The story of "Right Next to Me" begins as Sydney and her friends officially graduate from high school. Sydney spends all her spare time that summer with her boyfriend Gavin, and her friends Piper, James and Sean (Piper's boyfriend) throwing parties and going on adventures.
Yet, life is not without its struggles. Since her parents' divorce many years earlier and her father's lack of willingness to help financially, Sydney's mother constantly struggles to make ends meet. Additionally, Sydney often helps care for her siblings and the housework. Sydney worries how they will adjust when she moves out for college, despite her mother's insistence that things will work out.
Sydney moves forward with optimistic, not just for her family but also for herself and her boyfriend as she attends Boise State in Idaho while her high school sweetheart attends Yale in Connecticut. Yet, everything changes over Thanksgiving break when she discovers that her friend James has had a crush on her for years. She realizes she has a choice to either stay with her high school sweetheart or date his best friend.
"Right Next to Me" is Rachel Ward's second coming-of-age novel for young adults. Ward interweaves the plot with the present and quick flashbacks, creating an opportunity for the readers to truly know the characters. While the romance is slightly cliche, the voice and writing style is unique and charming.
The romance is kept light and clean with no sexual references except for the occasional make-out session by Piper and her boyfriend. There is no foul language, violence or graphic scenes.
Ward currently lives in West Jordan and is the mother of six children. Her previous novel is "Dear Jane." She graduated from BYU-Idaho with a degree in English.
Lauren McAfee is a librarian assistant at Cedar City Public Library. She manages the social media platform, writes grants and assist with other outreach efforts in the community. Her email is [email protected].