Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Nobody But Us

Rate this book
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.


Maybe I'm too late. Maybe Zoe's dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I'll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I'm any kind of example, but we can learn together.


Maybe it'll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it'll take forever. I'll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don't always leave, don't always give up on you.

272 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kristin Halbrook

4 books216 followers
When Kristin was little, she wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. Despite being able to throw a wicked spiral, she didn't really grow to the size needed for the NFL. Then, as Kristin got older and studied more, she came to realize there were better ways to effect positive change than becoming president. The first one, however, stuck, and now she's a critically acclaimed author of children's fiction of all ages. Even when Kristin was pursuing other dreams, she always took time to write here and there. NOBODY BUT US will be published by HarperChildren's in 2013, followed by EVERY LAST PROMISE in 2015. Kristin also writes middle grade novels as K.D. Halbrook.

When she's not writing or reading, she's spending time her pixies, her Scottish-accent husband, and their floof; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm and watching sunsets and waves crash on the beach. She currently lives, loves and explores in The Emerald City, though she'll occasionally make wispy, dream-like plans to move to Mexico, Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily). You can reach Kristin at kristinhalbrook@gmail.com.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
595 (30%)
4 stars
428 (21%)
3 stars
474 (24%)
2 stars
290 (14%)
1 star
170 (8%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 348 reviews
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,649 followers
January 2, 2013
To be entirely fair, I was not sure if this book would be my thing. The teens on the run aspect didn't really appeal to me, but Nobody But Us was blurbed by two of my favorite authors (Courtney Summers and Kody Keplinger), as well as being compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman, which I loved. I thought perhaps instead of being melodramatic, Nobody But Us might have the contemplative, deep, emotionally fraught style of If I Stay. Well, I've been wrong before. I really need to stop buying into this marketing that sells you one book by comparing it to another.

Starting with the good, Halbrook writes well, creating two different voices for Zoe and Will. They think differently and have wholly different vocabulary. Multiple points of view in first person are tricky, so I applaud her for doing that this well. The writing's a bit simpler than I personally tend to prefer, and includes the occasional odd word choice, like "vessel" to refer to a car, though that seems like something that my be caught before publication.

I would like to propose changing the tagline to "They're young. They're stupid. They're on the run." That pretty much sums up this book for me. Will, eighteen and finally free of the system where he's bounced from home to home and school to school, decides to take his girlfriend Zoe with him away from their shit-hole hometown and her abusive father. Fifteen-year-old Zoe needs a change, no doubt about that. Her father is a drunken monster, and should be in jail, but that does not mean that running away with Will is an awesome plan. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of an awesome plan.

Still, teens don't necessarily have much wisdom about the way of the world and everything can seem very immediate. They're young and this seems like the best road open to them, so that's what they do. Fine. I will accept that. However, what I have trouble handling is how incredibly stupid they are about everything once they're on the road. How can neither of them ever have seen a crime drama, which would have kept them from doing a lot of the idiotic things they do?

Zoe's choices can be put down to a youthful naivete, I suppose, and a weakness of character that causes her to cling to the first person to offer to take care of her. Will, however, has a better idea of the law, having come up against it before. He knows enough to get her a fake ID that lists her age as eighteen, though they never actually use this once, and to expect that the cops will be looking for them. Yet, somehow, he expects that they will simply be able to disappear in Las Vegas with just her fake ID, where she can enroll in school and they can live together. Really? You KNOW they'll be looking for you, Will, but it doesn't occur to you that you would need a fake identity too? Or that an IDENTITY is more than a doctored license? How are you going to enroll her in school or do anything without records? What about your social security numbers? Birth certificates? Disappearing is not so easy in the modern age, especially when people know your car.

"Christina, stop being so judgmental of them for not knowing all of this stuff; I mean, they're just teens!" Maybe so, imaginary devil's advocate. Some teens might not know those things, so let's give them a pass on that, okay? Shouldn't they at least be bright enough not to draw attention to themselves as they make their escape? Will, especially, since Zoe seems to have no clue what's going on? Yet, every time they stop, they do something incredibly, mind-blowingly stupid. Being a teenager does not necessitate a complete lack of survival skills or self-awareness.

Here are some examples of how Zoe and Will continually do precisely the worst possible thing in every situation:

Will and Zoe's relationship also made me seriously uncomfortable. Yet again, we have a girl in love with a guy she's afraid of a good deal of the time, and we're meant to see them as tragic, romantic figures. No, I don't think so. Zoe, physically abused by her father, is terrified every time Will gets into a fight on her behalf. The formula repeated over and over in this book: someone threatens or hits on Zoe, he punches the person, Zoe cries and shrinks away from him, he promises he'll never hurt her and that he'll keep his rage checked, repeat.

Worse, I have no doubt that, given time, he would end up hitting Zoe. Their interactions had warning bells chiming in my head all the way through. He thinks constantly about how much he wants to make her happy, but snaps at her any time she annoys him. He swears at her, even though he knows how much that upsets her. After some guys hit on her, he accuses her of flirting with them, blaming her, though she was only a victim of their rude behavior. When he does things like this, she accuses herself for his unhappiness, for their bad situation, even though she's clearly not at fault for any of it. Their relationship is incredibly unhealthy and I don't feel like Halbrook made her stance on that as a bad thing clear at all.

What I wanted and expected was an emotionally hard-hitting novel about the horrors of abuse, but instead I found a melodramatic mess that romanticizes what I see as an abusive relationship. The whole thing read like a Lifetime original movie. I imagine many people will enjoy this, given how popular books with similar themes have been recently, but I did not.
Profile Image for Kody Keplinger.
Author 14 books6,780 followers
January 5, 2012
The only book to ever make me cry! AND THAT'S A GOOD THING!!! You guys, this book is amazing. I hope you all read and love it when it comes out!
Profile Image for Kaitlin Ward.
Author 4 books185 followers
August 17, 2014
Gorgeous, amazing, heartwrenching in the best way.
Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,460 reviews290 followers
February 7, 2013
Do two broken people make a whole?
Like two shattered pieces of one ceramic bowl?
Two hearts that beat out of fear
running faster, in sync - their paths unclear.

Young love so fierce that it seemed timeless
from the beginning, so wrong - regardless.
One was running from perpetual purple
the other was running like a crazed criminal.

Bruises that showed from inside and out
cuts so deep, they bleed like a spout.
Together they want to save what's left of the other
before light disappears and day changes colour.

Bonnie and Clyde didn't really pan out
Adam and Mia almost didn't figure things out
So how could this story have a happy ending?
Seems like I'm bound for more tears
with my heart not mending.

Tell me, do I really want to read this story?
Do I really want to see another love that's not meant to be?
Do I really want to cry a bucket of tears?
Over a book as sweet as it appears?

But hey, life is not all about rainbows
more often it's trouble that we borrow.
It's all about taking that leap of faith
even though sometimes we plunge to our ends
at doom's gate.

Stories like these give you lessons
adding another layer of light to life's prism.
It's that brilliance of hope at the end of a tunnel
running forward and onward even if we stumble.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Profile Image for Katy Upperman.
Author 4 books306 followers
September 18, 2012
This book yanked me out of my reading funk in a major way. I loved it SO MUCH. I smiled, I swooned, I cringed, I *almost* cried. I just wanted to hug Zoe and Will so much, and the final pages... CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT THEM. This debut is heart-wrenching in the very best way. Highly recommend!

Edited to add a more comprehensive review:

If any book deserves early buzz, it’s this one. Kristin Halbrook’s beautiful, heartbreaking, fearless tale of two damaged teens on the run is the best contemporary I’ve read in a long time. And I read a lot of contemporary…

I’ll admit, when I saw mention of Bonnie and Clyde on the ARC cover, I was skeptical. This is YA and Bonnie and Clyde were legitimate . How much trouble can Will and Zoe possibly get into? Uh, a lot, it turns out. Nobody But Us is intense, and Kristin Halbrook holds nothing back. Will’s backstory is one of the saddest I’ve read, and poor Zoe doesn’t know love until she meets this boy who wants nothing more in the world than to rescue her. They literally are on the run–from her father, from their pasts, and from the law–and they make some pretty terrible choices along the way. The crazy thing is this: I was rooting for them. Even in the midst of a multiple-state spree, I wanted Will and Zoe to persevere. Kristin Halbrook, through flawless character development and stark, elegant prose, made me believe that Zoe and Will deserved a happily ever after.

Nobody But Us is a roller coaster of emotions. Zoe and Will are both adorable, and both so very broken. But together they are whole, taking on the world that’s wronged them. Their devotion, while young and sometimes misguided, is palpable. They love each other deeply, sweetly, tragically, and the ferocity of their relationship had me at times laughing, cringing, and nearly in tears. I was both charmed and appalled by the sacrifices they were willing to make for each other, and even when they did horrible, deplorable things in the name of love, I got it, because their motivations were so strong, and their bond so unbreakable.

I’ll say one more thing about Nobody But Us: The ending… shocked me. It was courageous and heart-wrenching and unlike most YA endings. Yet, it was perfect for the tone of the novel. I’m STILL thinking about it.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews642 followers
January 21, 2013
Before I even start, let me get something out of the way - a mix between If I Stay meets Bonnie and Clyde this book is NOT . That was grossly misleading in my opinion. As a matter of fact, that blurb was one of the main reasons I was really excited to get my hands on Nobody But Us. After finishing this story, I honestly feel that was highly misrepresentative seeing as I’m a fan of both references. I could not find one element in this story that paralleled If I Stay in the slightest, and comparing Zoe and Will to Bonnie and Clyde is highly exaggerated to say the least. Overall, I really wanted to fall head over heels for this book, but in the end it just fell flat in more ways than one.

Nobody But Us shares the story of fifteen year old Zoe and eighteen year old Will who run away from their hometown in North Dakota in search of a better life in Nevada. They both come from very broken family situations and as these two head off on their adventure, they come across constant obstacles during their escape. Zoe is extremely book smart and could have a bright future, but coming from an abusive family leaves her no choice than to save herself by picking up and leaving with her boyfriend. Will takes advantage of the first opportunity to head off on his own after being raised in foster care. Both teenagers care for each other deeply, but that’s not quite enough to get them to their happily-ever-after.

Zoe and Will definitely love each other and each of their baggage is pretty harsh to learn about, but I had a hard time connecting with these two characters on so many levels because they seemed extremely childish and not in a negative way, more of in a very naïve sense. It was completely obvious they were just looking only 100 feet ahead and didn’t plan out their runaway plan in the slightest. As soon as their ages were revealed, it was hard to ignore how criminal their situation was. Kidnapping a minor, anyone? Throw in false identifications, stolen money, accidental homicide and their story screams hot mess.

Zoe is a difficult character to connect with, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I didn’t dislike her in any form or fashion, but rather she was just too young mentally and psychologically for my taste. I expended a lot of patience for this character and if the story was a bit longer, I probably would have ended up writing her off. Will is unique in his own way and a lot of that comes out through his narrative. He’s not very smart and in the end that seems to be his demise. Overall, it would have been nice to see the romance between these two either build or strengthen in some way, rather than just taking it at face value that they love each other.

The ending was filled with bad choices and rushed action leaving me not only glad I was done, but baffled how I even finished their story. If I was suppose to cry during one of the final scenes, I sort of missed that boat by a mile. Overall, my adventures with Zoe and Will was highly disappointing and not even my signature favorite of a road trip was able to salvage this story for me. Oh well…
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews737 followers
January 25, 2013
Nobody But us led me to believe it had everything I love about a contemporary romance book; two teens in love knowing they’re meant to be together. Despite all the hurdles thrown at them, show they’re stronger and over the course of time, their love for each other really comes through their relationship. What can I say I’m a sucker for a sweet romance, but unfortunately despite starting off great, the story kind of just went downhill.

Zoe finally found her perfect partner in Will, her life had been chaotic before she met him, she lived with an abusive father and her mother died when she was only 6 years old. She had a great friend in Lindsey, but no-one really saw her for the real her, underneath the bruises and make-up. Not until Will turned up at her school. Despite seeing her bruises, he made the extra effort to get to know her, also not having the best life growing up either, you can say Will and Zoe were the perfect match. But with Zoe’s dad, Zoe had to keep her relationship under wraps. But Will knew Zoe deserved so much more, and he wanted to be that guy who could give it to her. So they decided the only way that would happen was by going on the run.

Straight away I was rooting for Zoe and Will, they only really had each other and so if the only way they could be together was by running off then I was all for it. But I soon came to realise they really hadn’t thought things through, what initially led me to believe this was right I soon discovered was the spur of the moment decision. First of all Zoe was only 15 years old, so under the legal age of leaving her parent and going on the run, so they knew the police would be on their trail, then the way they left of course would make the police even more anxious to get their hands on Will. As the book progressed, Zoe and Will’s relationship came across as two young confused people in love who had no clue what they were doing. “The constant I love you’s” between them and jumping head into things through really began to grate on me. I think the extreme lengths they went to and the ending was the final straw for me. It’s like Zoe and Will were just a couple of teenagers who just wanted to be together, sadly they were turned into hardened criminals who didn’t think twice about hurting anyone who got in their way.

I’m sorry to say Nobody But us just wasn’t for me, over the last couple of months I’ve lost the patience for characters who dilly dally about Zoe and Will were two characters I had a hard time connecting to. Despite my disappointing review, I’m sure there are other readers who would find this a lot more of a touching read than I did.
Profile Image for Shirley.
214 reviews96 followers
December 19, 2012
Nobody But Us, from start to finish, was unfortunately a huge disappointment. Based on the blurbs and praises, I expected a debut that could rival the brilliance of Gayle Forman’s ‘If I Stay’, but what I received was possibly one of the most disappointing and tedious YA contemporaries I’ve had the misfortune to read.

The characters, while each possessing their own backstory and inner sufferings still lacked depth for me to relate to or admire. Zoe, a 15 year old who is constantly physically abused by her drunk father is so, so weak. Having witnessed her mother be the victim of her father’s daily physically violence, then die at the hands of her father, and now become the sole receive of her father’s violence, I suppose it isn’t strange that she’s always felt submissive and powerless. However, I did expect some inner strength of her; some dignity or resistance to exist within her. I didn’t expect her to simply submit to her father’s abuse and just…let it go all the time. It’s like she’s accepted that being punched, shoved, tortured will always be her life and she doesn’t plan to do anything about it. She just wasn’t a strong enough heroine for my to admire, and even worse, one that didn’t show character growth. (Although I’ll admit that towards the end, she did come to her senses, but by then I didn’t care about her anymore.)

Then there’s 18 year old Will, abandoned at a young age and has jumped from one foster family to another throughout his life. I suppose he should be congratulated for wanting to do the right thing; wanting to protect the girl he loves. But at the end of the day, his actions felt immature and lacked common sense. It was difficult for me to really like Will, because half the time, I was expecting him to hit Zoe or something. I was constantly on edge, and no matter how many times he promised Zoe he would never hurt her, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that he’ll explode and unleash all his bottled up anger on her. He’s violent and I’m sorry to say, a little unstable. Plus, I'm not sure if it's just me, but their relationship screamed 'UNHEALTHY' based on their actions, thoughts and declarations of love every 2 seconds (which was driving me insane! I couldn't tolerate it one second longer!)

There’s also an it’s-me-not-you type of problem – the slang/dialect. I’m usually fine with slang/dialect in novels, but in this case I couldn’t, for the life of me, imagine Will speaking like that. It sort of…ruined the overall story for me.

As for the ending, well…had this been a poignant, touching read, I would have bawled my eyes out towards the end. But in this case? I felt nothing. I simply ceased to care about anything else that happened in the story. I was like ‘right, so that’s it.’ *shrugs*

I suppose the only redeeming quality about this book is that it was short (only 200+ pages on my copy from Edelweiss). I planned to abandon it after 10% but then decided to finish it. A fast reader can probably finish the entire book within an hour. Overall, I believe Nobody But Us had potential – lots of potential in fact. It just failed to deliver. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I couldn't tolerate another second of Zoe’s tendency to blush at every.single.freaking.thing.Will.says.or.does. Give me a break!
Profile Image for Gisbelle.
770 reviews218 followers
September 13, 2013
It has been months since I read a book that moved me like Nobody But Us. It was just amazingly, brilliantly, beautifully, breathtakingly well-written. I fell so deeply and desperately in love with both Zoe and Will. For a fifteen-year-old girl, Zoe was so strong and mature. As for Will, even at times he was a hotheaded teenager who loved to solve every problem with his fists, was one of the sweetest fictional guys ever. I felt how seriously in love they both were and understood their decisions. I do not care what other people think about this book. Personally, it is by far one of the best books I have read this year.

I first picked up the book because of its absolutely beautiful cover. Then I was amazed how well written this book actually was. It might not be the first book about teenagers trying to escape cruel reality they were in. There are a lot more books written on this topic, yet this book was so much better in so many ways. For one thing, how author intensified the situation both Will and Zoe were in made me unable to put the book down. It started out so simple and carefree. I was happy for them both when they talked about their plan once they arrived Vegas. Then everything just went wrong. They committed crimes and seemed unable to untangle themselves from this mess. My heart ached for them and I could guess how the book might end, but I still hoped for the best.

Speaking for ending, this book ended with a BAM! I loved it despise how hard it had made me cry. I did not think there could be any other way to end the book. It was just perfect. It tore me apart, but it was realistic. It revealed the dark part of the world where people would do anything to survive. Everyone makes mistakes, the most important point is to take responsibilities for the mistakes you have made.

In short, I was mess after reading this book. Just like real world, it was not always roses and rainbows. If you don't think you can handle all the emotions, you should not read this book. It is best for those who enjoy being on the emotional roller roaster ride!

Originally Posted: Gisbelle's YA Obsession
Profile Image for Kathy.
593 reviews38 followers
April 12, 2014
“He wanted to keep things in, and all I wanted to do was get out.” - Zoe
What happens when someone can't overcome being abused as a child? What happens when a person doesn't learn how to control their emotions? Growing up with hate and anger, fear and resentment for themselves.

That's what Zoe and Will had to put up with growing up. A rough childhood where no one showed them love or taught them how to deal with their feelings. No one taught them the right way to deal with anything!

They had to find out the hard way, but at least they found each other. And found love in each other. Zoe had Will to teach her to be strong enough to go after what she wants. And Will found someone to love him for who he was, good, bad and everything in between.

This was a very sad and emotional story and the writing was beautiful and it will stay with me for a long time to come. I really loved it.
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews150 followers
January 24, 2013
This review was originally published on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.
We gotta be hidden here in this new world we made. Just silence keeping all the shit of the real world away.

I rarely reflect on authorial intent when reading. I figure, once a book's in the wild, it's meaning is up to each reader's interpretation.

However, Kristin Halbrook's debut is one of those rare books in which I actively sought out information about the author's vision for her book. Is Nobody But Us a cautionary tale? A star-crossed romance? A gritty depiction of the darkest side of the child welfare system?

I think readers will find each of those concepts in Nobody But Us, depending on what they want or hope to read, but I'm still unsure as to what the intention of this story may be.

Regardless, what I do know is that Nobody But Us is a strong debut, and a stark depiction of teens facing horrid circumstances which they're ill-equipped to handle.

Nobody But Us is told in alternating (and very distinct) perspectives from the points-of-view of WIll and Zoe. Will has just turned 18 and aged out of the foster care system. Now legally an adult, Will hopes to escape his dead-end, hard-scrabble, small North Dakota town with his girlfriend. Zoe is younger, 15, and flees with WIll to escape her violent father. The pair sets out on a road trip, destined for Las Vegas where they hope to blend into the anonymity of the city and remake their lives.
Before I knew escape, life was something to be endured, passively. Now I hunger for it.
Except running from the past is a hard thing.

Zoe and Will run afoul of the law before they even bust out of town. Will severely beats Zoe's father who tries to stop his daughter from leaving. And, Will has a secret about the money he's brought along.

Both Will and Zoe and broken, unhappy teens. It's easy to see how their relationship became so intense so quickly--they cling to one another because they have no one else. Naturally, this sort of attachment, that which is spurred on by loneliness and isolation, doesn't have the healthiest foundation.

Will is incredibly protective of Zoe. He wants to shelter her from everything and doesn't fully understand the line between caring and something unhealthy.
We sit next to each other in the booth. Her leg presses against mine and I feel it in every bone of my body. I clear my throat and pick up the menu. Someday she’s gonna figure out what she does to me. Pretty soon I’m gonna let her know what she does to me.

Zoe Is a book smart girl, but she's been sheltered from the world and lives with intense fear, due to her father's abuse. Because of this, her decision-making and ability to communicate--or even understand--what she wants and how she feels is stunted, emotionally younger than her 15 years.
I want it to be always like this. Cars in ditches and tickling and kissing in the weeds because we can’t help ourselves. I never want us to be able to help ourselves.

What struck me most about Will and Zoe's relationship is that they really don't know one another. When they take off for Vegas, they haven't actually been together very long. They are both hesitant about how to be together, because even though they've experienced terrible things, they've haven't lived the flip-side--good, solid connections with other people, so being together is just guesswork.
I always wonder about what she’s thinking, what she sees when she looks at me, how she feels when she’s with me. Her expressions and her actions don’t hide much, but I can’t help it. I want to know it all. Make sure I’m doing the right thing, saying the kind of stuff she needs to hear.

A feeling a dread pervades Nobody But Us, and unsurprisingly, the couple's ill-conceived escape plan rapidly unravels.

Will's inability--despite his best attempts--to control his emotions scares Zoe. The cracks in their plan (and it's a terrible, terrible plan of the sort that only teenagers could conceive) open up and the stakes get higher and higher and the consequences more dire.

Thanks to Zoe's inability to communicate what she needs and Will's tendency to overreact and respond inappropriately to conflict, a crime is committed which results in the two being on the run, and their dangerous road trip becomes an doomed escape attempt in which their criminal activity continues.
Our love like this, grown while we committed crimes—it's going to destroy us.

Nobody But Us is not a happy book.

And the resolution for these characters isn't what I'd hoped--though it is what it should be. The thing that makes this novel distinctive is it's unfaltering look at a relationship that's not healthy. In the hands of a less-skilled storyteller, this could be yet another tired story romanticizing bad relationships.

Except, there's absolutely nothing romantic about Nobody But Us.

Instead, it's a story of desperation, of young people with nowhere to turn but toward one another. Their story is completely improbable on a number of levels (their unwavering belief that they can simply start over seems ridiculous to me as an adult who understands the logistics of the world), but that's also why the story works. Will and Zoe need to cling to hope that this improbable scenario will lead to a fresh start.

There's no redemption for these characters, and without treading into spoiler territory, I will say that while I hoped Zoe would grow up to be a strong, independent young woman, the ending is unflinching in staying true to her broken, naive characterization even when we revisit her months later. It saddened me, but also felt true.

It's unfortunate that some of the early marketing and reviews labeled Nobody But Us as "romantic" and "for fans of If I Stay." If a reader approached this novel as a read-alike for If I Stay, they would be disappointed. That novel contains a very strong theme around the idea of the transformative power of love.

That's not the case of Nobody But Us. Rather, this book peels back what happens when everyone--family, friends, school, "The System"--fails young people and their desperation throws them into situations they cannot handle.

It's heartbreaking.

Initial Reaction:
I had some issues with some of the scenarios, logic-wise, but this has great characterization and was incredibly readable.
Profile Image for Hannah McBride.
Author 13 books831 followers
December 20, 2012
It’s always hard starting a book that you know will smash your heart, and that’s exactly what happened when I started reading Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook. It’s one of those books that you just know can’t end well, but it’s written in such a clear, poetic way, that you can’t stop reading for anything.

Will and Zoe are broken people. There’s just no other word for it. Will has been failed by nearly every adult in his life. He’s been bounced from home to home, a product of just how all-too-frequently our society fails older kids in the foster system. He is volatile and unpredictable, but he has this love of Zoe that is overwhelming. The sheer sensitivity of Will astounded me, especially when it came to Zoe.

Zoe, who has been beaten down and abused for most of her life by her only living parent. I desperately wanted Zoe away from her dad—possibly as badly as Will did. The man was a monster, and I cheered when they ran away together … Until I realized Zoe is 15 and Will is 18 and their being together is a crime. But that is just the first in a long series of decisions and obstacles that threatened to undo them.

This book really raises the question: Can you love someone too much? Will and Zoe clung to each other and understood one another in a way few people ever do, but it was to the point of destruction. There were so many points in the journey where things could have gone a little different and ended beautifully, but bad luck and desperation-fueled choices put them on a collision course with reality.

I finished reading Nobody But Us yesterday on the bus coming home from NYC with friends. I still had another 2 hours to kill before we got home, but I couldn’t bring myself to start a new book. This book haunted me much more than I ever imagined. No, I did not get the ending I so desperately wanted, but I think that’s the point. This book made me think and feel long after I stopped reading. I selfishly wanted to hurl this book (well, metaphorically speaking as it was on my Nook and I didn’t feel like going through the financial hassle of replacing that) and pout that I didn’t get my fairy tale ending.

But this isn’t that book.

If you want a happily ever after, then sadly you probably will not enjoy this. However, I think you do yourself a huge disservice by not reading Nobody But Us. Holbrook created this masterpiece of a novel that left me wondering and troubled long after it was over. And really, can you ask for anything more spectacular in a novel?
Profile Image for I Eat Words.
174 reviews168 followers
April 9, 2013
You know how sometimes you see a news story that has to do with teenagers committing crimes and society has taught us to label them and their actions as "messed up"? I felt like this was a look into their side of things, that all kids don't come from the best homes and that sometimes it leads people to not think through their actions. I was rooting for these two the entire time. This was a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story. I fell in love with both of these broken yet wonderful characters and their lives. Amazing, amazing work.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews545 followers
March 8, 2013
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: A heartbreaking story about a couple who find love despite their broken pasts.

Opening Sentence: He comes down the road in his Camaro sliding left to right on the freshly oiled gravel and skidding to a stop in front of my house.

The Review:

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook stands out from a lot of contemporary fiction for young adults. Sometimes a book will talk about a realistic scenario and I wouldn’t be able to connect to it. Or that the main character will be written in a way that I wouldn’t be able to relate. But that isn’t the case for Halbrook’s Nobody But Us. I felt that there were emotions that were so raw, I couldn’t help but feel them.

Will and Zoe had different lives growing up. Both of their childhood experiences weren’t the best, by any means. Will has moved from foster home to foster home. He never fit in with a family, letting his anger get the best of him. Zoe lives in a home of domestic abuse. Only being fifteen, she has met her father’s alcohol-induced anger with a less than loving hand. No one around her has ever spoken up for her, and it didn’t look like anyone ever will. Except when Will meets Zoe and notices a hidden bruise. He vows to take her away from her father. And if that means running away without looking back, so be it.

Will’s voice is from one extreme to another. He has intense emotions for Zoe, loving her as hard as he can. But on the other side, he is also keeping a lot of anger inside of him. Maybe it was due to never having an outlet to let those feelings out. Maybe it’s the nature of his upbringing. But regardless of what it is, he loves hard and falls hard. For me, I didn’t connect to Will as easily as I would have wanted. His character was a little too shielded for me, even if his inner thoughts revealed a lot about him. I wanted to love him and I thought he was swoony enough, but in the end he just wasn’t for me.

Zoe is very young at fifteen. It is evident by her life choices and how she is easily swayed by a boy. Zoe is closed off as much as a young girl can get, with an exception of a close friend or two. I had a difficult time connecting to Zoe. I couldn’t easily place myself in her shoes and walk the fine line of her life. I yearned for her, but that was as far as my emotions got towards her. She was naive when it came to Will, and I felt that it was a little hard to believe since she dealt with her dad for so long. But this is my, and my opinion. I couldn’t place myself in her shoes but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t realistic.

Told in a dual point-of-view, the chapters alternate between the voices of Zoe and Will. It was interesting to see the differences in their thoughts and feelings in Nobody But Us. Seeing the same scene through both of their eyes allowed me to see the complete story. They were in this car for so long, driving to where they needed to go, and to see that journey was great. The world is realistic enough for me to live and believe it. I was transported into where Zoe and Will were, looking behind my shoulder one moment and living blissfully ignorant the next.

I feel that a lot of Will’s and Zoe’s choices and actions were borderline unrealistic in Nobody But Us. Let me explain myself a little more clearly. I think they were realistic enough, but the pacing and time sequence of how things happened were a little too fast for me. The pacing was nice and steady in the first half of the book. And then there was this turning point where everything sped by so fast. I felt that the last half was rushed, but it was understandable. I understood why it had to happen.

There are a lot of raw emotions spoken throughout Nobody But Us. There are a lot of serious topics, some a little uncomfortable to read about more so than the next. But I enjoyed Nobody But Us and I think you will also.

Notable Scene:

“I know you won’t. It wasn’t that. Not really. But . . . you have to understand, Will, I . . . I see him when you’re like that, is all. My dad. Will, you were so angry.”

She says it like she’s the one who’s got to say sorry, like she did anything wrong at all. I close my eyes, shut out the road, tell her that I ain’t her dad, that I won’t never treat her like that.

That I’m sorry.

This anger-person: he needs to go away before I destroy us both.

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Nobody But Us. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Catherine.
280 reviews3 followers
October 11, 2022
What in the yeehaw did I just read. These characters made me want to scream. Get a grip of common sense plz.
Profile Image for Emily Crowe.
355 reviews130 followers
July 24, 2017
The first half of this book was hard to get through, but the second half found its stride and improved considerably--hence the 3 stars overall. Beware: ahead there be spoilers.

If ever there were a book that demonstrates how the part of the teenage brain that oversees risk tasking and evaluating consequences isn't fully developed until the mid-twenties, this is it. We all know that teenagers do stupid things. We know this by observation, and we know this because we all did stupid things as teens that we would not dream of doing in our adult lives.

It's absurd that Zoe and Will run away together after they've only known each other two months. Zoe is a quiet survivor who endures her father's verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis, while Will harbors a troubled past and a violent rap that has landed him in various foster homes, never staying in one for very long. Once he turns eighteen, he convinces Zoe to run away with him. She's smart and fearful from living with her dad, yet oddly innocent; he's hardened but with a real soft spot for Zoe. All he wants to do is protect her; all she wants to do is feel safe with somebody for once in her life. So they take off from North Dakota in a beat-up Camaro and a thousand dollars of stolen money and head to Vegas to make a new life for themselves.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: how can *that* possibly go wrong?

Before they cross their first state line, Will has beaten up her father. He swears up and down that he would never hurt Zoe, but what he doesn't realize is there is more than one way to hurt a person.

Before they cross their second state line, Zoe has been caught shoplifting tampons because she's too embarrassed to ask Will for the money to pay for them and Will breaks a bottle of wine over the gas station proprietor's head. They dash out the door, leaving him for dead.

Yeah. How can any plan that these two kids concoct possibly go wrong?

So basically their story doesn't end well. I had imagined a Thelma & Louise scenario, but instead it involved a standoff with the police and the FBI

I had a lot of trouble buying into the premise of the first half of the book: that Zoe, the quintessential good girl who keeps her head down, would run off with Will in the first place. That Zoe's friends, neighbors, and teachers would all turn a blind eye to her father's abuse. She had visible bruises, apparently. The reader can't possibly believe that North Dakotans value children less than other people, and we can't write it off as being secret, or that it happened in a time when things like this weren't talked about (there's no date given, but they have cell phones with cameras, so it's 21st century).

But once I hit the 150 page mark, and once the first bad decisions were made, it was easy to fall into the second half and believe where the consequences of those initial bad decisions would take them. The second half felt intense without being melodramatic, and the closer the ending gets, the more inexorable it feels. God, I wouldn't be a teenager again, in love and with no way out, for anything.

346 reviews71 followers
January 19, 2013
Rating: 3.5 stars

Reviewed @ Enticed by Books


You know those TV shows nowadays where the people do stupid stuff, and you still watch it knowing that there is no lesson at the end of it, like Silent Library or Worlds Dumbest. They are pure entertainment, and no matter how dumb they are, you still enjoy them. That is exactly what this book feels to me. From the beginning, I knew what the characters were doing was wrong & illegal and it was never going to end well, but I had so much fun reading about their crazy journey.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run. is indeed the perfect tagline for this book, if you add They are a little dumb at the end. I'm not making fun of it, I liked Nobody But Us, it was a funny book initially and got really really intense at the end which was completely unexpected. Zoe and Will come from a bad background, and on Will's 18th birthday, they plan on running away together. Zoe is the only child of an abusive father, and Will is a foster kid, and now both of them want a better life for themselves. I would have done the same thing in their place, but Zoe is not legal yet, and in todays world people take law very seriously. I knew that Will would be behind bars when the police finds him, and I was dreading waiting for that part because it was going to happen. I knew it was.

Will had a hot & cold personality, sometimes I loved him so much that even I'd run off with him, and sometimes I just wanted his face to be a punching back. He has such a pure heart, but then he has to say some crap and mess it all up; in a way, he reminded me of Jude (Crash trilogy by Nicole Williams) a lot, and I ended up loving Jude, but I had so-so feelings for Will. He made bad choices and I absolutely hated the consequences he had to pay. I never in a million years expected the ending to be so horrible & sad. I didn't like it.

Still, I don't feel bad for Zoe. That girl is the epitome of pushovers, I don't like girls like her. They take everything in, all the abusive, the bad mouthing, and never complain. She was sweet & loving, but she has to learn to fight back, and I didn't believe she was stronger at the end, I felt she was more miserable. After finishing the book, I don't think the whole journey was worth the ending the couple had. They had a messy life before, and they had even a messier one afterward.

I do have to commend on one thing, which is Kristin Halbrook's writing. It was phenomenal for a debut author; she made it so easy to differentiate between Will & Zoe voices. Nobody But Us is a fun entertaining book about two crazy people in love. I enjoyed reading it, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, adventurous read.

A Copy was provided by the Publisher and Edelweiss for an honest review. (Thank You!)
Profile Image for Katie_la_geek.
821 reviews109 followers
January 29, 2013
For this review and more visit my blog

I hate posting reviews like this. I hate it because I am scared I will offend someone, I hate it because sometimes I feel they make me look uptight and over sensitive and I hate it because they always seem to be about books that everybody else seems to love, and make no mistake people will love Nobody But Us, but I had some serious issues with it.

Firstly I would like to say that this has nothing to do with Halbrook’s writing which I found to be rich and engaging, she knows how to tell a story and I will read more of what she writes in the future.

My big problem was the romance and the way I perceived it. I am not going to lie there were parts that enraged me. The relationship between Zoe and Will is uncomfortable and in my opinion not very romantic at all. I admire that Will wants to save Zoe but the question is who is going to save her from him? He is a violent guy, never towards her but his violent reaction to others frightens her quite a lot. He is super possessive and gets angry at her if other boys look at her, or flirt with her, or pay her any attention. His accusations and threatening nature makes her feel bad about herself and somehow she is always apologising. Will may not hit Zoe but the warning signs are all there. I just do not think relationships like this should be romanticised in any way.

Another, and less serious, issue I had was unrealistic-ness. Will and Zoe’s reaction to just about everything just didn’t ring true to me. I understand why they run away but do not understand a majority of the choices they made from that point. They seem to do everything possible to make people aware of whom they are and constantly do silly things that could get them caught, like enrolling Zoe in high school which I am pretty sure would be impossible given the circumstances.

What was the final nail in the coffin was the over-the-top drama. It reminded me of Pushing the Limits (a book I didn’t like) for its use of drama. The story lines are different but the way they are told is similar. Piling drama on top of drama is not for me.

Really, Nobody But Us does not deserve the one star rating I have given it. Kristin Halbrook is a talented author and this review is not meant personally, I truly admire what she attempted with this story. But I feel like I have to give this a one star rating because for me the dynamics of the romance were unhealthy and the romanticising of this type of relationship is wrong.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for and honest review
Profile Image for ExLibris_Kate.
721 reviews205 followers
January 21, 2013
Will and Zoe are two very messed-up kids, each with their own baggage and tragic story. To escape her abusive father, they run away, but things quickly get out of hand. It was interesting to read the way that the tables slowly turn as the story progresses. Will is determined to take care of Zoe and shield her from all reality, but that never works and soon Zoe starts to gain some insight and becomes more of a voice of reason. In between these turning points, however, is some monumentally poor decision-making. There are a lot of moments when you want to hold your breath because you are sure that they will get caught. I have to admit that the pacing of this book was good and kept the pages turning.

For such a short book, this story definitely packs an emotional punch. I think this was accomplished with the alternating viewpoints of Will and Zoe. Without getting mired down in narrative, you get a good picture of their lives and inner thoughts through each alternating chapter. There is a certain Bonnie and Clyde feeling to this story, but that only goes as far as their actual running away. I would say that their motivation for going and the motivation behind their behavior is much different, than the other famous duo. There is no quest for glory or reveling in their infamy. These two teens really just want to escape and it's with a certain amount of innocence (or maybe denial) that they try to convince themselves that there is a way out. I think the thing that kept me from really getting into this book was the ending. It seemed very rushed to me and while I loved its open ended feeling (is it hopeful or foreshadowing of a repeat of the same destructive patterns?) I wanted more from it. I think that this book will find a solid teen audience because despite the improbability of going on the run, the emotional turmoil and questions about the future are universal feelings that many will be able to relate to.

Profile Image for Yana.
3 reviews
February 6, 2013
This is the first time I'm writing a book review here in Goodreads and it's because this book was so frustrating I just had to write about it.

The book started out pretty well, Kristin Halbrook really pulled off the dual narratives. I liked the tragic backstories of both characters. I admired that they had the guts to finally take their future in their own hands. I didn't find them cowardly for running away. To me, it was a very brave thing to do-- taking a step into the unknown future in store for them.

But as the story progressed, it just all went downhill. I was rooting for them. I wanted to see that 2 people who's lives started really messed up can change their fate. But they just kept on doing one stupid thing after the other. I just wanna say, when you're guilty, the least suspicious thing to do is to act oblivious, not panic and run the hell out leaving your wallet behind. I'm not gonna go into all the stupid things they did otherwise I'll spoil it.

But he most frustrating thing about this book was the ending. When I finished the book, all I could think was
I couldn't think of a more terrible ending than that. What was the point of the whole book if everything just ends that way? it wasn't even heartbreaking. Just so frustrating.
Profile Image for Audra.
114 reviews10 followers
January 21, 2013
Originally posted to The Society's Bookshelf

Heart wrenching indeed. Not the ending I expected, but an ending I love. This story is sure to stick with me.

Nobody But Us is the first contemporary book I've read that I've hands down, quite simply, fallen in love with. Will and Zoe are such complex, carefully crafted characters that can't help but be fallen in love with. This is a tragic story. Both characters have their own crappy mess to deal with in their home situations, leading them to flee away together on an epic roadtrip to Las Vegas, which seems like a better idea in theory.

It's been a while since a book has made me cry. Let me tell you, the emotions and experiences that Will and Zoe go through in this book brought me to tears. Kristen does such an amazing job bringing their love and struggles to the page. If her debut book is this great, I can't wait to see what's next from her.
Profile Image for Julie Cross.
Author 26 books1,693 followers
February 9, 2015
Beautiful, real, raw, edgy, and just that little of fantasy, of epic intense love with all the weight of real-world problems. Loved the voice, the style, the story under the surface and the excitement/tension of the plot. To write two characters both with deep-rooted good in them and skillfully disguised pure hearts, but go about each one in completely different ways is brilliant writing and characterization, imo.

More like this please.
Profile Image for -S♡.
321 reviews48 followers
December 25, 2016
5+ - Stay with me for ever! - STARS!
They're young.
They're in love.
They're on the run.
Like Kody Kiplinger said, "Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and exhilarating- NOBODY BUT US will have you holding your breath until the very last page."

I cried, laughed, screamed, smiled, and sobbed. This book was one of the best books I've read all 2016.

Thank you Kristin Halbrook!
Profile Image for bookspumpkin.
421 reviews162 followers
January 14, 2015
Ich fand das so schlecht. Zoe & Will waren mir zu nervig und das Ende war ja mal mega übertrieben, aber nun gut...
Profile Image for Marochka.
845 reviews
March 29, 2017
Боже, ну что за бред? Герои сбегают из дома: ему 18, ей 15, до этого момента они встречаются уже 2 года (уже можно было догадаться, что ничего хорошего от книги ждать не приходится).
Убийство человека ради тампонов? Ну, прямо Бонни и Клайд.
Я скоро начну опасаться одиночных (не из серии) книг. Они почти в��е странные и плохо кончаются.
В общем, эту бредятину (про наивных детишек с идиотскими поступками) я прочитала очень быстро, чтобы только закончить. Очевидно, не понравилось мне.
Profile Image for arlene ♡.
38 reviews1 follower
July 14, 2020
I think the premise of this has been done a lot before and I’m having a small issue with the age difference at the same time, I don’t know how I feel. I think the end was unnecessary and felt rushed. All that being said, this author is an amazing writer, she’s so good with her words and articulates really well. I recommend this book if you want to cry a bit and for a quick read, some entertainment. Don’t expect too much out of it.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,229 followers
January 17, 2013
So, last year I discovered that I liked contemporary YA novels.  This year, I decided to see if I like grittier contemporary novels.  If this book is any indication, the answer to that question is a resounding no.  But I'm not going to give up on them.  I did like Send Me a Sign last year, and it was full of the sads.  So maybe it was just this book and I that didn't mesh well, not just the fact that it was dark.

The fact is, these two kids have had really effed up, crazy lives, and them taking off on their own isn't going to change that.  But I know from experience that sometimes it does help to put distance between you and your problems, if only to gain some clarity.  Though, that isn't what happens in this story.  My heart hurts for these characters and everything they've been through -- and are still going through -- even though I never developed an emotional connection to them.  Which is really sad because I really wanted to love them, to love this book.

This book was all gogogo and I was all, Hey, wait a minute...we're moving on from this already?  The brief glimpses of Will and Zoe's lives prior to their, well, for lack of a better word, escape, are fleeting and pretty much serve to garner more sympathy for the characters.  But while that tactic is successful, for the most part, it also made me question why they were being so impulsive and not facing their fears head-on.  Zoe seemed to have a relatively good head on her shoulders, so why was she running?  At times, she would second-guess their decision to hit the road, but then she'd think about Will and his love for her, and she would settle back into her resolve to start a life with him.

Will.  This guy is one I would never give a second thought to, except to remind myself to stay away from him.  Not because he's a shelter kid but because of his freakishly scary mood swings and easily provoked anger management issues.  Honestly, he reminds me of someone I know, which freaks me the eff out because guys like that really do exist and they end up just like the man Zoe is so desperate to flee.  But Will and Zoe both believe that they're saving her.  Will who is 18 and Zoe who is a mere 15.  Will knows how much trouble he could get into for high-tailing it with a minor across state lines, but the wacko already thought of this and got her a fake ID stating she was of age, prior to their road trip from hell.


This story is just one bad decision after another, and it doesn't end well for either of the characters.  All I felt throughout the book was a penetrating melancholy, and I kind of wish I'd never read this.  I know this story isn't completely fiction.  That things can go terribly, terribly wrong in a matter of moments, based on few bad decisions and that a story like this is the result.  But I read to escape, to feel good, and this book achieved the exact opposite.  It was like watching a bad car chase, and it ends about the same as one, too.  It wasn't terribly written, but it also wasn't the book for me.

Thanks to HarperTeen & Edelweiss for providing a copy for review.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 348 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.