Abbi Glines’ Seabreeze series was one of my favorites until it got too graphic and, frankly, rather gross. Because of Low is one of the most sought after books in my classroom library, and my high school readers want more from her, but I just haven’t been able to provide the books they wanted in good conscience. When I saw Glines was putting out a new YA series, I was excited. When I read the premise, I was almost girly in my glee – it sounded like a winner, but I have to say this isn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I gave it three stars because I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t spectacular.
Until Friday Night is publishing on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.
Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…
This isn’t quite as good as I had hoped. I think that readers are most drawn to Glines’ books when she creates a scenario where a girl who feels like she is nothing actually turns out to be so special that a very hot bad boy is absolutely willing to mend his ways just for her. It is a nice fantasy, and probably one that most girls have indulged in at some point in time. This really worked well in some of her Sea Breeze books, and a Until Friday Night attempts to recreate the magic, but it falls short because of one character – West. While most readers will find Maggie likeable enough, West is lacking some of the charm and depth it takes to convince readers that he is more than just a good looking guy. His horrible treatment of girls doesn’t jive with the love he has for his own mother and the admiration he has for his parents’ relationship. His father’s illness happened after he started treating girls like Kleenex, so that isn’t the hole he is trying to fill. He isn’t broken – he is just a jerk, so it is hard to see how Maggie is the something he needs to change his ways. His “reformation” feels insincere, and, honestly, their relationship is more therapy than romance. If West had been eased into our lives, I would have been more receptive, but it was probably a mis-step to lead the series with him. Unfortunately, West is the model that most of the male characters are patterned on in this book, and that means that Glines’ biggest strength, creating an irresistible community of characters that readers want to know more about, isn’t shown to great advantage, either. For the most part, the guys are fairly indistinguishable from each other with the exception of Nash, and he is the one character I care about seeing more of. There are no other girls in the book who aren’t there to stir up trouble, and I think that is a shame as well. That being said, it is well paced to keep readers engaged, and though I wasn’t always happy with what was happening, it is compelling. The premise behind this one is pretty interesting, and I was certainly curious to see how it would work out. I had an immediate like for Maggie’s narrative voice, and I wanted her to find something good to hold on to in her life. I might not have been convinced West was that thing, but I’m willing to bet that plenty of readers will be.
I am glad to say I will be able to put this book in my classroom library because the sensuality is scaled back enough that it is on par with other YA contemporary romances. While I didn’t care for the scenes myself, there is a clear effort to connect intimacy with an emotional attachment. There is a lot of cursing, but, again, we’ve seen it before in contemporary YA, so nothing too distressing. I think this book will appeal to my high school readers because this is the world they know – football, field parties, and pickup trucks, and the setting felt right. The drama is a little exaggerated, but you don’t read these books for the realism, so much as the emotion. In the end, I would read the next book in the series, if only in the hopes that I will find another gem like Because of Low.
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.