Published: May 5th, 2015 by: Viking Juvenile
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Ficton
Format: ebook Source: Library
My Rating: 4.5 Stars Add To Goodreads
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
I was gonna bring you mini reviews of the last 3 Dessen titles that I read, but decided this one deserves its own post. I have at least 2 more of her books to read (I think), but I’m just gonna go ahead and say this may be my favorite of her books. I absolutely love this story, the characters, and of course the setting of Lakeview. This story covers a lot of stuff that people deal with in the real world, which is why I connected with it so well. Well, not the drunk driving brother who almost killed a pedestrian, but all the other things…..yeah, I got it. I won’t go over the synopsis (please read it), but rather what I liked and disliked.
What I Liked
We have another misunderstood teen girl, whose brother is the favorite of the family, it seems. Even with him being in prison, he is front and center of the household. The only way that Sydney can try to cope with what he did is leave her old school (life) behind and start anew. I love how Dessen brings her characters to life. Sydney both made me proud and annoyed me. Only, my annoyance isn’t really warranted because I’ve been there. I realized how hypocritical it was of me to scream at her to open her mouth. She made me proud by making friends and opening up to them; even when she was scared to do those things with her old friends. Layla and Mac get Sydney, and she holds on tight to that feeling of being understood.
The friendships portrayed in this story are pretty much the same in all of Dessen’s novels; two girls from different walks of life become best friends, best friend befriends brother, soon best friend and brother fall in love. I love the familiarity of the writing. I didn’t get many feels from this, since there was really a lot of “heavy” going on, but I do like the direction that it went by the time the end rolled around.
In the end, I love how Sydney and Peyton worked out what was bothering them. And to think, Sydney had the wrong impression of him for so long. I was overjoyed when Peyton finally made his mom see the light a little. I get that she supports her son, but she was acting as if he was away at college and not in prison for paralyzing someone.
Dessen showed how a family cares for each other and it gives readers insight into what may go on in other families. The Chatham family is like a mirror image of my past and present. My mother was my top priority in high school and afterwards, so Layla and Mac became me and my brother. It was really scary to be inside this book, bringing back those memories. Instead of cancer like my mom had, the Chatham family deals with their mom’s MS (multiple sclerosis). I’m not sure how familiar any of you are with Transverse Myelitis, but it is almost identical to MS, and that’s what my sister has. So to say that I know the scares of the complications that the disease causes that family, would be a big understatement. Again, it was scary with how much of my life was reflected in this book. I guess that’s why I love it so much.
What I Disliked
Julie, Sydney’s mom, was not a favorite of mine. First of all, I really don’t like the way she rarely paid any attention to the girl. Secondly, she refused to see the damage that her son caused. It was always excuse after excuse. And thirdly, the way she was so keen on letting Ames stay with Sydney while she and her husband went out of town, was the final straw. OMG, guys, this made me so heated! Ames is Peyton’s best friend, and he has Julie wrapped around his finger. Ames is creepy and always staring at Sydney, so she doesn’t want to be alone with him. Of course, her mom doesn’t see any of this because she’s too busy organizing for Peyton’s prison visits! It made me so angry whenever he was in the picture. I just…..I can’t even really get into why this freaked me the hell out. I just really understood Sydney a lot throughout this book. Ames is a slimy snake and I really hate him.
Yes. A million times yes! I may be biased because so much of this book reminded me of what I’ve been through. I would like to think that it’s just an amazing story altogether, and Dessen gives you her best. However, if you are a Dessen virgin, I suggest starting with one of her more lighter novels to break you in. This one carries a lot of weight, and it may not be the lighthearted, feel-good story that you are looking for. Still, you should absolutely read this book!
Also by this author: The Moon and More | Keeping the Moon / Along for the Ride | The Truth About Forever | What Happened To Goodbye | Lock and Key