By: Abbi Glines
Published By: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
In my head I was thinking this was going to be a grittier version of Friday Night Lights. I was expecting some damaged characters based on the description, but also a healthy dose of football, high school drama, and romance. I have to admit that I was disappointed. There is certainly plenty of damaged characters and high school drama, but football takes a backseat and the romance didn't appeal to me.
The story is told from two perspectives. West Ashby is the town golden boy - he's smart, a star athlete, and the guy every girl in town wants to date. On the surface West has it all, but underneath he's hiding a pain that threatens to rip his world apart. West can't handle the fact that his father is dying from cancer. Instead of leaning on the support of his friends, he chooses to keep it a secret. His mom is the only one who knows the extent of what West is dealing with at home and she is too distraught to provide him much comfort. West begins to lash out in subtle ways. He chooses to be a giant jerk to pretty much everyone and starts using girls left and right. West is not an easy guy to like. I felt empathy for his situation with his dad, but it didn't give him the right to be such a disgusting guy. He is crude and objectifies women. Yes, West is a dynamic character so he will become more likable by the end, but it took a long time for me to tolerate him without eye rolls and disgust.
The second main character, Maggie Carleton, is a character I gravitated to immediately. Maggie, like West, has some pretty intense emotional baggage that no teenager should ever have to carry. Maggie's father murdered her mother in front of her. For obvious reasons, Maggie has a lot of emotional turmoil going on. She has chosen not to speak since the day she told police what she witnessed. Her silence is a way to protect herself from the prying questions of others. At the beginning of the novel, Maggie moves to Lawton, Alabama to live with family. She hopes a new start with her aunt, uncle, and cousin can help her begin to heal. I enjoyed the dynamic between Maggie and her family, but I was a bit over the super overprotective macho vibe from Brady.
Maggie never expects for her world to collide with West's, but the two lost souls find a safe harbor in the other. In one another, they are able to find a support system that they didn't realize existed. While I understood why they gravitated towards each other, I felt like a lot of their relationship was dysfunctional. Instalove reared its ugly head and they both got too clingy too quickly. West's jealousy issues made him more scary than hot.
I really struggled with how to rate and review this one. There were some elements I enjoyed, but a lot of the novel felt repetitive and slow. I also wasn't overly impressed with Glines' writing style. This one felt like a lot more telling than showing. It was around the 60% mark that I hit my reading stride and begin to enjoy the story more. I went back and forth between rating this a 2 or a 3. Ultimately, I decided that the parts I liked were strong enough to warrant the 3, but I will say that I am undecided on whether this is a series I will continue reading. I know lots of people love Glines' writing so I'm hoping one of her other novels will appeal to me more than this one.
One Last Gripe: The male attitude towards females in this novel churned my stomach. It felt like watching predators size up pieces of meat.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Maggie's transition - I was so proud to see her stand up for herself!
First Sentence: This wasn't home.
Favorite Character: Nash
Least Favorite Character: Raleigh and Serena tie for this honor.
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.
Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…