Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Page Count: 306
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Spending time in Hundred Oaks is one of my favorite ways to pass the time. It's one of those settings that I love filled with interesting and realistic characters. I always try to read these slowly and savor them, but it's impossible. This one took me less than twenty four hours.
Annie is getting ready to graduate, but her Senior year has been clouded by grief. Her boyfriend, Kyle, was killed in a tragic accident in October. She hasn't been able to move past that fateful evening when Kyle was taken from her. Annie isn't sure how she's going to get through life without him, but each day she reminds herself to put one foot in front of the other and keep breathing. Things start to change when Annie decides to train to run a marathon in Nashville that Kyle was planning to run. This will be her way to honor their relationship and his memory.
I felt that Annie's tribute to Kyle was sweet and it allowed her to stretch her broken wings a bit. Matt, from Things I Can't Forget, becomes her running coach and his expertise comes along with hot younger brother, Jeremiah. The chemistry between Annie and Jeremiah happens from the first moment these two meet. I loved watching their attraction develop and the banter between these two. Annie and Jeremiah are exactly what the other needs to soothe their aching soul. While their chemistry is instantaneous, the relationship develops at a pace that made sense. Annie and Jeremiah were friends before they moved things along. I do think it should be noted that this novel veers into New Adult territory as far as the intimacy goes. Annie is eighteen and part of the novel takes place once she starts college. It's realistic and didn't bother me, but I know some readers are more sensitive to those elements.
The running in this novel was intriguing and inspiring. If Annie can go from hating running to marathon ready, surely I could do it with the same amount of training and effort. I doubt I'd ever be as awesome as Matt and Jeremiah though.
The themes of grief and guilt dominate Annie's story. Both of these emotions are necessary evils to the human condition. We've all felt grief and guilt at some point in our lives. I found that Kenneally's portrayal of them was accurate; I liked that she made a point to showcase that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In addition, I loved the female friendships in this novel. I was particularly drawn to the one between Annie and Vanessa. It was a nice reminder that friends are just as important as romance.
As always, I was excited to see favorites from previous books show up. Jordan is still my favorite Hundred Oaks girl and she pops up more than once in this one. I do think Annie is now my second favorite Hundred Oaks resident.
I highly recommend you take a reading road trip to Tennessee to spend time with Annie and Jeremiah. Losing yourself in a Hundred Oaks novel is the best way to escape the stresses of life. Miranda Kenneally's novels always make my heart happy.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated that Annie and Kelsey let their friendship go without fighting for it.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The relationship between Annie and Jeremiah
First Sentence: As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever.
Favorite Character: Annie
Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one.
Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.