The East Side Matures | Review of ‘I Will Always Love You’ (Gossip Girl #12)

By Cynthia Ayala

I Will Always Love You by Cecily von Ziegesar Poppy
I Will Always Love You by Cecily von Ziegesar

“Blair, Serena, Nate, Dan, and Vanessa went off to live their lives. Now they’re coming home for the holidays. A lot can change in a few months… but some things never do. 

It finally happened: we went to college. We started over. No one knows who we’ve coveted, what we scored on the SATs, where our parents live, or when we became debaucherous. We’ve learned new things, made new friends, and maybe even met the loves of our lives. We’ve changed. Or at least, some of us have. But old habits are hard to break-especially when faced with your former besties and former flames. With everyone back in the city for the holidays, this break is guaranteed to be filled with makeups, breakups, and shakeups. Lucky for you, I’m here to report all the scandal as it happens. Let the games begin!

You know you love me,
gossip girl”*

Published November 3rd 2009 by Poppy, I Will Always Love You by Cecily von Ziegesar is the final novel in the bestselling young adult Gossip Girl series surrounding Blair, Serena, Nate, Vanessa and Dan.

I’m a person who likes to finish a series once I’ve started it (and yes, I realize I’m writing in first person – not always a bad thing). Unless things get really bad. Gossip Girl was always my guilty pleasure and I enjoyed it because there was a sense of realism to it. Not wholly realistic but who can say when it surrounds privileged kids with money bursting out of the ends. That’s not a lifestyle I’m familiar with but what sells this series is the characterization that is allowed to build through the novels, and even through this book.

There is certainly a challenge here to compacting four years’ worth of Christmas vacations into one hefty novel. But the writer was able to do it. Unfortunately, that didn’t allow for the characters to really grow…if they did at all. Blair and Serena are still the same, still hopelessly in love with Nate who loves the both of them. It’s a love triangle that hasn’t escaped the three people who went in various directions in life. However, that doesn’t take away from the novel. There’s always a sense that when people return home to their friends of days past, they return to being the people they were in high school. Maybe the cliché has grains of truth. Maybe not, but the way the writer presents it shows that before the characters engage with one another, they have grown, only to step into the past of who they were and a world of “what ifs”. It’s realistic in that sense because it does make the characters believable and it does make their relationships with one another believable, and that all works to make the story enjoyable. Through the exchanges the reader can see the characters slowly growing, slowly trying to escape the confines of high school hauntings. So in that respect there is some character growth regarding their dynamics and who they are.

Overall while the story is still light and full of well-written gossip, the story has a mature feel and it brings the story of these famous characters to a very solid close. It doesn’t tie into the show so if you’re worried about that, forget about it. The realm here is of its own making and that’s make it worth a read. The mature aspect that builds through the novel makes the visualization of the characters stronger and it keeps the story grounded. For fans of the Gossip Girl series, this is a good book to read to close that chapter of your life. (★★★★☆ | B+)

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 2009 Page count: 385pp Age Range: 15 – 18
ISBN: 978-0-3160-4361-8 Publisher: Poppy List Price:  $10.99

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*Disclaimer: Synopsis provided by Goodreads because there is no level of summarizing to capture the essence of Gossip Girl

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