How My Summer Went Up In Flames | Jennifer Salvato Doktorski | Book Review

That awkward moment where you desperately want to love a book but end up feeling indifferent towards it. I was totally psyched for How My Summer Went Up In Flames by debut young adult author Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. Yet, I ended up feeling super irritated during the first half. I enjoyed the end. But, I never really cared too much for the main character, instead Rosalita just grated on my nerves the whole time. However, this book mostly keeps it light and does make for a fun summer read, overall thanks to the secondary characters.

How My Summer Went Up In Flames Jennifer Salvato Doktorski Book Cover

Rosalita ‘Rosie’ Catalano is super impulsive. She doesn’t typically thing, but acts on her emotions and her passions. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however it can get her in trouble. Like, say for instance when she goes to a party and her cheating ex shows up with the girl he cheated on her with. Pissed off, Rosie goes to his house and lights a box of mementos from their relationship on fire. Unfortunately, Joey’s – the ex- car catches on fire. Under a restraining order and with a looming court date, Rosie’s parents decide it would be best if she gets out of town for a little while. With her next door neighbor Matty and his two friends Spencer and Logan, Rosie goes on a road trip to Arizona. Her itinerary is packed and she’s not a happy camper. Of course, with three teenage guys, you can probably guess some sort of romance will come of this trip.

I hate to say this but I just really could not stand Rosie. She was so over-entitled for the first part of How My Life Went Up In Flames. At one point she talks about how her dad’s lampshade factory isn’t doing too well and how her mom’s assistant bank manager salary doesn’t make up for it THEN SHE GOES ON A SHOPPING SPREE AT NEIMAN MARCUS. Like, dude if your family isn’t doing so hot financially, why don’t you try oh I don’t know JC Penney? Then she spends most of the road trip pissed off because the guys have interests that involve using your brain – they enjoy science and other nerdy, awesome things. Like, she gets all angry too because they want to do touristy things along the way and she just has no interest in those things. So, rather than you know open herself up to new experiences she just sulks. And, okay I get that being dumped sucks but at the same time she just completely aggravated me with her bratty behavior. Granted, she does improve, but I am not really going to be joining her fan club any time soon.

Yet, I did not dislike every character in How My Summer Went Up In Flames. First, there are female characters that Rosie is friends with (Lilliana and another girl but I won’t spoil you). These characters come across as friendly and unselfish and caring. There’s no backstabbing or anything and it is nice to read about females who have each other’s backs. I also really just loved Matty, Spencer and Logan. The whole road trip happens because Logan is driving to college (Arizona State) from New Jersey. Now, Matty is Rosie’s next door neighbor and they might as well be siblings. He’s very sweet and supportive. Spencer is Logan’s little brother and definitely a nerd, but again, a genuinely nice guy. Logan basically keeps Rosie on her toes and doesn’t put up with her pampered princess BS. Basically, Logan is the best and said a lot of things I was thinking out loud.

I did like Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s writing style, for the most part. Seriously, there is no way that I would have been able to get through this book if the writing was atrocious, but luckily it was exactly what I look for in a breezy contemporary. How My  Summer Went Up In Flames is told in first person, through Rosie’s point of view. It’s a very quick read. The pacing is on point. I’d say the book is cute overall, but as you saw above, some things irritated me.

In all, I think that mileage may vary for How My Summer Went Up In Flames.  I think that if you are a YA road trip connoisseur, you will really like this book. I also think that if you are more of a plot person than a character person, you’ll love this book. For me, personally, I think that Amy And Roger’s Epic Detour did the whole road trip across the USA thing much better, but that’s just my opinion. Give this book a shot, you may like it much more than I did.

Disclosure: Received for review via Edelweiss

Other reviews of How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski:

The Bookaholic – “It was an entertaining ride-along of a read
Book Blogger Mom – “It was a cute story.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I really enjoyed this one, but I can definitely understand why you didn’t like Rosie. She wasn’t the most likable. I’m happy you still liked some things!

  2. Ooh, I can imagine wanting to shake that girl! What’s up with the expensive shopping spree? It sounds like she gets what’s going on with her family financially, since she mentions it, but doesn’t really care? And then there’s the whole pouting because she doesn’t get her way on the road trip. Gah!

    At least the second half made up for it. Still, gotta love a road trip book!

    • Well, basically it’s kind of an aside — that oh her dad’s lampshade business isn’t doing too well and her mom’s salary doesn’t compensate, but even so, I am pretty sure her family must be in the 1% given that I know people who work in banking in upstate and let’s just say they aren’t struggling. So, yeah. Anyways, that was just a super huge pet peeve. And it also makes me peeved when characters don’t appreciate their privilege.

      Yeah, the second half was decent.

  3. I’m still going to be reading this, but ugh. My liking for a book heavily rests on the characters so it’s a bit discouraging to hear you didn’t love it. I mean, Rosie does sound annoying, but at the same time I always end up liking the characters everyone else hates so who knows. I’ll probably be that awkward person that enjoys it.

  4. Rosie does sound super annoying which I’m thinking is going to be difficult for me to get past. Still, I’m definitely going to read it when I’m in the mood for something cute and light. I’m also really glad to hear about the female friends; I get so frustrated when all the female friends in books end up backstabbing or turn catty.

  5. It sounds like Rosie would get on my nerves too. I hate when the narrator only whines and mopes instead of trying to look at things positively or doing new things. Sorry this wasn’t all you had hoped for April! But at least the secondary characters made up for Rosie’s annoying behavior. Great review! 😀

  6. I will probably strike this one off my list, because I don’t want to bother with an unlikable heroine. The most appealing thing about this book is the summer feel, because I am CRAVING some warm weather. Thanks for letting me know what this book is about, so that I don’t have to bother with it!

  7. Oh no, I’m sorry this book was disappointing. It’s probably going to be the next one I read. But I am definitely a character person when it comes to books, and it sounds like Rosie is beyond annoying. Frustration!!!!

  8. Honestly, Rosie sounds like a girl I’d want to punch in the face. Harsh I know, but it’s the truth. Characters are a big deal to any book I read and they can either make or break the book for me! I’m not sure if I’ll be reading this book but thanks for your honest review!

  9. I am concerned. I do not do unlikable protagonists well. I have this book for review too, so I hope I like Rosie better than you did. I am glad the side characters were enough to carry the book for you. But I’m worried now. Oh well, all I can do is try. Lovely review, April.

  10. I’n a sucker for road trip books. That means that I will probably, at some point, pick up a copy of this and read it. The main character sounds super bratty though, so that makes me hesitate a little bit.

  11. Oh, man. Your strong feelings toward disliking Rosie make me so nervous. I was really looking forward to this one because um… I just can’t stay away from a good “my life’s gone to crap” book. Now .. dang it. Maybe I just won’t read it soon. I just really need to be able to connect with the MC. :-/

  12. I love road trip books, so I’m looking forward to this one! Sorry it didn’t work out for you. I’m hoping I end up liking the main character!

    Great review!


  1. […] Pure Imagination Boekie’s Book Reviews The Perpetual Page Turner Good Books and Good Wine […]

  2. […] ? April @ Good Books and Good Wine wrote “In all, I think that mileage may vary for How My Summer Went Up In Flames. I think that if you are a YA road trip connoisseur, you will really like this book. I also think that if you are more of a plot person than a character person, youll love this book.” (Read the rest of the review Here!) […]

  3. […] Check out Jaime’s review at The Perpetual Page Turner or April’s review at Good Books Good Wine. […]

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