Title: Keep My Heart in San Francisco
Author: Amelia Diane Coombs
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: July 14th, 2020
Sparks fly when two ex-best-friends team up to save a family business in this swoon-worthy and witty debut perfect for fans of Jenn Bennett and Sarah Dessen.
Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—hit up estate sales to score vintage fashion finds and tour the fashion school she dreams of attending. But her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.
And the one person other than Chuck who wants to do anything about it? Beckett Porter, her annoyingly attractive ex-best friend.
So when Beckett propositions Chuck with a plan to make serious cash infiltrating the Bay Area action bowling scene, she accepts. But she can’t shake the nagging feeling that she’s acting irrational—too much like her mother for comfort. Plus, despite her best efforts to keep things strictly business, Beckett’s charm is winning her back over…in ways that go beyond friendship.
If Chuck fails, Bigmouth’s Bowl and their San Francisco legacy are gone forever. But if she succeeds, she might just get everything she ever wanted.
**Thank you to Simon Pulse, Netgalley, and Amelia Diane Coombs for an early book copy in exchange for an honest review**
Caroline “Chuck” Wilson loves San Francisco – she would do anything to stay living there. When her father’s bowling alley, Bigmouth Bowl, starts to go under, Chuck thinks she can help out. Her ex-best friend, turned new best friend, Beckett suggests they participate in illegal bowling gambling by hustling bowlers under the table at lanes across San Fran. While she’s bowling her heart out to stay, she’s giving her heart away to someone who broke her trust a long time ago. Will she be able to save her family’s bowling alley?
A main focus of this book is Chuck’s struggles with her mental health, and the potential of turning out like her mom – who killed herself when Chuck was young. Her mother had bipolar disorder, and Chuck has already experience several depressive episodes. Every decision she makes, she wonders if it’s a decision that should be made or one she made impulsively – which would denote the manic side of bipolar. Due to the afterword, the reader knows this is an Own Voices novel, and I cannot speak on the mental health portrayal in this book as it’s likely very personal for the author.
The other main plots are the bowling and the romance. As someone who has been bowling for over 20 years, I have to say that there are several bowling inaccuracies in this manuscript, which could potentially be cleaned up in edits or with further research. However, the romance felt very flat and unconvincing to me. I’m all for friends to lovers and hate to love tropes but Beckett as a character was very one dimensional and I didn’t buy the romance. The date scene was good and unique, but it all fell flat for me.
Overall KMHISF was a decent Young Adult rom com with the unique twist of bowling. It wasn’t my favorite, but I guarantee there are many people who will read it and love it.
Happy reading, folks!