If there’s one problem I have with this book overall, it’s the cover description. Partially for giving out the entire backstory, but mostly for making it out to seem like another cookie-cutter YA rom-com. Talk about wild misrepresentation. What looks like a fluffy, winter-vacation romance about girl snowboarders is actually a fairly deep and thought-provoking study of a girl learning to stand on her own and embracing her family, warts and all. What I love about Syrah is that she feels so real. I love that she has so many distinct personalities—dutiful, but wants to lash out with her parents; ‘don’t bother me’ at school; even confident and cocky whenever she’s on the slopes, and she still has these moments of fear and vulnerability. I liked that she’s so complicated and hard to pin down. I really do like it in realistic YA (okay, in a lot of YA) where the conflict/plot is all centered around the romance. Syrah does linger on her ex Jared, as well as her convoluted feelings toward her best friend Age, but she doesn’t spend the whole book whining about either one. Any romantic discussion is more focused on Syrah trying to be herself, and whether or not if she necessarily needs someone to fulfill herself. Also, I just like her friendship between herself and Age—I like that they have an actual friendship, rather than just coy flirting and Syrah’s inner dialogue talking about how hot Age is. There’s some contrived drama with Age and their relationship, but I’ll touch on that in a bit. I love that a lot of the book follows Syrah’s family and her place in it. One of the things that really stands out is that Syrah is the result of a broken home and she’s had to deal with this fact for her whole life. I like that while she doesn’t exactly kiss up to her half-siblings all of the time, Syrah does try to mend fences with them. I especially love Syrah and Grace’s emerging sisterly feelings and that they’ll try to be there for each other. There’s also a nice semi-parallel with Syrah’s mother and her sisters; it’s definitely a book that deals with the healing processes. And I also liked that Syrah wanted to be more than just how her parents were, and finds a way to reconcile with her family name with her own wants and desires. One of the other things I really liked here was Lillian and her and Syrah’s growing friendship. I loved Lillian; I liked how she cared about her family, how she’s able to stand up for herself, and how she and Syrah slowly begin to open to one another. Not to mention, she’s the first to really spark Syrah’s change. I also like that because of Lillian, Syrah does start to see beyond other people’s facades, including the bitchy mean girls. The only bit I would I have liked to have seen with this (and this is my only other major problem with the book) is that I would have liked some reconciliation between Syrah and Age’s girlfriend Natalia. It just seems weird that she would have this revelation and not try to mend that particular bridge. Also, I kinda sorta maybe wanted to see more with Syrah and Bao-mu. A part of me doesn’t want to, as so much of the story is focused on Syrah growing up and moving on, but Bao-mu does contribute a lot to the story, so I wanted to see the deeper part of their relationship.As I said, despite the flirty cover, this is a surprisingly deep and interesting book. It touches on a lot of different issues—family, culture, history, self-esteem—but neither feels like it’s too cloying or simplistic. It’s a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.