(Image from Barnes & Noble)
When Sara's dad invites her to accompany him on a business trip to New York City, she's ecstatic. They'll only have one day to fit in his meetings and see all the sights, but that's okay—the 17-year-old can't wait to spend some one-on-one time with her workaholic father. When the inevitable happens, Sara's not really surprised, just disappointed. Reassuring her dad that she can entertain herself while he's stuck schmoozing, Sara bites down her anger and vows to do just that. Armed with her trusty point-and-shoot, she's capturing the city's energy on film when she spies something that really interests her: a mysterious guy in a hoodie advertising her favorite indie band. Sara snaps a quick picture, an innocent action that sets in motion an adventure the likes of which she never could have imagined.
Sam's not really in the mood to be the subject of some tourist's vacation shot, but he has to admit there might be something different about this one. Sara seems almost as lost as he is. So, he lets her tag along with him as he criss-crosses the city seeking something unique for a very demanding client. The more he gets to know Sara, the more he wonders if she might be more than just a new friend, but also his salvation.
Although I love Lisa Mangum as a person (she's funny, down-to-earth, and just super nice), I'm not a huge fan of her books. Her newest, After Hello, is definitely my favorite of the bunch, but it still just didn't quite do it for me. The novel has a fun premise—two strangers race against the clock to find something special in a city full of surprises—that, unfortunately, gets too melodramatic and far-fetched to fulfill its charming promise. Neither Sara nor Sam really spoke to me. They both seemed tortured and wise beyond their years, which gave their story a dark, unrealistic twist. Overall, After Hello is a quick read and not a bad one, it just wasn't as engaging or as magical as I hoped it would be. Bummer.
(Readalikes: Hm, nothing is coming to mind. Suggestions?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language (no F-bombs)