Author: Christa Desir
Page Count: 288
Published: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
4.5 Stars ★★★★
Gannon is having a lot of problems in her life. Her best friend seems to only be using her for cigarettes, her parents are too busy dealing with her unruly adopted brothers, and she cuts herself. Her life seems boring and she feels misunderstood, until she meets Brooks. Brooks is different than anyone she has ever spent time with before. He seems to see the real Gannon, and soon she finds herself craving his presence.
What starts as an attraction turns into a romance, but this romance is truly bittersweet. Brooks is dealing with problems of his own, and soon Gannon finds herself falling not only for Brooks, but for his manipulative tactics and dangerous life choices.
In the end, this novel was heartbreaking for me, on several levels. I knew that it would deal with some tough subjects, but I had no idea that I would care for the characters as much as I ended up caring for them.
Gannon is struggling so much, and her problems mirror those of real-life teenagers, which really struck me. Her issues were presented in an authentic way which made the portrayal of family problems and cutting all the more realistic. Gannon was broken inside, but she was likeable and my heart ached for her.
I kind of feel like I was supposed to hate Brooks, but I didn't. I was just so sad for him. I guess he's kind of the "villain" in this book, but I didn't buy into that role for him at all. He was just as hurt and broken as Gannon, his issues just manifested in a different way. While Gannon turned to self harm, Brooks did as well, to a lesser extent. His involvement with drugs was another problem that he faced, which as with the cutting, appeared to be portrayed in a sincere way too.
I liked both of the main characters. I could see good in them, beyond their unfortunate life choices, and I think one of the saddest parts about this book is that their story could have gone a whole other way. While the author approached their relationship as something destructive and harmful, it made me sad that, in theory, they actually could've been really good for each other, and helped each other overcome their various problems. That was the real tragedy of this book. It showed the ways that peoples' everyday relationships and actions can go horribly wrong, when there was so much potential for things to go right.
I won't spoil the ending, but I am surprised that I didn't cry at the end. I usually get emotional incredibly easily over books, but somehow I managed to keep it together. I think that was because I was so engrossed in this book, the writing style made it easy to read for long periods of time, and before I knew it, I had flipped to the last page.
I do take a bit of an issue with the portrayal of alternative, goth, or punk people within the book. Gannon and Brooks, along with mentions of smoking alternative types, were of the goth, punk, or otherwise "different" variety. Often, I see these types of people portrayed negatively, in fiction and in reality, and I'm kind of tired of constantly seeing the stereotype of the out-of-control, emotionally unstable alternative person everywhere I go. Certainly there are alternative, goth, and punk people like this in real life, however, I wish that the author had balanced out the representation of people in these subcultures with more positive characters in the scene, as well. This is a minor complaint, but I had to mention it.
Over all, this was an emotional read with depictions of real-life problems. While I had a few minor issues, the writing style was immersive and I loved the characters, which kept me reading on.
I recommend this book to fans of YA contemporary stories. If you're interested in emotional books about self harm and family problems, this book is for you.