Then and Now: The Ivy by Lauren Kunze

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The first of a four book series, The Ivy focuses on Callie Andrew’s first semester at Harvard. Lauren Kunze, with her friend Rina Onur, started this series while students at Harvard. They refuse to admit how much of the plot actually happened 😉

Christy first read this book series in 2014 while actually sitting in Harvard Yard. She went to Harvard for graduate school and loved being able to see the places mentioned. While the characters are undergrads, she cannot comment on how accurate dorm life/social clubs/extracurriculars are. But, the way the campus is described is super accurate! It’s completely true that Hahvahd Yahd (in Bostonian) is worth a trip. Word of advice, go in the summer!

Claire first read this series 2014 and immediately swooned over Gregory Bolton, one of the two love interests. 

Also, this is the first college YA series we ever read and we credit it for starting the trend. 

Callie moves from sunny LA to Cambridge, MA to start her first year of college. Things are more complicated than she thought. It’s not just about good grades. The elite social scene causes challenges she never imagined.

First, there are her three roommates. Vanessa, the socialite from Manhattan, Mimi, the French starlet and Dana, the conservative from middle of nowhere South Carolina. 

Then, throw in the complicated guys from across the hall, and things get crazy. Gregory is the hot bad boy, who has some hidden depth. OK, a Nigerian prince who the press follows, Matt the geek guy next door and Adam, who is pretty much the male version of Dana, are Gregory’s roommates. Put these eight students together and there is bound to be drama.

Add in Clint, the upperclassmen who has his eye on Callie. Then, his evil, yet beautiful ex-girlfriend, Alexis. She’s Queen Bee, wealthy and determined to ruin Callie’s freshmen year. 

Here Callie thought she’d have a normal start to college, but add in the gorgeous guys, the frenemies and the fact that she’s being invited to join the Hasty Pudding and Harvard is like stepping into another planet. 

Then

The idea of a YA book set in college sounded amazing. College is overlooked both in TV shows and books so we advocate for people to talk about this strange transition. You’re not a kid, not quite an adult. It’s bound for craziness and a few missteps. 

We liked that Callie’s character was realistic, considering all her friends are either from foreign countries or the East Coast. Plus, they pretty much all have more money. Callie balances classwork, a job, COMP and an attempt at a social life.

We also loved how college was portrayed. It was pretty realistic and highlighted the difficulties of fitting in with a new crowd after high school. It was interesting to hear Callie’s take on her friends’ extravagant lifestyles. 

Gregory Bolton also made us fall for this series. The hot guy next door? Yes! Gregory was brooding and definitely had hidden depth. While he came off as an ass, we knew he had a heart of gold and we were left swooning through the entire series. His chemistry with Callie was incredible, and you guys know we live for witty banter. We distinctly remember hating Clint. He was the worst and when you add in his obnoxious ex, we hated him even more. The thought the love triangle was tolerable, all things considered. We also loved the group dynamic. Each character had their unique qualities and made the group better.

Now

Wow, this series was even better than we remembered! Callie steps on to campus disillusioned about what college will be like and at first, falls flat on her face.

There was a lot we forgot about this series–mainly, how intellectual it is and that shouldn’t be a surprise, it is Harvard. Unlike some books/TV shows/movies where the character is a student, Callie actually goes to class. She talks a lot about two in particular, Justice (Moral Reasoning) and The Nineteenth Century Novel. Get ready to nerd out!

Also, this book is funny! We forgot how much we loved the fun intros to each chapter, which are articles from FM Magazine or group chat conversations. Callie is also hilarious. She’s definitely not perfect, but we were cheering her on as she navigated her messy social life.

The best part: the characters! Years later, Gregory Bolton still made us swoon, while Clint still got on our nerves. Ugh, stop wearing those sweater vests and stand up to your crazy ex-girlfriend. Alexis, is the villain you love to hate. Without giving too much away, she really is everything wrong with the 1 percent wrapped into a single person.

But the best character, Mimi! She speaks Franglish half the time and doesn’t understand American slang. Plus, despite her antics, she’s wicked smart and will leave you laughing on the floor. 

The other characters add to the plot and make this first semester unforgettable! Plus, you’ll love all the traditions, including the famous Harvard-Yale game. 

Final Verdict

This book was 5 stars in 2014 and 5 stars now! The romance, plot and drama make this college YA a must for anyone. Excuse us, we have to go finish the rest of this series now because the next three books are even better than the first!

33 thoughts on “Then and Now: The Ivy by Lauren Kunze

  1. It sounds like you really enjoy this book. I read a lot of ya books to share with my students so I will have to add it to my reading list. You are right about them rarely being set in college.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to add this to my list to read. I love books like this! It’s true that there isn’t a lot of representation of the transition from high school to college.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your review! I have read very little, if any books based in College and reading this review has me wanting to pick up this book straight away. I feel I’d be exactly like Callie if I had gone to college and knowing there was a group of good looking guys in the dorm across from min probably meant I would have been ten times as awkward! I’ll be adding this book to my reading list. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting! I never really considered that there aren’t a lot of books set during college! Thanks for the review, this sounds like a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

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