Monday, January 26, 2015

How To Make a Whole

 "In my essay for San Fran, 
I'd written about how I'd always felt like there was something magical about taking bits and pieces of the world around me 
and creating something whole.
It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, 
then it meant that everything had potential.
And maybe people were like collages--no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered."
--Heather Demetrios


Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Pages: 400
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

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.

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.
The Writing
Where do I begin with this? If you follow any other blog besides my own, it's okay I know you do :), then I'm sure you'll have already seen raving reviews about this book and all the 5 star reviews in the world on Goodreads. And if you're like me you're probably eyebrow raising thinking, 'ok, really? Is the book that good?' Trust me, nobody is more of a skeptic on all the 5 star ratings than me. And you'll probably already have high expectations of this book without meaning to, it's totally natural. However, I am here to urge you to not only read this book but seriously go into it with zero expectations. It's not that I don't think this book will live up to them, I truly think it will, but it's almost impossible to truly enjoy a story if you're expecting it to blow you mind. And I don't want that for you or this book. Why? Because this book is something. And by something, I mean real.

The writing of Heather Demetrios can only be described as real. The setting she takes us to, the characters she breaths life into, and the situations she writes about are so real that I felt like a longtime resident of Creek View. There is something completely underrated about an author's writing style that is simplistic yet poignant. Demetrios writing is not brimming with unnecessary details or analogies. It is simply beautiful in it's descriptions and makes you feel like you're sitting right next Sky in the overwhelming heat on a vinyl chair in the lobby of a motel. I can't describe it any more eloquently that this writing transpires you to this blink town and kind of makes you want visit. Who doesn't want a themed motel room?

The Characters
The characters of Skylar and Josh are just...brilliant? Amazing? Real? Yes, sorry not sorry I'm going to be redundant because if you take anything away from this review know that this story is raw and honest and just freaking incredible. Ok, anyways. Sky and Josh are two people from a small town who both want to get out. Josh did this by joining the Marines a few years earlier and Sky can't wait until September when she can go to Art School in San Francisco. Josh is recently home from Afghanistan after losing his leg and obviously that has a big impact on his life post-war. Sky and Josh worked together and the Paradise motel and ever since Josh has been back Sky has been looking at him in a different way. Sky is not into the party scene or becoming a "typical" Creek View girl so she's always felt like an outsider. Love this about her! I love that she doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't do anything that could compromise her future. She is so driven and artistic and smart. I love her desire to do great things and she doesn't let her circumstances hold her back...for the most part. See below.

Sky and Josh are both dealing with their own personal issues and what was beautiful is how they reluctantly but let the other person help them. Oh, it's a long road don't get me wrong but I loved the give and take of Josh needing a friend and then Sky needing help. Josh is dealing with the effects of his deployment and losing his leg. His PTSD was handled so well and was so realistic. I loved his short chapters as an insight into his head. I think that this gave the reader the perfect amount of what his feelings were and what he was going through. Without it, I think we would have lost a lot of the give and take of their relationship and how he dealt with his dark days. The voice of Josh was heard plain as day which is a huge writing feat because his chapters were always short and in that small amount of time we get to know what Josh is going through perfectly.

Sky is...Sky is a character I want to adopt as my new BFF. There is a lot my teenage and young adult self can relate to with Sky. The most poignant part of this book for me was when a certain situation happens (no spoilers). A situation where she was on cloud nine believing that something was finally going to work out in her favor...only to have is completely destroyed in one of the worst ways. That feeling of euphoria and believing in happiness only to be shot down *once again* is something I can unfortunately relate to and it broke my freakin' heart. So much. Demetrios captures Sky's emotions and despair in the perfect way. That situation was handled so excellently and I commend her for taking such a delicate situation and making it raw and honest and...yes, real.

The Plot
The arc of this story is just fantastic. I loved what Sky has to go through in order to spread her wings. What she goes through is NOT easy and she is so mature and such a great person. She is a fighter and a survivor and I cannot say enough about her. Josh's arc is equally painful and he makes mistakes. The overall plot of this story and where it goes was the perfect amount of believable conflict and made our characters grow. They learn a lot about themselves, forgiveness, compassion, everything. This is a story about growing up and learning that life isn't always what we anticipate and sometimes we get dealt a shit hand in life but it is overcoming those bad hands and being better.
It Ended
There are very few books that I am actually sad to see ended. I'm usually ready for a book to end, even if I loved it, because in the best case scenario there is a happy ending and our characters are okay. While no spoilers here, I just wanted more of Sky and Josh. This really isn't a negative but I would LOVE a cute little novella about them after the story ends. I'm a greedy reader, always have been always will be, and I would love more time with these characters.

Backstage Pass
If you love contemporary, post-war stories, coming of age plot lines, or just a really well-written story...this one's for you.


4 comments:

  1. You already know that I LOVED I'll Meet You There. It's seriously the best book I've read from Heather! She manages to bring to life these two characters, broken and raw and real, and make me fall in love with them. And the story she wraps around them? Perfection. Love this book!

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  2. YES YES YES. I'd absolutely describe this book as real. It's raw and brutal and honest and just punches you in the gut (in the best way possible). Like you, I was SO sad to see this one end! I'm so glad you loved it :) I think I'm gonna have to re-read it now...

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  3. I am REALLY looking forward to this one! So many of you all love it and I already have it preordered! I can't wait :)

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  4. I LOVED everything about this book. The character arcs and relationship arc were perfect. And YES this book was very REAL. I feel like I am glowing right now just thinking about my love for this book. Wonderful review!

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