Book Review: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Title: Dear Cassie
Author: Lisa Burstein (twitter: @LisaBurstein)
Genre: contemporary romance; realistic fiction;
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: 5th March 2013
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

My Review:

Dear Cassie is a companion novel to Lisa Burstein’s debut, Pretty Amy however you don’t need to have read Amy’s story in order to enjoy Dear Cassie.

Cassie Wick is struggling to deal with the fallout from the Prom Night disaster. Faced with jail time or a month-long stint at a rehabilitation camp for rebellious and troublesome teens – Cassie chooses thirty days at Turning Pines Wilderness Camp. Her criminal record is not the only problem Cassie’s facing. An unplanned pregnancy and a boy who may have just been using her to cover his own behind. And now there’s Ben. Ben Claire – the type of boy you can tell is a drummer in a band and considering how they met – Cassie just knows that he has got to have as many issues as she does.

I loved Cassie in Pretty Amy. But after reading her own story I fell even harder. She’s not pretty. She’s angry and frustrated, scared and confused. But she’s real. And at Turning Pines with only fellow “inmates”, the wilderness and her journal for company – there’s nowhere to hide from her thoughts. Her regrets. Stubborn and hurt, Cassie’s story was one that I loved reading. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. She’s such an engaging narrator. The hurt, confusing and feeling that there’s no way out that Cassie experiences is something that I think every teen can related to in some way or another.

The relationships in this novel were such a pleasure to read. From the bizarre room-mates Nez and Troyer to the counsellors – they all added that element of realism to Cassie’s story. Even the often mentioned but never seen Tim. I loved wanting to know what happened next and how Cassie would react next. And then there’s Ben. He may not be a conventional romantic lead but there was something very engaging about him. He’s sweet in the oddest way. There’s one romantic gesture (you know the one if you’ve read the book!) that on one hand is the most crazy and ridiculous thing ever but on the other – it’s the kind that makes my heart happy.

My favourite books are the ones where the characters grow. They learn from their past and they try. Try to be better even when thing seem their most dire. And this book satisfied me in the best way. Cassie grew. By the end of the novel she’s not the same person who first entered Turning Pines. And I loved that about her.

Dear Cassie is a beautiful novel about regret and trying to move on. Realistic characters with heart and engaging stories, this is a novel that is both relate able and powerful.


Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with a review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon / Book Depository 


  1. This book reminds me of Being Henry David by Cal Armistead. I love it when characters grow and learn from their mistakes. I will certainly read this book thanks to your review. Also, I’m curious to know what this BIG thing Ben does in the book! Great review!

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