Time of Our Lives

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Time of Our Lives Book Poster Image
Teens try to balance duty and dreams in road-trip romance.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of interesting vocabulary, because Fitz is obsessed with words. Juniper's into architecture and talks about the design of specific buildings. Northeastern United States geography and points of interest feature in the story. Characters tour several colleges, giving readers a feel for campus tours and college life. Some information on early onset Alzheimer's.

Positive Messages

Learn to be more open minded about your goals and worldview. If you're in a rush to meet future goals, you risk missing out on the life that's happening right before your eyes. Be in the moment and appreciate what you have. Don't assume you know what others are going through or what they're thinking. Honesty is an important part of any type of relationship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fitz is a sweet, dutiful kid, even though he can be a little self-righteous. He wants to take care of his mom when her illness worsens, even if means sacrificing his future. Juniper is smart, hardworking, and driven, which sometimes mean she doesn't appreciate her family. Each character family love them and want what's best for them, but sometimes don't know how to express it. Fitz and his brother are adopted, his brother from India. Juniper is Mexican American. All the characters are good people who grow in positive ways over the course of the story. 

Violence
Sex

The story is a romance, so lots of flirting and descriptions of looks and sexiness. Characters kiss, make out, and have sex, with one sex scene detailed. Teens lie to their parents and share a hotel room on a trip. Some examples of hook-up culture at college. A character interrupts a couple who were likely having sex.

Language

Infrequent, strong labguage includes "f--k," "s--t," "badass," "a--hole," "bulls--t," "god," "hell," "butt," "ass," and "c--kblock."

Consumerism

A few mentions of brands and media for scene setting, including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Google, PlayStation, Nintendo, FaceTime, YouTube, Microsoft Word, Starbucks, Panera, and Urban Outfitters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Fitz's brother gets drunk at college parties. The characters attend a fraternity party with lots of alcohol and drinking games, but Fitz and Juniper don't drink. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Time of Our Lives, by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a coming-of-age romance about two high school seniors who meet while touring colleges. Fitz and Juniper have different ideas about what they want out of college and how far they want to be from family. Driven, high-achieving Juniper can't wait to start her adult life away from her noisy, overbearing family, while quiet, introverted Fitz wants to be close to his mom so he can care for her when her early onset Alzheimer's worsens. They challenge and change each other in a short amount of time. Because this is a romance, expect lots of descriptions of attractiveness, flirting, making out, and some sex. Strong language is infrequent and includes "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole." The two main characters don't drink, but they attend a fraternity party with lots of drinking. Characters lie to their parents a few times about what they're doing and who they're with. The story offers some good discussion opportunities around love, how much responsibility teens should have to their families, and how teens can make informed decisions about their futures.

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What's the story?

In TIME OF OUR LIVES, Fitz Holton is touring colleges against his will, while Juniper Ramirez has a serious agenda and can't wait to find a school that will change her life. Fitz's mom has early onset Alzheimer's, and he wants to attend a local college so he can help care for her when her condition gets worse. His mom doesn't want to hold him back and urges him to consider schools farther afield. Juniper is from a noisy, nosy, big family. They are always in her business. She wants to live her life on her own terms and figure out who she is outside of her family. She sets out for an East Coast college tour with her boyfriend and crosses paths a few times with Fitz. The two spark a friendship that grows into something more. They challenge each other's worldview and future plans. As they get to know each other, they learn a lot about themselves, love, responsibility, family, and the hard decisions that come with becoming an adult.

Is it any good?

Two high school seniors with opposite goals meet cute on college tours in this bittersweet romance. Even though it's a light, fast-paced story, Time of Our Lives accurately depicts the excitement and anxiety of leaving high school and entering adulthood. It's a scary transition, even if you're looking forward to it. Fitz and Juniper show both sides of this: One can't wait, and the other feels guilty about moving on. Both are so wrapped up in what they want that they don't see what's going on with the important people in their lives, another common teen trait.

The story moves along at a good pace, with the chapters alternating between each character's viewpoint. Fitz and Juniper are engaging and relatable, but a lot of the dialogue is forced and unnaturally mature. Still, the two grow in satisfying ways and learn how to live more in the present and appreciate their lives as they are. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters view leaving home in Time of Our Lives. Graduating from high school is an exciting and scary time. Are you excited to start your adult life? Scared? Worried? How can families work together to decide which decisions are best for teens on the brink of adulthood?

  • How do you feel about the way teen relationships are depicted in YA books? Do you like more realistic stories or escapist ones? Where do you think this one falls?

  • How much responsibility do you think teens should have in helping out their families with babysitting, caring for sick parents, tutoring, cooking, and other duties?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

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