Happy Monday everyone!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
Synopsis From The Book
Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha (listed in alphabetical order out of fairness)have been friends since kindergarten. Now they’re in their senior year, facing their biggest fears about growing up and growing apart. But there’s more than just college on the horizon. One of these girls is destined to become the president of the United States.The mystery, of course, is which girl gets the gig.
Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who’s secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who’s got everything figured out…except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it’s Jordan, the group’s resident journalist, who knows she’s ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don’t overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.
This is the story of four best friends who have one another’s backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success–proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything…even a seat in the Oval Office.
GENRE | AGE RANGE – LABEL |CONTENT WARNING | THEMES
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
After all the heart wrenching books I’ve read in the recent days, weeks, I need a good up lifting book to set me back on track, which I figured could be this one. Now I wasn’t sure I wanted to still read it, after all I only got it for book club and book club is not and will not happen for a while. I really hoped that by reading this I’d have a light hearted morning.
Edit after prologue: Okay so this is a romance novel. We have a boy and his last name, and the fact that one girl will marry him. So who ever he ends up dating at the end is president. The Mystery is, who is the girl he picks. I can do romance guessing. Let me meet the characters and I’ll make my guess.
After intro, my guess is: Jordan. LOL JK. I’m actually expecting for it to be CJ, probably because she’s the main focus in chapter 1, but I already like Jordan’s character so I want to say Jordan. Because CJ is just so obvious. But, who am I kidding? It’s going to be CJ. She’s the main character.
Edit 1: Talk about a lead up, CJ says she wants to go into politics on page 15. Whatever I guess, let’s see how this happens.
Edit 2: I guess we are getting them all as POVs but my opinion stands. I want it to be Jordan, but it’s going to be CJ.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
Okay so I knew CJ was going to be president but I won’t say I wasn’t confused on how CJ was going to marry Logan when Ava was getting all the time with Logan and Wyatt was there in the picture. Answer, because Wyatt and Logan were cousins (not that they knew that at the time). That! Threw me off. Seriously, it did. However I did like how this progressed. I got a bit teary eyed and the likes but it was a good book.
Essentially this is a story in four parts with a frame asking the question of which one of these girls will be president? Ava, the Latina adopted daughter of a lawyer. CJ, the girl who has worked her but off to get into Standford. Martha, the working teenager who lives with her father. Jordan, the half black fashionista who has a way with words.
The book opens, after the frame, with the four girls moving to go to a park in Martha’s neighborhood. It is the park that the kids at their school always go to, to carve their names into the playground. Its a senior tradition, but this year the park is closed, because its being torn down in order to build a new office building. The four girls join their school in protest and learn that there is not much that they can do to save the park because they are not adults. While the four girls, who are best friends and have been since they were five, are constantly in each other’s stories the four stories kind of move independently from one another despite weaving together. Other than their friendship, Logan Diffenderfer, is the other common link. Note that at the beginning, Madame president is called by her husband’s name Diffenderfer, and we know that their relationship began with a kiss one night Senior year.
We go down the list in alphabetical order. “Out of fairness.” -370
Ava: Ava is an art student who wants nothing more than to get into RISD. She has never liked Logan Diffenderfer since freshman year when he called her stupid. She was not in a good place freshman year, for a single semester, and has kept her grades up since, but she does not like him. She knows that Jordan and he used to date, and that he isn’t horrible, but that doesn’t stop her hate for him. Because he called her stupid. So when Logan transfers into her art class, her safe space, to get out of AP Physics, she is horrified She doesn’t know what to do. Worse, he is told to sit next to her, and later they become partners in art. Ava does teach him some things about art while trying to ignore him and later what he said. They are forced to become partners for portraits for class and work after class together. Slowly they get to know each other better. Ava gets accepted at an art show for her art, beating out professional artists, and in her school counselor meeting about schools, she tells her mother she wants to go to RISD, as her top choice. Her mother has always pushed her to do more, to be more, and has told her that being an artist doesn’t have to be her only avenue and that it is not a viable career. She and Logan speak about parental pressure, and open up to each other more. Logan offers to help Ava find her biological mom, and after much debate she takes him up on the offer. He helps her through his family’s PI, his parents are lawyers, and Ava flies with CJ, and Jordan out to Stanford to find her biological mother. On the way there she reads a book gifted to her by CJ about Eleanor Roosevelt, that has her change the way she views her own depression. She meets her mother, who is a doctor. Her mother explains that she gave Ava up so that she could become a doctor and to follow her own dreams. When Ava returns home she tells her mother everything, and then after a Griselda mood, she talks to Logan about why she hates him. She hates him because he said some very mean things about her, things that he was saying because he was embarrassed by his own situation. Not that it justifies it but now he understands. They agree to truly be friends. Ava ends up applying to Stanford and writes her essay on a transformational experience, on meeting her best friends.
CJ; CJ has to get into Stanford, because it is her dream. She wants to change the world and in order to do that she has to have better SAT scores than a 1150. She’s taken the test twice and gotten the same score twice and hopefully the last test will help her. In order to boost her resume more, she starts volunteering for a group (its never explicitly named, I don’t think) that focuses on sports for kids in wheelchairs. It used to only be a short program but they were expanding it. She meets Wyatt, who accepts her despite not needing her (he only had one girl in the program and needed another coordinator to help him with the boy’s locker room). Wyatt got into a car accident on his move in day to Ohio State, and was left unable to walk, he had gotten into the school for a running scholarship. CJ meets Dakota, the one girl in the program who has spina bifida and is mentally scared from an incident at her school where she wet her pants while playing volleyball. As CJ grows to try to help Dakota with her issues with her friends at school, CJ gets to know Wyatt more. She and Wyatt begin to hang out, and CJ begins to grow feelings for him. She realizes that the world is harder for him, specifically after a terrible date at mini golf where he revealed to her that only 50% of the location was technically accessible to him. She meets his mother, who makes dick pottery despite not trying to, and grows to really care for him. However after a severe mishap on CJ’s part for another date, that leaves Wyatt distraught, Wyatt tells her that he doesn’t want to be her transformational story. It’s the last essay for her Stanford essays, a transformational experience. He says he refuses to be the one who changed her life for some inspirational way, and she admits she’s scared that she has no idea how a relationship between them would work. She tries to kiss him and he does not respond back, they go back to working with each other with tension. Sometime in all of this, CJ goes with Ava to Stanford and also got her last SAT scores back that were lower than 1150. CJ also runs into Logan a few times at the school track, and they run together. She sends in her application to Stanford saying that she knows she’s average and she won’t let that stop her, because she hasn’t had a transformation experience yet but one day she will.
Jordan; After learning what happened to the park, she gets the great idea to try to learn more. She is going to make the adults listen to her with an editorial in the school magazine. She’s won awards before and she knows she can make them listen. She schedules a meeting with the congressional office to speak with their district congressman and ends up with his assistant Scott. With Martha and CJ’s help she gets research and pretends to be older than she is. She starts to learn more and slowly pressures Scott into telling her more, however as she learns more she learns that there is not much that she can do. She does, show how, get the concern for a park noted. She and Scott talk more and get to know each other more, and Jordan feels more like an adult than she ever has. After a mishap where Scott drives her home, to Martha’s, she and Martha are in a tiff because of Scott calling Martha’s home a shithole. Martha lives in a more run down part of town, but she is extremely defensive, because it is her home. In time the Park is still going to be turned into an office building, and a new park is to be built instead. Jordan finds this out on the night before her birthday from Scott who invited her out for dinner. She knew he wanted more in their relationship, although she never gave it because she was not eighteen. She tells him that night and he freaks out (justifiably in a way) and leaves her. That night her friends surprise her for her birthday and get her a voter registration card, which she uses to register, and later walks herself to file a complaint at Scott’s office as to why the park should stay, using her real name for the first time.
Martha; Martha wants to go to college but she probably doesn’t have the money. She works at the local movie theater every week trying to make money to help her future and father. She lives with her father, after her mother divorced him eight years ago. Her mother has a new husband and twins, and blames her father for a lot. Martha loves her father, and knows what he gave up to support her and her mother after her mother got pregnant at the end of high school. She doesn’t blame her father but wishes he had an opportunity to have a better job. At her work she meets Victoria, a girl from London, who is the niece of her boss. She and Victoria hit it off, and soon Martha starts hanging out with Logan who comes to the theater to watch movies alone. She learns that he wants to be a director or film maker, but can not because of his family. Martha applies for federal loans but finds out that she does not qualify because her mother makes too much money. This means she can not go to school. She freaks out and tries to call Victoria, because CJ, Jordan, and Ava are in Sanford. Victoria can’t meet with her so she goes to the art gallery instead, the one that has Ava’s work, and sees Logan there. Logan comforts her and Victoria sees. Martha is too afraid to ask if Victoria is angry because she likes Logan or because she likes Martha.
The girls apply to schools through the story and then hear back from them. Ava gets into a few and has to decided between Stanford and RISD. CJ only gets into Ohio State. Jordan gets into her choice schools and Martha gets into Cleveland and MIT, the only two she applied for. The girls also get their superlatives as seniors. Jordan as best dressed. Ava as most likely to become the next picasso. CJ as the tallest and Martha as the most likely to stay in Ohio. CJ freaks out about her future and what she is going to do and ends up kissing Logan on the track after calling him to run with her. Jordan decides that she is going to DC for school, even if its not what her parents want, because she wants to be a journalist. Martha goes to the military and talks to them despite having avoided them the whole book because she thinks they are exploitative. They tell her about a program that could help her pay for MIT, and she asks about flying helicopters. Ava has to make the decision between RISD and Stanford and picks Stanford because it was the hard decision to pick.
Logan and Jordan talk about their failed relationship, and why Jordan broke up with them. They are still friends. Martha and Victoria talk and kiss. Logan and CJ talk about their kiss and agree it was nothing, which then leads to Wyatt who shows up at CJ’s house on a horse. She had messaged him about how she was scared but she knew he was too, and that she wanted to be with him. We learn that Wyatt’s last name is Diffenderfer, making him Logan’s cousin. They kiss and she goes off with him. Ava sends a letter to Logan, telling him that she likes him and to meet her if he does too, he does. The four girls sneak into the lot of the new office building, Jordan having gotten the key from Scott, the day the cement is laid. They carve their names into the cement and leave.
The president is revealed to be CJ. Jordan is a big name at the Washington Post. Ava is a doctor of psychology, and a big name in art and art therapy. Martha is a general of the United States Army.
Extras: Jordan is single and living the high life. She and Logan, who is there at the inauguration ball, speak to each other briefly. He tells her he thought it could be her, but she knew what she always wanted to be. Martha is married to a woman named Claire and they have two kids. She and Victoria broke up years ago and lost touch however Victoria was the one who taught Martha to love and she appreciates that. Ava and Logan talk. Ava has an adopted daughter who is fifteen. Logan has two sons, eleven and nine. They were together for one summer before Ava broke up with him breaking both of their hearts. They only got back in contact after college when Logan wrote her a letter, she said it wasn’t time. She had to be there for herself and she did and was for years and adopted and went through school and he found another person. He asked her to tell him not to and she never did, until the year of the inauguration. The four girls meet in CJ’s new office before Ava and Logan can talk about her letter to him. They are hanging out (lol). They speak and are able to get Ava to say she does still love Logan. The four of them continue to “hang out” (as if four adults could simply hang out in the Oval Office. It’s the Oval Office.)
What I Liked:
Ava Morgan; Ava grew on me more and more as the story went on. She didn’t hit me like a train of “YES” like Jordan did, but it was quiet and crept up on me and grabbed my heart. I also have a soft spot for artists. Am I angry that she didn’t become an artist? Nope. It makes sense for her to become what she did, and even if she has a gift it doesn’t mean she has to capitalize on it. I don’t even think she would have been happy as a full time artist, and I think what she did was ultimately the best for herself. I am happy that art is such a big part of her life, regardless. Her experience was so wonderfully written. She has depression and anxiety, which was done well and the way that those around her reacted was done well as well. Out of all the characters, I loved her the most.
Clarke Josephine “CJ” Jacobson; Out of the main four, her story was the most meh to me. I understood it, and the purpose of it but comparatively she was the most privileged. However, she did become president and despite her set backs, I will give her the props there. She deserved that. I do have to say I FELT that pain with having to pick OSU. It wasn’t the only school I got into, but it was the only one I could pick because of money. So I know her fury.
Jordan Schafer; I loved her, the most at first until Ava overtook her. I loved her style and flair and need to grow up. Her decision in life and her trajectory with who and where she is, I respect immensely.
Martha Curtis; After Ava, I liked her story the most. I related to her for the lack of money for the college of her dreams, as well as many other things she went through. She had to do it on her own, which I respect and she reminded me of some of my friends, specifically those who had similar living situations to her. I’m happy she became a person she wanted to be, and that she went to MIT.
AxCxJxM; This relationship is so amazing that I just… It breaks my heart into a million pieces and puts it all back together again. They don’t talk about each other and are true friends to each other. In so many ways this is such a beautiful and amazing story of love between the four of them as they navigated their lives and staid friends forever. They were destined to meet in the park, and destined to be together, Ava was right.
Logan Diffenderfer; He has a horrible last name. And I know when a boy says his favorite book is Catcher in the Rye, I’m supposed to run but… Same. What he said about Ava was awful and made me so angry, that I understood her hate, but he had changed. We see him through the eyes of so many, and honestly its not so surprising to see that he is a genuine nice guy. Truly. His arc was just as complex as he struggled to understand why the girl he liked hated him, and how to deal with his parent expectations.
Wyatt Diffenderfer; I really did like him. TBH he’s the reason that CJ’s parts were far more entertaining. His humor was great, as was his personality. He made CJ shine in a different way, and also tore her apart and made her reevaluate herself completely. He was right. He didn’t deserve to be a footnote in her story, a transformational experience. He ended up being a transformational experience for her but not for the reason he thought he would be, and probably how she originally intended when she started volunteering. He was a brilliant person and perhaps one of the more stationary characters of the story, but that’s okay.
Ava’s Mothers; Shout out to her adopted mother for being there for her daughter through everything and trying, despite being a lawyer. Also shoutout to her for fighting for Ava even when Ava was at her lowest, because she believed in Ava. Then a shout out to her biological mother for picking what was best for her. I respect them both so much, and also respect how they staid in contact.
CJ x Wyatt; Honestly, I don’t know why Wyatt picked and staid with CJ but he did, so I’m guessing that is because she was truly trying to save the world and he could see that. I liked their development as a couple as well as addressing the way that CJ viewed their possible relationship and the judgements she had about it. Wyatt held his ground against her when he felt that she was using him and for that I have respect. I do, however, think that their relationship is cute.
Martha x Victoria; It was cute between them but also what Martha needed, a friend that was not a normal friend of the quartet. Their relationship and development of such was sweet, with cute banter and trust. There was also a lot of tension because neither of them knew if the other liked her, which was hilariously painful.
Ava x Logan; This, however was the fully painful romance, not in a bad way, in the heart ache sort of way. Enemies to lovers, two that really took the time to know each other and talk to each other and were afraid of even voicing what they felt. Yet there was a clear power between them that drew them to each other, even after they had not been together for years. Honestly, when they say artists love hard this is probably what they mean. While CJ and Wyatt’s was a more standard relationship, this one was swoon worthy in many ways. I liked how it was developed too.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
IDK, IMO I thought it was obvious that CJ would be president (even if I didn’t know that it would be with Wyatt. That did throw me off). There wasn’t much suspense in this regard for me.
“Depression is not your fault, and there was no fucking way I was going to let them punish you for it.” -pg 293