While I was reading American Dreamers and American Love Story I requested and was granted an arc of the final book in the series, American Sweethearts. This is an honest review in exchange for an arc from NetGalley.
Juan Pablo and Priscilla have been on again off again since they were sixteen. Through the Dreamers series they have been off. It’s painful to both of them the way they love each other but can’t live with each other. The second chance at romance is a well loved trope. What Herrera is interested in exploring is not a fated mates situation, but the hard work that goes into changing toxic patterns. Before the book opens, Herrera send Juan Pa to therapy.
After that last time, I told Juan Pablo he needed to grow up and leave me alone. I’d been angry and frustrated, but before he walked out of my apartment he’d looked me straight in the eyes and said, I will. After that, it had been radio silence. No, “You up?” texts in the middle of the night, nothing. He’d stayed away like he said he would, like I’d asked him to.
JuanPa has gone to therapy and is working on changing the way he engages with Priscilla, starting by not engaging with Priscilla until she invites him to. Priscilla doesn’t entirely know how to react. Changing the dance steps of an established relationship is hard and while JuanPa has worked on a lot in therapy, the two of them still make missteps and have to navigate baggage. Neither wants to start again if they aren’t going to make it.
Herrera does such a beautiful job of showing the web of connections between them and the way those connections make it easy to fall back into each other, but also how they hinder them growing together. Like the other books in the series, American Sweethearts is loaded with social justice and high on the heat index. It’s a lovely last book in an incredibly strong debut series.