Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills: My Review of this High School Romance

Check out my Dear Ava book review to see if this Ilsa Madden-Mills book about teen romance is one worth reading. It’s a steamy, emotional read that is deserving of all the popularity that it’s garnered.

*Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Affiliates program so if you click an affiliate link I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills is a heart wrenching new adult romance that will surely tug on your heart strings. Read the full book review by popular romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.

Dear Ava
Ilsa Madden-Mills

Category: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance
Tags: Enemies to Lovers, High School, Tortured Hero, Strong Heroine

Kindle | Paperback

Rating: ★★★★★

Dear Ava is quite a special teen romance book that will have you feeling so deeply for characters who have seen and struggled with way more than anyone ever should during their eighteen years of life.

Yet despite their struggles, this book highlights two very strong people whose bravery, character and fortitude rival that of many adults.

I’ll admit that I was very hesitant to read Dear Ava because I typically do not read books that deal with any type of assault or abuse (that’s not a spoiler as you learn this in the very first chapter).

But I honestly was sucked in by the book blurb and knew that Madden-Mills can write one heck of a book, so I went for it and am so glad that I did.

Yes, this book highlights some very serious tragedies that affect many of the characters, but Madden-Mills wrote two amazing characters who not only rise from their adversity but ultimately thrive together because of it.

What I Loved

The best romance books are those whose characters really captivate. They have amazing depth to them that has you hooked to learn even more.

What makes this person tick? Would I behave the same in their shoes? Do I have the bravery and courage that they seem to showcase on a daily basis in this story? These were questions I kept asking myself as I read this book.

Ava and Knox, on paper, are complete opposites.

She’s an orphan, on scholarship and working to support herself. She’s alone.

Knox is captain of the football team, has a group of popular friends, is tight with his twin brother and has more money than he could possibly need.

But really, these two are so much alike:

  • They are fighters
  • They are so strong
  • They have seen and lived through more than anyone should by age 18
  • They love fiercely and will do anything for those they love

Although this story took place when they were seniors in high school, this didn’t seem like an average young adult/new adult romance book.

I’m normally not drawn to high school romance as I’m so past that age but these two were so mature and the story really reflected that.

I will say that I expected a bit more note-sharing or secret texting given the book blurb. I loved the honesty, vulnerability, and love for Ava that was shared in these tidbits but those that were included in the book were enough.

Madden-Mills deserves so much praise for the feelings and angst she portrayed in this story. I don’t enjoy heavy topics with my romance but when the story is so well written and the themes so thoughtfully explored, I want to thank the author wholeheartedly.

I really don’t want to go more into the plot as I don’t want to spoil anything. Just trust me in saying that this was such a well-written, moving book that you will feel so grateful after that you read it.

Do you have a favorite Ilsa Madden-Mills book? Share in the comments below.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills is a heart wrenching new adult romance that will surely tug on your heart strings. Read the full book review by popular romance book blogger, She Reads Romance Books.
Leslie Murphy is the owner and writer of She Reads Romance Books.

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Leslie is the founder, writer, and producer of She Reads Romance Books (and the She Reads Romance Books Podcast), an online book community focused on romance books and the readers who love them because life is better with a love story.

Leslie reads 150 romance books a year and has been called a "book expert" by CNN. Reading romance is her passion and she cultivates her book lists with the best books worth reading in the genre. Leslie graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College where she honed her writing skills and also holds two Master's degrees. Join her community in the She Reads Romance Books Reader Lounge.

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2 thoughts on “Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills: My Review of this High School Romance”

  1. This sounds like an interesting book, for sure. I too like characters who are crafted well–strong, brave and inspiring the reader to take charge of their own life.
    Thank you for the review!


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