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Wrong in All the Right Ways

Review

Wrong in All the Right Ways

Falling in love with her foster brother seems forbidden, yet Emma Ellenburg cannot control her feelings for Dylan McAndrews. When Emma’s parents bring home the dreamy Dylan to live with the Ellenburg family, an idealistic Emma begins a romance with the troubled teen her parents may soon adopt. Inspired by the classic WUTHERING HEIGHTS, author Tiffany Brownlee gives young adult readers an old-fashioned love story with contemporary characters who reflect today’s conflicts. WRONG IN ALL THE RIGHT WAYS makes you think about following your heart even at the expense of others.

Brilliant Emma Ellenburg wants to follow her heart. The pretty blonde admits, “I want to fall in love. Who doesn’t?...Somewhere between the first kiss and falling in love, life happens. Messy entanglements ensue, summer flings and, hearts break…but if it means I find the other half of my heart in the end, I think it’s worth it.” The novel, which is narrated by Emma, is so compelling because the high school senior shares her innermost thoughts and feelings. Readers will especially enjoy her journal entries that she keeps for English class. Her class is reading WUTHERING HEIGHTS --- known for its “famous lusty foster siblings.” Fittingly, Emma writes to Catherine Earnshaw, the book’s protagonist.

"Author Tiffany Brownlee gives young audiences a refreshing romance with a clever connection to a classic. Emma and Dylan are unforgettable characters..."

If Emma sees herself in Catherine, then Dylan must be Heathcliff, the orphan brought into the Earnshaw family. The traumatized Dylan, who resembles “pre-Miley Liam Hemsworth,” was placed in foster care because his father shot and killed his mom. The artsy Dylan struggles with academics while Emma (who skipped two years of school) shines at the top of her class. Erudite Emma hides behind her glasses and considers herself a “plain Jane,” but the instantly popular Dylan is captivated by his foster sister’s beauty. Just as Catherine finds herself in love with Heathcliff, Emma falls hard for Dylan. The story’s parallels to WUTHERING HEIGHTS reinforce its timeless themes of love and what relationships are acceptable to society.

Afraid their relationship might jeopardize Dylan’s adoption, Dylan and Emma secretly date --- romancing in the sunny setting of Southern California. Most of the story unfolds at the sprawling Ellenburg home where the teens meet in the pool house (Emma’s new room) or Dylan’s art studio. The family also keeps a vacation house at the exquisite Lake Arrowhead where the Ellenburg’s bring Dylan for fall break. I enjoyed following Emma’s lavish lifestyle, and I would have loved even more detail. What town do they actually reside in? Where is Cedar Pointe High?

Cedar Pointe High connects young adult readers to Brownlee’s characters. Everyone can relate to the social groups in a high school. Emma considers herself a “nobody” until “pretty, popular, perfect” Karmin Ortega invites her to try out for the dance team. Making the dance team and befriending Karmin elevates Emma’s social status and attracts the attention of Keegan, Karmin’s twin brother. Emma begins to date Keegan and use him as a “decoy” so no one suspects her involvement with Dylan. This love triangle kept me turning the pages of WRONG IN ALL THE RIGHT WAYS.

Author Tiffany Brownlee gives young audiences a refreshing romance with a clever connection to a classic. Emma and Dylan are unforgettable characters who remind audiences of the pain and pleasure of falling in love. WRONG IN ALL THE RIGHT WAYS is the right pick for your summer reading list.

Reviewed by Juliette G., Teen Board Member on August 2, 2018

Wrong in All the Right Ways
by Tiffany Brownlee