Published by HarperTeen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Amber has always been the good girl — the ones that stayed on the straight and narrow and who was determined to get out of her small town. But she hasn’t always felt really ALIVE until she starts going up to a hiking hangout spot with her best friend Devon where she gets to be whoever she wants and meet people who are just passing through. That feeling from the summer follows her into the school year and she starts to make some choices that make her wonder if she’s that good girl everyone thinks she is. She also pursues an opportunity that would take her out of this town and away from her problems in the form of a music program at a high school for the arts in a big city a couple hours away and the boy who helps her practice makes things even more complicated in her life.
This one grew on me! I was thinking it was alright at first and then I got to a point wherein I’d go to read for 20 minute before bed and suddenly I was done with half the book. Repeat the next night. By the time I finished I could feel my rating meter down below moving up a bit.
1. I loved the small town setting and think the author NAILED it: You might not know this about me but from the time I was born until 7th grade I grew up in a VERY small town in the middle of nowhere, PA and it felt so much like this town. I’m not saying ALL small towns are like this..but this nailed my old town — from the way everyone knows each others business, to the way they speak/some narrow thinking, to the hopeless/stuck feeling one can feel especially when they have bigger dreams, etc. Some of the characters could have absolutely been people I knew. It kind of made me sad thinking about the girls I knew who ended up like Amber’s sister and feel trapped. But as much as it made me feel sad for some of the people who got too caught up in the things of a small town, I love that it gave me the warm and fuzzies about small town livin — I always wanted to get out of there and I felt so superior when I did…and then suddenly as an adult when I’d go to visit my dad I began to appreciate a small town! I really related to Amber in that way and I’m proud of my roots!
2. The romance was so cute: It’s a romance trope I always kind of love when I see it — the best friend’s older brother. Maybe it’s because I totally had a crush on a best friend’s brother? PERHAPS. I loved Will (and hey he shares a name with my husband so even better) and I loved their relationship even though I know that there’s something in this book that might make people not ship them. It’s something I HATE but I don’t know…I think I’m a little more forgiving in high school about it because it’s that time to make bad decisions/mistakes, learn and grow.
3. I loved this exploration of how our mistakes define us: So in this book, Amber makes a BIG colossal, totally not HER decision. She knows it’s wrong and immediately regrets it. But this thing…it makes her question what kind of person she is and if she’s just going to end up destined to become this person she didn’t want to be. I loved that her mistake had BIG consequences and felt like it was handled very realistically. As a reader, you are like WHAT ARE YOU THINKING WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS. It made me think of how many times in my life I’ve had some bad judgement calls that were not in line with who I was/thought I was.
4. FAMILY MATTERS: As someone who has had a semi-dysfunctional family at various points through my childhood and adulthood, I could relate! I loved watching some of the family issues play out even though they made my heart ache. It all felt so realistic and well done!
Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or I’d reread it, no.
readers who want small town settings, readers who like main characters who are into music (lots of music in this book!), readers who don’t mind main characters who are flawed and get into some messy situations, contemporary YA readers who like a balance of cute and serious
While I wouldn’t say it was a book that really moved me, I really enjoyed the ride. I definitely grew to enjoy it more and more as I progressed and the plot really started to come together. I enjoyed the themes present in this novel and the setting tremendously. I definitely thought this one was going to be a bit lighter of a book but it did have some serious elements for sure and I’d say I was happy with what it was vs. what my expectations were.