ARC Review: One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

Massive thanks to Scholastic Press for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book! One Way or Another eBook: McDowell, Kara: Kindle Store

The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s about 34,999 too many for Paige Collins, who lives in debilitating fear of making the wrong choice. The simple act of picking an art elective is enough to send her into a spiral of what-ifs. What if she’s destined to be a famous ceramicist but wastes her talent in drama club? What if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in the ceramics studio and everyone drops dead? (Grim, but possible!)

That’s why when Paige is presented with two last-minute options for Christmas vacation, she’s paralyzed by indecision. Should she go with her best friend (and longtime crush) Fitz to his family’s romantic mountain cabin? Or should she accompany her mom to New York, a city Paige has spent her whole life dreaming about?

Just when it seems like Paige will crack from the pressure of choosing, fate steps in — in the form of a slippery grocery store floor — and Paige’s life splits into two very different parallel paths. One path leads to New York where Paige falls for the city . . . and the charms of her unexpected tour guide. The other leads to the mountains where Paige might finally get her chance with Fitz . . . until her anxiety threatens to ruin everything.

However, before Paige gets her happy ending in either destiny, she’ll have to face the truth about her struggle with anxiety — and learn that you don’t have to be “perfect” to deserve true love.

Oh. My. Gosh. I am literally in love with this book.

I apologize in advance if this review seems very ramble-ly, but boy oh boy, my poor POOR heart is still reeling from this emotional rollercoaster of a story!

I read One Way or Another in one sitting, but now I’m wishing I hadn’t. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more, and I’m so bummed that it’s over. It was sweet, swoon-worthy, romantic, relatable, and so very meaningful. Don’t let its playful cover and adorable synopsis fool you– This book may be wonderfully fluffy and fun, but it is beautifully open and honest as well. What do I mean by that, you might be wondering? Well, Paige, our protagonist, lives with extreme anxiety and the constant fear of making a wrong decision. The way her mental struggles were portrayed was SO realistic (although it should be noted that everyone deals with anxiety differently). As someone who understands the never ending struggle with anxiety and (if I’m being honest) basic human interaction, I was so, so happy to see my thoughts represented through Paige. Seriously… as I was reading, I was thinking… Hold up. I’m not the only one who feels this way? Someone else understands my struggles! I’m not alone!

Beyond that, the way in which Paige’s anxiety was accepted by the other characters in the story was so heartwarming. Fitz, Paige’s best friend and long-time crush, was so sweet when it came to helping Paige during her panic attacks and making sure that she felt seen, heard, and appreciated. He was literally the cutest, kindest, most thoughtful fictional boy EVER, and I think I might be in love with him. I’m not even kidding! We need more boys like Fitz in the world!

The story itself was wonderfully plotted and perfectly paced. Romance, friendship, mystery, and Christmas magic were all things that contributed to me flipping the pages like a madwoman! I do understand that it’s the middle of September, but the whimsical feeling of Christmas is something that should be celebrated all year long, in my opinion! And this book does just that.

I won’t spoil anything, but One Way or Another couldn’t have ended more perfectly than it did. The way the two main story-lines merged in the epilogue was simply brilliant, and I applaud Kara McDowell for crafting something so original and unique!

I’m not exaggerating when I say that One Way or Another is one of the best contemporary novels I’ve ever read. I will be recommending this wonderful adventure to EVERYBODY, even after the holiday season is over. I don’t think I have ever felt this way about any book before, and I’m so happy that this one came into my life when it did. If you’re a fan of swoon-worthy boys in magical, Christmas-y settings, One Way or Another is definitely the book for you. Its heartwarming themes, phenomenal mental health rep, and adorable romance all make it an absolutely spectacular story. I truly cannot recommend it enough!

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3 thoughts on “ARC Review: One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

  1. readingbystarlightblog says:

    Fact: I am ALL about Christmas. Carols, holiday specials, equally cheesy Christmas movies – I LIVE for it. [I’m basically a child and I have no issue with that].

    Basically, One Way or Another has been on my radar for this years holiday TBR and I am SO happy that you loved it so much! 100% going to add to my cart… I might even splurge on that gorgeous hardcover…

    As a person who suffers from anxiety, over-thinking and just general stressing I’m super excited to read a Christmas story with a protagonist who deals with this too. It makes me so happy to see mental health becoming more mainstream in fiction. Beautiful review, Octavia! 💙

    Liked by 1 person

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