My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Liked this book a lot but didn’t get the feels I was hoping for…sorry.
This was my first book by Jennifer L. Armentrout and having heard so many great things about her I wanted to love this so much. I haven’t always had the best relationship with YA contemporary stories but I thought for sure that this book would be packed full of emotion. Unfortunately however I just didn’t feel it.
It deals with some really difficult and uncomfortable issues and I think handles them in a responsible and very genuine way. While there is a lot going on, abuse, PTSD, drug dealing, loss and bullying it’s written in such a way as to make it seem very realistic (although I don’t have much experience of most of it).
Main character Mallory (aka Mouse) was raised in an abusive foster home where she learned that the best way to keep out of trouble is to keep out of sight and keep quiet. While it’s 4 years later and she’s in a new and supportive home and has had lots of counselling she still doesn’t like to talk and prefers to avoid notice. Having been home schooled for the past few years she decides it’s time to face her fears and go to school.
It comes as a big surprise though when she bumps into Rider, the boy who used to try to protect her and who she hasn’t seen since a terrible event set them on different paths. He resumes his role as her protector but they’re both older now and things have changed. They come from different worlds so despite their shared past they may not have a future.
It was definitely interesting reading a book with a main character like Mallory. I haven’t come across many books where the main character doesn’t say much and is afraid of pretty much everything. I felt so sorry for her but still occasionally found myself getting frustrated with her and just wishing she would speak up for herself rather than letting others push her around and make decisions for her. I loved how she developed over the course of the story but I also liked how there was no instant cure. The one part I could really relate to was the social anxiety, the fear of having to go into a big group of people, to have to stand up and speak in front of others and I thought the author portrayed this very well.
Rider was possibly the sweetest guy ever and I think I fell a little bit in love with him. He did have the bad boy thing going but his reaction in seeing Mallory and at a couple of other points did ever so slightly break my heart.
Where I think my issue lay, was the relationship between them. Yes it was quite sweet, but I didn’t feel any real spark between them and in a book where the relationship is the central part of the story that’s a problem. I didn’t feel myself rooting for them so while I kind of hoped they’d get together and sort everything out it wouldn’t have been the end of my world if they hadn’t.
My other main criticism is the length. At 480 pages it’s a little on the long side. If it had really grabbed me it wouldn’t have been an issue but for me it did feel long. The writing is good but I did find there was an over emphasis in getting the very positive message across. I’m a little older than the target audience and have become quite cynical and negative in my old age so maybe it’s just me and younger readers will find it more inspirational.
I think if you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover and Sarah Dessen this book will be perfect for you. However it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.