Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
February 3, 2015
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If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.What if all you had wanted, all you had worked at least four years for was within reach? Then, what if something you couldn't ignore, something that demands you notice, puts all of that in jeopardy?
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
Skylar is going to get out of Creek View. She isn't going to be one of those girls who stays in town, never going anywhere or being anything - she isn't going to live her mother's life. Skylar and one of her two best friends, Chris, even made a pact to ensure they both made it out of Creek View. They kept each other focused, they got the right grades, now they're both off to college in the fall.
The pact also involves no romance, though because, "Of course, romance was bad for GPAs," (pg 44). While that part wasn't hard to stick to pre-graduation, now, with her departure a few weeks away, it's the part of the pact Skylar may break.
Josh Mitchell is just back from Afghanistan. Home after losing his leg in an explosion, he's not the boy Skylar remembers. The 'It Boy' things revolved around in high school, Josh is still surrounded by people now that he's home, but it isn't working. The things he's seen, the friends he's lost don't allow him to be that carefree, boy of just a few years ago.
As they work together at the Paradise motel, something brings them together.
Skylar's determination to get out of Creek View, to go to art school, was unquestionable. It impacted her decision making and all of her work seems to have paid off: she has a plan, an exit date. Her desire to leave gives her a goal, it 's something that makes her different from almost everyone else in town. And being so committed to leaving causes her to question herself later.
It's right for her, sure, but is it the right thing to do? When people she cares about may need her, is leaving really the right thing? Can she really do it?
As Josh makes his way into Skylar's life - and becomes one of those people - Demetrios does a superb job with his character and story. He left Creek View a 'cocksure' guy, always at the center of things, with people - girls - around and up to something. His time as a Marine, in Afghanistan has changed him. The author does a really, really great job with Josh and his memories of the war, how it shaped who he now is. There's the 'bad,' of course, the injuries, the death, the destruction. But there's also the 'good,' the time with friends, the lighter moments.
How their two characters come together: Skylar whose life with her mother isn't easy but who is counting the days until she can leave and Josh who can't seem to fit back into his old life, who isn't sure who he is now. Their personalities are (so) different, their experiences and expectations are different, yet they fit.
There's Skylar, her plans, her relationships with Dylan, Chris, even Marge, her past and how it still pulls at her, her indecision and then Josh with his confusion, his injury, his hurt and depression. Obviously, their relationship is not light and fluffy but it's real and complicated. It's confusing, emotional and difficult. But it, the characters, their relationships, their pasts, their possible futures, all combine for a powerful book (and characters) you're not likely to forget.
received for review from publisher, via NetGalley