I picked up this book because it was recommended to fans of Sarah Dessen, but I have to say that was a bit of a misleading comparison. Dessen’s characters face big problems and make mistakes, but they do actually grow and learn from their experiences. I didn’t feel like that was the case in this book. I gave it three stars.
Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.
Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.
While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.
As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
I was all about believing Harper could put the brakes on the behavior and choices that kept making her life a spiral of suck. I believed and believed until I just couldn’t any more. This protagonist made excuses for her messes and other characters made excuses for her messes (even while they were telling her that she was selfish), and even when the book came to a close, I had a pretty good idea she would be back to her old bad habits in a few weeks. I just didn’t see the growth, and I felt like her romantic interest was a sucker in the end. My second problem was that this storyline included a rift in the relationship between Harper and her parents that is complicated by her mother’s cancer diagnosis. I felt like this ended up being an accessory subplot because there really wasn’t a feeling of resolution or development in terms of that issue. Her parents came off as suckers, too, and that was disappointing. I do think that there are readers who will connect with this character because in real life, there are lots of people who can’t seem to get themselves under control, but I’m not sure if there is really a message or hope in these pages. This is a perfectly adequate contemporary YA surface read, but I really wanted to see more character growth, and I think most of my high school readers will as well. Language and situations including sensuality and drugs make this a read for grades 9+.
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.