Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.
Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?
Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
NOTE: I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Before reading this book, I wanted to pick up a nice feel-good contemporary book with a love interest that would make me want to swoon. Imagine my surprise when I cried halfway through reading this book. That’s right, guys. I cried during this book. The emotional roller coaster that this book put me through was something that I was not anticipating whatsoever. I honestly had no idea how to cope with the idea that I was crying for a fictional character (I rarely cry for books or movies or TV shows. Just so you know, I did cry for Flat-Out Love though).
At first, this book is not what it seems to be. By reading the summary, you really get no accurate idea of what this book is about. From reading the part where Wiess captures “the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss,” I totally thought the main girl Rowan was going to get raped by somebody (namely Justin from the beginning) and then she was going to have to deal with the emotional trauma of being violated. But as soon as the scene went from happy-go-lucky just-got-busted-skipping-school Rowan’s point of view to I’m-a-cop and I’ve-seen-bad-things Rowan’s dad’s point of view, I knew that this book was about way more than just the woes of being a sixteen year old girl.
I really don’t know how to explain this book without giving major spoilers away. (I read a review of this book halfway through my own reading of it, and I got very mad because the entire plot was spoiled for me in a review marked no spoilers.) But even though the big “twist” was spoiled for me, I was still very shocked and saddened when the twist occurred.
spoilers are the STDs of the book world. Protect yourself. If you have a spoiler, be responsible and warn your reading partners.
— Lauren DeStefano (@LaurenDeStefano) January 26, 2014
I loved the romance in this book between Rowan and Eli. It was very innocent and seemingly realistic. Things weren’t rushed and them sharing a feeling of emotional loss wasn’t an incentive for them to hook up. No, they got together and hung out on their own time regardless of what was going on around them. The fact that they had that emotional loss in common was what really kept them together in those three months where Rowan was holed up in her shell, I think.
One thing I didn’t really enjoy about this book, though, was the pacing. I get that this a contemporary read and it’s supposed to be slow and steady…but I just really wanted some action to go on. I wanted something big to happen, and it just didn’t. (Well, you know, until 50% in.) This isn’t that big of a deal to me, but I wish that every chapter kept me thoroughly engaged, which didn’t happened. I have to admit though that after the prologue (which I totally thought was chapter one…) was over, I was really interested. Sadly, things slowed down about 20% in.
In all, this was an enjoyable read, and it really tug at my heartstrings (does such a thing exist?). I really can’t put my emotions into words when describing my feelings. I think if you enjoy a nice, thoughtful read (think Looking for Alaska, Thirteen Reasons Why, I Will Save You, etc.) then this is the book for you. Be sure to pick this up when it hits the shelves in two weeks because, holy cow did this book make me feel things.