Blog Tour: Autofocus

Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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Title: Autofocus
Author: Lauren Gibalsi
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Adoption, Coming of Age, Family
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
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It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

After a couple of months not being able to read, I'm happy that Autofocus is one of the first books that I read after my busy semester. While it was a quick read, it was interesting and uplifting.

I really have no idea what adoption is like. True, I may know what it is in its most basic sense, but other than that, not really. This is one of the things that I like with Autofocus: it captured my attention and made me feel what it's like to be adopted - the feelings that came with it, the insecurities, and most importantly, the love from all the people around. Right from the start, I was able to immediately connect with Maude because of her journey to find out even more about herself.

The way her journey was portrayed is realistic, especially when her parents were half-supportive and half-not-supportive. It was great to see her parents worry about Maude looking for things about her birth mother, but also at the same time support her with her decision because they love her so much. In the end, they are parents who only want the best for Maude.

Not only is the family-stuff realistic, but also the romance. I love how the romance was built on friendship first, which is a rare thing to find in YA nowadays. I just love how I was able to be with Maude and Bennett as their love for each other grew. I felt so giddy with every single moment that they spend together (like, OMG!! Bennett is such a sweetheart.) I also love how Bennett just knows when to be there and when Maude needs to be alone. Plus, the fact that this one isn't a love at first sight thing is already a bonus in itself for me.

The entire journey of discovering herself was uplifting. I love how Maude was brave enough to actually take the first step and go to Tallahassee in order to find out more about her birth mother. It had a lot of bumps along the way, which I think is also pretty normal. I find myself being able to associate with Maude, especially when it comes to dealing with changing personalities and environments. As she realizes that she is not defined by the people or the things around her, I just found myself rooting for the new version of her. While this realization is something already known to many of us, giving more emphasis to it is never enough, especially since we all encounter moments where we start questioning things again. With this, I love how some concepts about photography (which is what Maude loves) is able to be connected to the realizations that she has.

However, one of the few things that I didn't like with Autofocus was its ending. It had a nice ending when it comes to Maude's journey of discovering herself, but I felt like the romance part was left hanging. I would definitely want to learn more on how Maude and Bennett will be moving forward, but the ending just leaves a sense of what now?

Overall, Autofocus is about life - finding oneself, loving and learning how to let go. It emphasizes how we are our unique selves, and we are not defined by others, which is a truly beautiful message.

*I'd say around 3.5 - 4? I'm really having a hard time deciding. :/

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Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT'S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), and AUTOFOCUS (out 6/14/16), all with HarperTeen / HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.


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