Whether you are looking for a good laugh or a cheesy meet-cute, The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody, offers the perfect combination of romance and humor intertwined with grief and tragedy. The novel explores a teenager’s journey to coping with losing her best friend, Lottie, on the one-year anniversary of her death. A severe snowstorm traps Ryn, the protagonist, inside of the Denver International Airport on the way back to her hometown. It is discovered early on that Ryn has one unread text message on her cellphone from Lottie that she sent right before her accident. When Ryn quite literally runs into a fellow stranded passenger named Xander, the pair accidentally switch cellphones leaving Ryn to race to get her phone back before the stranger opens her unread text message.
Because of the journey of uncertainty, Ryn is forced to learn how to cope with the fact that her friend is really gone and also get outside of her comfort zone by confronting Xander to try to retrieve her phone. Once in contact with Xander, Ryn discovers the message is still very much unread and the tension slowly simmers down. With nothing else to do, Ryn and Xander explore the airport while learning things about each other along the way. They discover they have a lot more in common than they thought, and the readers get to follow along on the back-and-forth banter between the two. The plot still remains rather heavy, as there are several flashbacks from Ryn’s time with Lottie, but the novel ties in the lightheartedness as a nice balance. The flashbacks give insight into Ryn and Lottie’s friendship, so it is like a mystery is slowly being unraveled throughout the book, and the readers are taken along on the journey.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel and the way it depicted therapy, grief, and unexpected situations. Was it a bit impractical? Maybe so. I don’t really expect for strangers to meet at an airport and get swept away on a distracting adventure right when it is needed most. However, it was just practical enough to still enjoy reading. There were moments when I wanted to shake the main character for her coping mechanisms, but I think that made the book even more realistic. It was an easy read and kept me entertained through its entirety, so I would recommend it if you enjoy a light young adult romance novel with some darker plot elements. It felt like a summer beach novel set in the winter season.
If you do decide to pick up this book, I hope you enjoy the read. As always, send me some book recommendations!