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Welcome to my blog! My name is Kim and I write young adult paranormal, mysteries, and thrillers. This blog enables me to share the two things I love: Books and the craft of writing.

Ask the Girl is my debut novel. Murdered in 1925, Kate must seek the help of Lila and her sister to save her from her demon prison.

Book "Ask the Girl" by Kim Bartosch

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"Stepping Off" by Jordan Sonnenblick: A Tale of Love, Family, and Pandemic Struggles

I'm thrilled to bring you a review of "Stepping Off " by Jordan Sonnenblick published by Scholastic Press, which is a captivating new release that delves into the emotional upheaval of a teenager’s life during the COVID-19 pandemic. This review is part of a book tour sponsored by Rockstar Book Tours, and there’s an exciting book giveaway at the end—don’t miss your chance to win a copy of this incredible novel!

Book Banner for "Stepping Off" by Jordan Sonnenblick


My Review

In Stepping Off, Jordan Sonnenblick brings readers a poignant and relatable young adult novel that encapsulates the emotional rollercoaster of adolescence compounded by the unforeseen challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This heartfelt story, published by Scholastic Press, deftly explores themes of love, family discord, and the abrupt upheaval of daily life that many teens have faced in recent years.

The novel centers on Jesse Dienstag, a high school junior whose life is split between the vibrant chaos of New York City and the serene, seemingly unreal vacation-home community in Pennsylvania. Jesse’s favorite sweatshirt, emblazoned with "The real world isn't real," perfectly encapsulates his longing to escape the pressures of city life and school, and to immerse himself in the tranquility of Pennsylvania, where his heart is further complicated by his feelings for two girls.


The plot beautifully captures the essence of a teenager’s struggle to maintain normalcy amid growing family tensions and a global crisis. As Jesse's parents drift apart, their silence speaks volumes, leaving him to navigate the turbulent waters of his fractured home life. Sonnenblick masterfully portrays Jesse’s internal conflict and his desperate wish for his vacation-home slogan to be true.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hits in March 2020, Jesse’s carefully constructed dual lives collide in an unavoidable reality. The transition from the idyllic summer of 2019 to the lockdown in New York City is depicted with a raw and authentic touch, making the reader feel every bit of Jesse’s confusion and heartache.


Jesse Dienstag is a well-developed character whose relatable struggles and emotions anchor the story. His interactions with the two girls he loves, both in Pennsylvania, are poignant and authentic, reflecting the complexities of teenage relationships. The dynamic between these characters adds depth to the narrative, illustrating the beauty and pain of young love.


The settings of the novel—both the vacation-home community and New York City—are vividly described, creating a stark contrast that highlights Jesse’s internal conflict. The Fourth of July setting in Pennsylvania serves as a symbol of freedom and escape, which stands in sharp contrast to the restrictive atmosphere of pandemic-hit New York.

What I Liked

One of the standout aspects of Stepping Off is how Sonnenblick handles the impact of COVID-19 on a teenager’s life. The depiction is both sensitive and realistic, making it easy for other teens to relate to Jesse’s experience. The dynamic between Jesse and the two girls he loves adds an engaging layer to the story, making the reader invested in their journey. The Fourth of July setting adds a nostalgic and hopeful touch to the narrative.

What I Didn't Like

While the novel is compelling, there are moments where the plot drags slightly. Some scenes could have been tightened to maintain a more consistent pace. However, this minor issue does not significantly detract from the overall impact of the story.


Overall, Stepping Off by Jordan Sonnenblick is a four-star read that successfully captures the trials and tribulations of adolescence during an unprecedented time. With its relatable characters and authentic portrayal of the pandemic's impact, this novel is a must-read for teens and adults alike who are looking for a story that resonates with the challenges of our times.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Jordan Sonnenblick has once again proven his talent for creating deeply moving young adult fiction that reflects real-life issues with sensitivity and insight. Stepping Off is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of love and family.



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