Does this sounds like a disastrous combination to you:
a girl with repressed memories (Echo) + a good boy turned bad (Noah) + lots of counseling to “fix” them (Mrs. Collins)
I thought it was all kinds of right.
Echo used to be Miss Popularity but a secret event happened that caused her to become a recluse. She and her boyfriend, Jake, broke up and the majority of her friends have ditched her in favor of believing the rumors that circulate her mysterious absence from school after The Event. She’s a fractured girl with repressed memories of what actually happened that left her so badly scarred. She wears long sleeve shirts no matter the outdoor temperature. Her relationship with her father is strained and his remarriage to her pregnant ex-babysitter doesn’t help matters.
Noah is an all-star-athlete-turned-playboy. He lost his parents to a house fire and has bounced from foster home to foster home since then. His younger brothers aren’t allowed to live with him and he’s got limited interaction with them because he’s gotten into a few brawls at his foster homes. His good boy, all-star rapport is thrown out the window in favor of being a pot-smoking, sex machine who lives in the moment.
Echo wants to remember what happened. Noah wants to gain custody of his brothers. Both of them need the help of Mrs. Collins, the new school grief counselor, to work through their issues. She pairs below-average-Noah up with outstanding-student-Echo for tutoring. The two make a pact to help each other get the information they need from Mrs. Collins.
McGarry did a brilliant job of telling Echo and Noah’s story via their dual perspectives. She created two incredibly broken characters with a lot of baggage and very big issues and forced them together. Issues in young adult fiction can be a bit on the fluffy side, but I thoroughly enjoyed that McGarry took the plunge and didn’t take the easy way out with their journey. Echo and Noah were each other’s new beginnings – they were truthful and honest about their pasts – open about things that no one else knew. It only made sense that as they began to trust one another, they would fall in love (though not without a few bumps in the road).
To the reader, Echo and Noah’s pasts are somewhat vague. McGarry chose to use the first person perspective to allow us to experience Echo’s returning memories and all the details of Noah’s parent’s house fires along with them. Just as with counseling, there was a slow revelation of their complete history. I very much enjoyed the quiet progression because I couldn’t anticipate when the next big plot twist was going to happen.
Noah and Echo’s relationship definitely kept me intrigued until we found out more details. In the simplest of terms: their relationship was steamy. Noah had a reputation for having one night stands and never settling down, but Echo falls for him anyway. Noah realizes he’s one of the few people Echo opens up to and the glimpses we have of how incredible and awesome and swoon-worthy he is made me want to shout for Echo to GO FOR IT. McGarry got real – Echo needed someone who would be tender and kind to her in all of the ways her family had neglected to be.
I could continue to go on and on with my love for this beautifully broken love story, but I’m going to stop in favor of you taking a moment to pre-order this book so you can fall in love with Echo and Noah too.(less)
If you had the chance to make a wish and switch lives with someone else, would you?
The premise for Don’t You Wish is extremely interesting and vaguely reminiscent of fun movies like 17 Again and Freaky Friday. It brings about great topical questions like “Would you rather have the less-than-ideal reputation and a great family or loads of money and a broken, dysfunctional family?” Annie’s family was incredibly close, but her social status was well below average. She couldn’t get the boy she swooned over to give her the time of day (unless the popular crowd put him up to a sick prank). Ayla is the epitome of gorgeous and rules her school with a handful of minions trailing behind. Annie’s good-girl attitude doesn’t mesh well with the bad-girl reputation Ayla’s achieved.
Readers will experience a strong battle of moral conflict as Annie tries to figure out who she is trapped inside Ayla’s body. There’s no guarantee Annie will ever make it back “home.” She struggles with being the person Ayla was to continue to be popular or being the person she used to be that would cause her to lose her status at the top of the popularity ladder. The dilemmas and strife are what absorbed my attention: good versus evil, is it possible for people to change?, social norms versus status quo. I loved pondering the answers and rooting for Annie to make wise decisions.
It was when things got a little more technical and complicated as Annie tried to understand how she’d taken over Ayla’s body that I lost a bit of interest. The first half of the book felt incredibly fine-tuned and well-structured, but as soon as the physics jargon made an appearance, part of the intrigue was lost for me. Annie’s decision-making also seemed to lose its moral compass – she often felt so disconnected and didn’t know what she really wanted to do or who she wanted to be.
Part of the complication is a boy. Annie finally feels as if she’s found someone who understands her. He’s sarcastic and unselfish. How can she leave him behind when she’s just found him? Though I’m pretty sure I would be confused, too, I felt much more certain of my answers than Annie ever did.
There were a few loose ends at the end of the book that weren’t addressed at all. Some of the characters did not come full circle for me and there was little to no resolution in some respects. I turned the last page and thought, “BUT, WAIT!” because I couldn’t believe it was over. As of now, I see nothing that alludes to a sequel for Don’t You Wish. And while I had my issues and wanted things to be tied up perfectly, I do recommend that you give this a read. I especially feel teachers would find this a great discussion book in their classrooms.(less)
The Thing About the Truth revolves around the tense, abrasive relationship between Kelsey and Isaac. Ke...more[Review Originally Posted on Rather Be Reading]
The Thing About the Truth revolves around the tense, abrasive relationship between Kelsey and Isaac. Kelsey is, at heart, a really good girl. Isaac acts out to capture the attention of his self-centered politician dad. Isaac and Kelsey’s meeting is nothing short of awkward. They’re both new to the public school, but upon seeing Isaac, Kelsey makes quick judgments about the type of guy he is and writes him off. She wants to fly under the radar so she can focus on getting into an Ivy League school. She’s lost the trust and respect of her parents after what she did to get herself kicked out her prep school.
To prove she’s still got her act together, her solution is to start a new organization on campus. While she’s presenting her ideas, Isaac saunters into the room and throws out an idea the principal salivates over. Thus Kelsey and Isaac become the leaders and founders of the new group – spending more time together than either of them would have hoped for. The back and forth banter and constant arguments between these two are so good (so good so good). Clearly Kelsey is attracted to Isaac, but come on. She can’t be that girl and fall at the feet of this wealthy boy who has girls tripping over him. Isaac is drawn to her confidence and screw you attitude. The biggest dilemma is that while they’re pretty candid and honest with each other, Kelsey refrains from telling Isaac something pretty big.
The story navigates the past with chapters from both character’s perspectives, but sprinkled in are chapters that focus on flash-forwards, present day. There’s this sense of them falling in love and falling hard, but then we see that somewhere along the way, things got screwed up and Isaac and Kelsey are on non-speaking terms sitting in the superintendant’s office. While trying to figure out what happened between these two, I fought the urge to jump ahead to discover Kelsey’s big secret.
Oh, the secret.
Usually, characters in young adult books have “big secrets” that don’t really seem to shock me very much and things sometimes feel a little anticlimactic.
Not Kelsey’s secret.
The girl did something that made my jaw drop. It was no wonder her parents had her on a short leash and that she was trying to redeem herself. I didn’t exactly connect with Kelsey in the way that I wanted to because I didn’t fully understand her actions. What she did wasn’t something I would ever find myself doing (I hope). Her character was really great – she’s a wonderful girl who could obviously go places – but her decision-making skills were complete crap. I wanted to have a face-to-face conversation with Kelsey to snap her out of it.
Isaac was definitely more relatable for me; I’m not sure that I have connected as much with a male character as I did him. I understood why he acted out, why he was arrogant. He was so likable and kind to Kelsey (once they called a truce) and their kissing scenes definitely made my toes curl. I could see the growth in him and wanted to be a cheerleader for his team. When Kelsey’s secrets were revealed, my stomach was in knots on his behalf.
There were a few things I wish had been further explored. (slight spoilers ahead) I understood her parent’s reaction to what she did, but Kelsey mentioned daddy issues a few times. I didn’t really see that or understand why she felt the way she did. There also didn’t seem to be a lot of resolution with Kelsey’s (ex) best friend. There were lies and a semi-big misunderstanding and nothing ever seemed to be resolved.
Although there are a few things I would have hoped for, I definitely recommend you check out The Thing About the Truth. Kelsey and Isaac are sure to make you laugh out loud or wish you were smack dab in the middle of their steamy kissing scene.(less)