24 May Bookbed reviews ‘Almost There’ by Tara Frejas (#summercrush Anthology)
Beach. Love. Rock and roll.
When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.
Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.
Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)
Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)
Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes) Get a copy: Amazon (ebook), via the author (print) / Read reviews: Goodreads
WHAT I LIKED
One thing to keep in mind while reading Tara Frejas’ Almost There is that it’s a short story following the events in Scandalized. I haven’t really read the latter, and I had so many questions while reading Almost There that could’ve been easily answered by reading her previous work (more on that later). Despite this, knowing that it’s a follow-up to Scandalized, it feels like the author tied some loose ends, drawing a final conclusion to Fi’s romance and choices from the first book.
But going back, reading Almost There was like opening a bottle of feels! There’s always something about missed chances that stir up frustration and regret in me because I always think of the what if’s they present. This is also the exact reason why you end up loving Fi and admiring her loyalty and strength, just because she doesn’t waver. Being a road manager is probably no joke, but her level-headedness was apparent all throughout that I had to admire her for it.
I also loved how the author was super low key about the conflict until the perfect moment. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not (and this will sound like some crazy rambling) but the storytelling itself sounded like it was in parallel with Fi’s thoughts regarding the whole drama—you obviously know it’s there but it’s not drawn out or given any thought until it was time. It helps a lot in giving the story some momentum, given that it’s about (estimated) 47 pages long.
What really draws you in the story though is how relatable the author made out the characters to be. Given that the story was mostly centered on Fi, it was equally amazing how easy it was to follow both Yihwan’s and Gabriel’s emotions precisely because it was so down to earth and relatable. You could’ve probably said the same thing yourself if ever you were in their shoes. It also makes it a bit easy to forgive them for deciding on the path they ultimately took (and if you’re just as emotional as I am, believe me, you’d need it).
One thing I noticed throughout the story though is the lack of hype and details for the characters and their set-up. Although I know that this is a short based on a novel, I felt like I needed more than basic details about the band and their popularity to properly jump in the excitement of it all. Or the fact that Fi was re-instated with the same band she had a scandal with before felt like it needed a summarized explanation to justify her being there at all. Up until the climax, I was feeling slightly lost and trying to fill in the blanks.
I probably should also mention here now that I fell in love with Minchan’s character and was constantly wishing that both he and Steven had a more active participation as friends and teammates rather than aloof, filler band members. I mean, I’m sure they’ve caught on to something happening to their happy little team, but they’re both presented as clueless bandmates without a care in the world. Maybe if time and space were not much of an issue, they’d have more to say than being cute in the background. Really though, just please, more of Minchan and my day would be complete!
Almost There is definitely a treat for those who have read the main story, especially when it gives you a sort of fan service similar to what you’d expect to read in a K-pop idol AU fanfiction. Being a follow-up story may give it the disadvantage of having less room for details and might leave you wanting for answers, but it makes up with a good cast and a very fun sense of humor and wit. With good storytelling and lovable characters, it’s hard not to finish this story in one sitting! Personally, I think I’ll be reaching for a copy of Scandalized next to finally give me some closure (and answers—lots and lots of answers). ☁