Review: Just Sing by René Gilley

Just Sing
(Seven Oaks #1)
by René Gilley
YA Contemporary, Performing Arts, Music
Paperback266 Pages
June 5th, 2014 by The Writers Coffee Shop


“Follow you dreams, follow your heart, love your family and Just Sing."

Sixteen-year-old Lily O’Brien has one goal in life—to sing. Her dream is to get into a top notch college vocal program, but the summer before her junior year, her high school cuts their awarding-winning vocal ensemble. She might as well kiss her dreams goodbye.

When the snobby new neighbors move into their mansion up the hill, Lily is positive summer can’t get any worse, and she’s determined to hate and ignore them—until she meets Aiden.

He’s broken and beautiful, and they become reluctant friends. Through her newfound friendship, she finds the strength to step outside the comfort of her plan and follow her dream.

But when Lily’s family is about to lose their home, she puts her wishes aside and finds the answer to save their generations-old ranch in the last place she expected.

My Review

Just Sing. At first I wasn't sure if the title really represented the book. We start off finding out that the vocal program at Lily's high school has been cut, but then there were just a few instances of music interwoven through the story until almost the end. By that end, though, I felt the title definitely fit.

The story had a rough start for me, but once it got going I was pretty much sucked into the story. Lily's home life was not pretty. She had a lot going on both in a negative and positive way. She had a great voice and vocal teacher. She had a great job. She was fairly secure in who she was. She also had an alcoholic for a father and a family that used to be well off, but was no longer. Her world was changing and those changes felt threatening to her.

She had this amazing group of friends, mostly from a band, as well as a great boss and co-worker. The band group was fabulous! I loved how Phillip stood up for Lily and how protective he was. I loved Lily's brother and Aiden's sister!! Loved them! I also loved Lily's gram. Lily was an interesting character. She was fun, imperfect, innocent, loyal, and selfless. She would basically do just about anything for her family. Aiden was a pretty tortured guy. He had some major issues with figuring himself out and dealing with some family issues. Lots of anger and resentment there. He learned to turn to Lily for comfort and support and I really thought it was sweet how he would crawl into Lily's bed and sleep there (definitely not appropriate, but they didn't do anything other than sleep, which I appreciated, especially since I like my books clean). They really had an intimate friendship and I liked that they were attracted to each other, but that they cared about each other more.

I had kind of a love/hate relationship with this book. Although, to be more accurate, it's more of a love/dislike relationship. There were a few things that I didn't like and I'm just going to rattle them off here:
- I didn't like how Aiden treated Lily in certain parts and how she always gave in to him. It felt a little manipulative on his end.
- I didn't really feel Barbie telling Lily the family secrets was very realistic of a parent, especially when she's hiding those same things from her son.
- I didn't like how much power Melanie seemed to have and how she seemed to be everywhere in this story.
- I felt like Lily let a lot of people off and should have had a stronger backbone towards some people (her father, mother, Aiden, Melanie, Aiden's parents).
- The swearing and that Aiden smoked.

Regardless of what I didn't like, this story and the characters just sucked me in. I couldn't even resist liking Aiden. He still has a lot of things to figure and straighten out before I will really be okay with him being with Lily. Then there is possibly another love interest for Lily. I'm not sure where the story is headed, but I am definitely planning on finding out.

Overall, Just Sing was a surprising YA Contemporary with its imperfect characters and families, a sweet romance that is first and foremost a friendship, and an ending that had good closure, but also perfectly set up readers for the next book in the series. I would recommend it to those who enjoy reading in the genre.

Content: There is some language, some abuse, some teenage smoking, and an alcoholic parent.

Source: I would like to thank The Writer's Coffee Shop for my review copy through NetGalley for this tour! Receiving a free copy from them did not affect my review in any way.

I'm also a stop for the tour for Just Sing today here. It's a really fun post with lots of extras, such as a playlist, character interviews, a dream cast, and a giveaway. So go check it out!


  1. These look good, I can't wait to read your reviews.
    Unfortunately it is winter here in South Africa, well winter as we know it - our little corner of the country doesn't really get that cold - we seldom even have frost!

  2. Crossing my fingers for you :D very much looking forward to reading your thoughts and reviews :) they convince me to read some books I am not really sure about.. so thank you for that :)

    As for me: I normally do not enter any challenges because for me, peronally, it takes the fun out of it :) if I HAVE to do something, I kind of get a bit edgy toward that... I just like to read what I really WANT to read at that particular moment..whether it is a re-read or a classic or a brand new one :)

  3. Those are going to keep you busy! A lot of those titles are new to me, and some of the covers are gorgeous! As for challenges, I don't think I'll be taking on any more this summer than I'm already doing: 5 year-round challenges and the COYER Summer Vacation Challenge. :-)

  4. Opposite of us. We don't get extremely cold here either, but it is definitely summer here with temps above 105 each day. Winter is great for reading too. Well, really anytime is good for reading. ;)

  5. Lol! I'm totally crazy, aren't I??? ;) Did you realize that before? I thought I'd limited it more and then when I put this together I found I was a little off. Just a little. Ha! I do listen to a lot of these while I'm on the computer or folding laundry or doing dishes. Otherwise, there would be no way for me to get these all read.

    I'll be going back to reading more of what I just want to read the rest of the year. Although, I do only sign up for tours for books I think I'll like, of course. Just sometimes it turns out that I don't like them and then I feel a little stuck.

  6. I'm a little crazy with challenges too and I'll be updating those intermittently. I know what you mean. I wish you luck in yours!!


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