Hard-hitting yet humorous, this young adult contemporary following a teen’s transition from foster care to college by debut author Morgan Vega is perfect for fans of What I Carry by Jennifer Longo and Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour.
Foster care always promised her a bed. Now she doesn’t even have that.
Coralee (Corey) Reed can’t wait to trade her current foster house for Harmony Hall, the dorm for music majors. Corey arrives at Borns College with her pawn-shop violin and a borrowed duffle bag, ready to leave her foster care baggage behind.
But Corey’s first day on campus starts on a sour note. She runs into her archrival violinist Dylan Mason, then her name’s not on the dorm’s roster. Worst of all, Corey can’t live at Harmony Hall. Period. Because she’s not yet accepted into the music program. Instead, Reslife shoves her into a temporary triple with two unsuspecting (and beyond different) roommates.
When one of her roommates does the unforgivable, Corey starts sleeping around campus—from air mattresses to random couches—while waiting for an open room. But how can she beat Dylan for first chair if she can’t keep her eyes open? How can she pass her finals without a good night’s sleep? Will college, the place she thought would launch her dreams of becoming a professional violinist, be the place her dreams end all too soon?
My 5/5 Star Review:
Thank you so much to Morgan Vega for reaching out to me via my bookstagram, @UnabridgedBren , and giving me the opportunity to review this inspiring and emotional debut novel! The title is just as suggestive as some of Coralee’s (also known as Corey) music definitions– some of my favorites including ‘g-string’ and ‘f-hole’– but it is revealed to have a much more devastating meaning. Corey is a foster kid; one in the system so long that she has lost hope in most people– keeping her Violin closer than anything else in her life. We follow her journey as she takes off to college, excited about the prospect of actually being independent and having her musical talent recognized. Things soon fall apart beneath her, starting with the revelation that she did not get accepted into the music program.
Corey’s childhood trauma comes back in full force as she learns that she has nowhere to live– an error unnoticed by the college management. She does, however, make a friend named Emma who invites her to stay in her dorm; tensions in this situation rise as the two butt heads with Emma’s assigned roommate, Harper. Feeling unwanted and unmoored, Corey starts to have flashbacks to her former foster homes, her grades begin to slip, and her relationships falter. Though her knee-jerk reaction is to keep trudging through on her own– she slowly realizes that maybe she needs and deserves the support system that has been trying to get through to her all along, and that she doesn’t have to be perfect in order to have value. She allows herself to learn, and therefore truly grow– not only within understanding herself, but also being more empathetic toward the struggles of others.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that this story will speak to kids and adults alike that have been through foster care. That was not my experience growing up, but that did not lessen the reading experience here for me. I know well what it’s like to try to handle things on my own; not trusting the helping hands reaching for me. I will never forget what I was told in therapy– “We’re pack animals. The human species is not meant to go without interaction”. Of course, this was offered advice about the stressors of the pandemic, but it also applies here. I think this is a beautiful book about coming into your own but accepting the help of others who have your best interests at heart. Doing this very thing saved my life, and I think it completely turned Corey’s around. The best thing is that it’s never too late to do so. Whether it be when you’re 18 or 29, you can always build that foundation of support that will keep the house of your life from completely collapsing.
The Debut Author:
Morgan Vega earned her BA in English from Bridgewater College and MA in Writing, Rhetoric & Technical Communication from James Madison University. She worked in higher education for seven years before transitioning into the publishing industry. Morgan interned at Kore Press, worked as an editor at Scarsdale Publishing, and now does marketing for No Starch Press. Morgan grew up and lives in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. When she’s not writing, Morgan’s freelance editing and talking about books on social media. Sleeping Around is her debut novel.