exciting, mainly, I believe, because it dealt with issues of day to day life and growing up. For all that, Richardson portrayed a realistic life of an 18 year old on her own for the first time; we didn’t all have exciting lives at that time!

Because this novel is character driven, I had hoped for more development throughout the story. I think this is where it fell short. Penny did not really seem to change; I didn’t find that she really became more sure of herself. Perhaps her romance with Archer was more mature than her last one, developing at a realistic pace, but her basic character remained the same.

All in all, a nice romance from a debut author. It is a good read for a teenager, with nice themes about standing up for yourself, growing up, and when to ask for help. I don’t think it will appeal so much to those of us who already have figured it (mostly!) out.

Outspoken is published by Createspace.


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