4/5 Nerd Glasses
Author: Kate Abbott
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Synopsis: In DISNEYLANDERS, 14-year-old Casey Allison, on the brink of starting high school, struggles to find a new identity on her family’s annual summer vacation, but with the help of an outgoing boy she meets while waiting in line, she discovers that Disneyland is the one place where her overprotective parents let her have the freedom to grow up.
Brought to you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz
Review: As a HUGE fan of most things related to Disney, I was giddy with excitement for the chance to read Disneylanders by Kate Abbott, especially since I have yet to have the chance to visit Disneyland in California. The book definitely did not disappoint!
It’s the summer before Casey’s first year of high school and as much as she’s enjoyed her usual trips with her family to Disneyland, she isn’t really looking forward much to this one. Her best friend has kicked her to the crib a while ago for popularity and boys, and Casey hasn’t been able to get over it. She’s also incredibly nervous about starting high school and wants to go in feeling older and more mature but if it’s up to her parents, she’ll be growing up a lot slower than she wants. Casey isn’t looking forward to the same, boring routine her parents make her go through once they get to Disneyland. But thanks to a little girl who writes all over her pants and her super cute brother Bert, Casey’s Disneyland trip is about to start looking up.
I had a lot of fun reading Disneylanders. It was such a throwback to when I was an awkward teenager going through the teen years and discussing bras with my mom. Casey’s insecurities and frustrations about growing up were very relatable and her parents inability to let her grow up. I like the dynamic of their relationship and how Abbott gave both sides to what the teenage years are like both for the teenager and the parents.
Bert was so freakin adorable! He is so sweet and patient and loveable. Despite the fact that his parents are never around and how much that disappointment has affected him, he still has a big heart and a charming personality. He’s the kind of guy any mom would want for her daughter’s first boyfriend.
Disneyland itself played a big role in the book, not just as a setting but as its own character. As a Disney World fan (both because I live in Florida and because I LOVE Magic Kingdom!), it was a lot of fun getting to experience what Disneyland is like and what it contains. The trivia you learn about the park makes you want to go there even more. Abbott puts a lot of attention to detail and it shows throughout the story.
The romance build up between Casey and Bert was oh-so-sweet. They have their moments of awkward silence and moments where they argue. They also have moments full of humor and adorableness. They spend two days running around the parks together and discover a lot about each other and themselves. I like the innocence of their relationship but also the weight of truth behind what they both are facing as individuals. Disneyland isn’t just a vacation for them. It’s where they have a few days to be free, to be themselves, to be the little kids who believe in magic, to fall in love for the first time. And you can believe that because there’s always just something so enchanting and magical about Disney.
There were minor things I had an issue with that bugged me. I’m not sure what parent, at least in today’s day and age, would allow their 14-year-old daughter to go running off with a boy she JUST met for two days around Disneyland. Bert may be respectful and sweet but a a serial killer can be the same way. I would have expected Casey’s parents to be a little more demanding of knowing answers or at least to follow them around the first day and get to know Bert. Casey’s parents, although realistic enough, had scenes where they sounded and acted like pre-teens more than Casey did instead of the adults they were. Those scenes were a bit uncomfortable at times to read.
Outside of that though, Disneylanders was a really fun read! I would recommend it to parents and teens alike. Fans of Middle-Grade fiction will definitely enjoy it! It’s a story filled with a sweet romance in a place where magic still seems real and anything can happen.
About the Author: Kate is the writer of the middle-grade novel DISNEYLANDERS, published by Theme Park Press. She is a former editor of video game strategy guides and wrote MOSHI MONSTERS MOSHLING ZOO: Prima Official Game Guide. She received an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside, Palm Desert.