After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That's all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl's suicide. Now Nikki's been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can't look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates - almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it's like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance... and everyone deserves to be loved.
Karole lives outside of Philadelphia, PA with her loving husband, exuberant little girl, and smiley little boy. She adores YA Romance, because it would be awesome if life in general had a requisite feel-good happy ending rule. Vices include obscene Haribo gummy consumption, addiction to Starbucks NF vanilla lattes, and tendency to hoard Bath and Body Works 3-wick candles.
** I received this book through NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review **
"Oh no!" You're thinking. "An overly critical writer- she's just looking for something wrong with this book!" Let me start off with the fact that I doubted my own opinion when I saw the high rating for this book. In fact, I doubted my own opinion to the point where I went out and asked the opinions of multiple people in wheelchairs and I've come to this conclusion:
This book is ableist. There's no way around it. There are other problems, yes, but this is the main and unavoidable one. I don't care how it was addressed, not only is this Inspiration Porn (of the 'you should consider yourself lucky you aren't disabled' and 'look at how well this disabled person is dealing with their disability- and you're whining!' variety), but the romance isn't even healthy. (You can argue all you want over it being true love or love at first sight, but a romance that starts at 15% into the book? Rushed. A romance that revolves against one of the partners trying to boost the other one (Pax) while the other does the bare minimum? Unhealthy. A romance where one partner uses the other to make themselves feel better? Super unhealthy.)
I'll touch on the romance later, though.
The biggest crime in this book is that Pax is not allowed his own privacy. Because he is disabled, he has to disclose everything to Nikki. In relationships with abled (or even with people whose disability isn't visible), one partner doesn't have to disclose every single detail of their medical history and issues. I've seen the 'catheter scene' be praised for realism, but all I see is a violation of Pax's privacy- he shouldn't have had to tell Nikki that for her to continue a relationship with him. It also becomes an issue of the 'infinitely forgiving' disabled person trope with how quickly . Just because a person is disabled doesn't mean they have an infinite capacity for forgiveness- Pax became a caricature of what every abled person wants a disabled person to be. Him just getting "the sense" that Nikki "isn't a cruel person" is pulling at straws and complete bullshit for a character that's known someone for maybe a week and a half at 15%.
Another thing I just can't condone is how other disabled people are demonized throughout the book. When the other guys in wheelchairs on Pax's basketball team talk about how the 'novelty of dating [a disabled guy] will wear off', they're shown as jaded and rude- when that's what happens a lot of the time. Look me in the eye and tell me that abled people don't ever date someone as a 'charity' to them (looking at you, My Kind of Crazy). Also, there's this constant assurance that Pax 'isn't like other disabled people'- usually in how he isn't easily offended. While this would be different if we ever got his point of view (where it could reflect how disabled people often act as if they aren't offended by accidental or intentional snipes to their inability to walk), the fact that it's just accepted as part of his character is pure nonsense and contributes to the 'ideal disabled person'.
More things: the constant emphasis of how buff Pax is on his upper body and the constant non-mention of his atrophied legs. In fact, if memory serves, I think she mentions how his legs were barely atrophied (which is a load of bullshit if his ). Again, pick-and-choose the handsome/attractive parts of the disabled person while downplaying the uglier parts (the catheter scene doesn't!! count!! as an ugly part!! it's a part of his very personal life and didn't need to be discussed!!). This whole 'idealized disabled person' especially comes into play when Nikki tells him he has "an amazing attitude" (like disabled people have to be perpetually unhappy) and when he just . There's also the common qualifier 'even'- "I'm pretty sure that, even in a wheelchair, she could kick my ass". As if disabled people aren't able to be physically fit or able to defend themselves.
Nikki also tends to play "good ally to the disabled" a lot, which means getting angry at slights against Pax's wheelchair status, but it comes off as really insincere in light of her previous thoughts (I think the worst being when she thought Pax looked hot for a guy in a wheelchair, which is justified by Pax 'guessing her thoughts'). When her mom acts like "Pax's wheelchair status somehow makes him a harmless companion", it's bogus because Nikki has been acting the same way.
Off the topic of ableism, I can not like Nikki as a main character. The narrative tries its damn best to portray her with a sob story, but the fact that she literally ruined Taylor's life is something I can't forgive. It'd be different if she were redeemed- if she ever apologized to Taylor wholeheartedly (this isn't even a spoiler- it's something I wish I'd known going in!) or had any positive character growth (outside of being capable of love!) I might've enjoyed this book more. Yet, the only time we ever get her regretting what happened is when her freedoms are taken away- she doesn't regret the act, she regrets the consequences. I think the part most indicative of this is when she . She bemoans her new-found awful reputation, but doesn't actually realize that what she did was a shitty thing to do- and who can blame her! Pax practically enables these thoughts by excusing her past actions, and even a victim of cyberbullying forgives her because it would be 'hypocritical' (which makes no sense to me at all). Even though she was the perpetrator (alongside her friends, but I digress), Nikki is painted as the victim, as if everyone is being ""mean"" for no discernible reason. I think the worst part is when Pax asks if he loved her because of who she was or because she was perfect- that's not how that works! You don't have to be convinced that your is perfect to not think she'd take naked photos of a girl to humiliate her!
I think another thing that really turned me off to Nikki is how she remains the victim- even when other characters are justified in their anger towards her. For instance, a girl who had naked pictures of herself leaked becomes her friend and, when she finds out about Nikki's past, she gets mad. And yet, somehow, that turns around to have her being a 'hypocrite' for 'judging her too quickly'. When Pax , he takes on the full blame, without bringing up how . Nikki's parents being mad at her for posting those nudes of that girl? Their fault, not her's. Even Taylor, who you would think would be justified in her anger, is somehow the bad guy, to the point where Nikki makes this gross snippy comment: "Just this week, I saw an article in the community section of the newspaper about how the student body at O.I. is rallying to get Taylor elected as queen. It was a feel-good piece: kids making an effort to "turn the former bullying victim into a queen". Even when Nikki , she pretty much acts like Taylor being hostile to her is unjustified, and her apology is so weak that I rolled my eyes. I mean, it should be pretty indicative of her character when she blames the victims of bullying for not being assertive enough: "... if more people had the guts to look the cool kids in the face like that, they wouldn't feel so bold about trashing others". Okay, but what if, now here's a thought, the cool kids just didn't trash people?
One of the worst parts is when
Oh, also, eating disorders are romanticized at 22%, when Pax and Nikki are eating pizza and Nikki talks about how her former friends and her (and "any other girl") were obsessed with being skinny, to the point where Pax acts like he's an angel for giving her a meat lover's pizza. Also, misogyny with the whole ["Ugh you're such a girl." [...] "What's your excuse for all the veggies? Is it, like, girl math, where somehow you think getting veggies on top of pizza cancels out the fact that you're eating pizza?" 'I giggle because maybe that's a little bit true. ']. Jokes about kidnapping ('[...] would-be kidnapper - albeit a handsome and charming one- [...]), racism towards Asians ("We're treated to a few Asian businessmen butchering karaoke classics like "Achy Breaky Heart."), cheesy nonsense like singing "Let It Go" and Taylor Swift's "Mean", 'you aren't you if you're unhappy' abusive rhetoric ("My Pax is so strong and vibrant, and I don't think I'm really ready to see him any other way.").... No thank you.
More gross nonsense: * [Pax] "I'm old-school like that. A guy shouldn't lash out at a girl, and he really had no business putting his hands on you. Just because of a fight or whatever." () * He lets out a low whistle. "Yeah. You're rich." It's easy to come to this conclusion, staring at my huge brick house with the manicured front lawn, small mermaid statue, and circular driveway of crushed shells. But compared to the homes of the kids I used to go to school with, my house is nothing special. "A lot of the families who own businesses on O.I. ... their houses are even bigger," I say, hoping to downplay it. (Rich person saying they're not rich!) * There's the bachelorette party, with the drunk-as-a-skunk bride hamming it up to "Like a Virgin". (Which is supposed to be funny because either 1. the bride is drunk and therefore promiscuous or 2. the bride is assumed to be a virgin and the song is a Pun.... A swing and a miss after the anti-Asian b.s. before it) * The fact that Arrow CW is mentioned.... A show recently under fire for equating two disabled people to being the same person because of their penchant for technology... * She breaks into Taylor Swift's "Mean" with complete confidence and swagger. Her voice is clear and strong, and she looks right into the crowd as she plays. (Because if you sing to people about them being mean, they'll stop bullying you! Also, added cheesiness for being Taylor Swift's one song about being bullied) * "Not my style. No black minidress with a tail pinned to my ass and some ears. No trampy Strawberry Shortcake with striped kneesocks and red high heels. So lame and unoriginal." It was the look my friends had gone with for the past few years, but it bored me. (Wow, how edgy- you're Definitely Not Like Other Girls! With an added dose of slut-shaming!) * "[...] I wanted to leave with you, and that guy damn near molested me in the name of dancing." Pax clenches his jaw. "Yeah, you looked really miserable." (Oh, blaming victims of sexual assault)
Karole Cozzo has officially made her way onto my auto buy list! I remember reading How To Say I Love You Outloud last year and absolutely loving it, so How To Keep Rolling After A Fall was very high on my list of books that I wanted to get my hands on!
Cozzo writes with such emotion and feeling and I find myself connecting with characters that I honestly think I wouldn’t have if someone else had written them.
Take our MC Nikki Baylor for example. She used to be queen bee at her school, but an incident at a party turns her life upside down and she’s lost all her friends and even her family is somewhat estranged from her. She finds herself going through the motions these days and not in any way that can be described as good or healthy.
The incident that happens falls in the cyber bullying category, and while she’s not fully responsible, she’s the only one who has to own up to what happened and she’s the only one that there are repercussions for … and that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially for us readers.
The story starts out in an incredibly harsh way, and you can’t help but feel for Nikki and the situation she’s in … and it’s a harsh reality and part of me wants to cheer and say YES – she’s getting what she deserves but the other part of me has a broken heart because of how this one incident has changed her life in so many ways she never could have seen coming. The thing that makes it hard is that you see the ways that Nikki feels bad for what happened… not in the sense that she had all these consequences, but she truly feels remorse for being involved and not stopping it.
Enter Pax… you guys I have all the feelings in the world for him. Pax is cute, funny, sweet, charming … and in a wheelchair, paralyzed due to some bad choices on his part. He too had it all … a full ride to college, more than enough girlfriends, and goals to make something of his life. But he’s had to come to terms that some of what he wanted before just isn’t possible anymore. His internal struggles revolve more around going from this very active athlete to someone who has limits and that’s a hard pill to swallow for him some days, but he’s coming to terms with it and accepting that he can’t change the past.
I love that Pax is this amazing influence for Nikki… he finds out what her past holds and forgives her no questions asked. He moves on to what the future might hold for her instead. What starts as just a friendship (albeit with definite mixed messages) their relationship evolves and it’s lovely to see Nikki start accepting the past as the past and trying to move forward. And their relationship is so lovely.
I struggled so much with her family relationships. You guys this is where the true heartbreak came for me. Nikki reflects a lot on the connection she had with her father before everything happened… and then you see what their relationship is now and it’s so crushing to witness. These are the two people who should love you so unconditionally, that even when you truly mess up, they should be the two people you can count on for anything. It’s so hard to see the lingering disappointment and how this one thing caused a rift so big that all of their lives were changed.
Obviously there has to be some drama to this story otherwise it wouldn’t have gone anywhere… especially between Pax and Nikki. I thought it was the perfect amount… not overly done, and definitely realistic. Pax has limitations that he still hasn’t accepted for himself and he tries to use those to make decisions for the important people in his life, but Nikki isn’t going to let him get away with it.
I want to take one second to say something about the ‘friends’ that Nikki was involved with.
These are fictional girls and I honestly couldn’t hate them anymore than I do. Their actions are a horrible indication of their true nature and while the whole incident is sad, I’m glad that Nikki found out who they really were, it’s just sad that it had to happen this way.
Overall a wonderful story that never sugar coats the cyberbullying and really shows that there are consequences to our actions… but it’s also a story of second chances and learning to forgive yourself and a sweet romance with complex and interesting characters that will have you completely invested in their story!
Thank you to SwoonReads for the early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. It is educational, yet entertaining and contains a character in a wheelchair who has got to be one of the most positive people ever. There are themes of loss, but the book is more about getting back on your feet. This is such an important book that everyone should read!
This book has such an inspiring concept! Basically, a girl meets a boy in a wheelchair who completely changes her life. She learns how to be strong and realizes the importance of second chances. I loved how this book does an excellent job of educating readers about what it’s like to live life in a wheelchair while remaining easy to understand and actually pretty funny.
Pax was such an amazing character that I couldn’t help but love. He was my favourite character in the book and probably one of my favourite characters in YA. I found it interesting how Pax is already in a wheelchair at the start of the book and it isn’t a sob story about his accident. He seems to accept it and he’s become stronger because of it. Pax has such a great personality and a positive outlook on life that is honestly so inspirational. He also plays wheelchair rugby, which I found really intriguing, but I wish there were more details about it in the book.
There are some big themes of loss in How to Keep Rolling After a Fall, but the book isn’t really about that, if you know what I mean. Pax lost the ability to walk and a scholarship, and Nikki lost her friends and her reputation. However, the story is more about the aftermath of both incidences and getting past it. I found this to be really different from other books out there because the life-changing events weren’t really written, just talked about. I enjoyed how there wasn’t much whining as well, as that’s always a turn off for me.
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is an inspiring novel about second chances and forgiveness. There is a character in a wheelchair who is so positive and some themes of loss, but just the aftermath. This is such an amazing book that I would definitely recommend.
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall deals with a cyber bullying incident that leaves our main character, Nikki Baylor, expelled, friendless, and feeling like an utter disappointment. Until she meets Pax, a former water polo champion - that is in wheelchair.
Everything about this book is perfect. From the realistic-mistake-making characters, to Pax's high-spirited and lovable personality, this book is motivation and inspiring, belting the message that everyone deserves a second chance.
Pax is everything. He's hilarious, charming, handsome, supportive, and so lively; totally left me swooning. Despite his accident that left him paralyzed waist-down, he's so enthusiastic and upbeat, not allowing his disability to render him incapable or desolate.
Nikki is our lovable main character that makes mistakes, feels regret, and pushes forward. I love how relatable and realistic her character is. The friendship she builds with Sam is beautiful. Total goals.
I read this book in less than a day and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I love how it had the perfect balance of romance and teenage banter alongside thoughtful speeches and inspirational moments.
Definitely one of my contemporary favourites!
“Really. I'm a firm believer in new beginnings. Looking back all the time... It really starts to hurt your neck." He shrugs carelessly. "If you don't want to be defined by your past, you shouldn't have to be.”
Okay, let's get this straight. I have read many reviews about the book, quite a few of them are negative ones actually, and it makes me build up my own offence against it.
Undoubtedly, from the very beginning of the book, a lot of details start to make absolute no sense. First of all, I am utterly annoyed with the main character Nikki. Hell, the development of these characters, specifically her and Pax are furious, which makes it difficult to understand, and there comes the reason for the misunderstanding of Nikki. I get that the author wants something new in her book, by mentioning the issue of cyberbullying, however, in this case, what the character has caused is just beyond repair.
But then, what changes my mind is the raw way they think, act and how they decide to cope with the situation in the end. I realise that each and everyone of us does have their flaws and inperfections, and that's why I believe that we should be given a chance, to make things right and to learn from our own mistakes. Therefore, when led by this clear hindsight, I accept the fact that this book shows us how to actually hate and love a person at the same time, but still we choose to go with the least painful thing, which is to love and let love.
This book was decently the most relatable book I have read all year, and not counting that the MC and I share the same name! This book made me laugh, cry, and smile like crazy, it was amazing.
Anyway, this book is about Nicole, a girl who was involved in a cyberbullying incident that left her expelled from school. While working at a rehab center she meets Pax, a young man that is in a wheelchair due to a car accident. This leads to a relationship that takes a real world view and is very relatable to anyone with any disability.
Personally for me, having a chronic illness that could eventually kill me, this book felt relatable in the way that Pax doesn't want to burden Nikki with his disability, and for many people with a chronic illness or something like that, relationships can be one of the most crazy things that someone is faced with. And one thing I love is that Nikki doesn't see him as disabled. She sees him for the person he is, which can be hard to over come if a person has a condition that affects their whole life.
I love that this book illustrates that people with disabilities are NOT, in anyway, shape or form, defined by their illness or disability. They are normal people just like everyone else. This book is one that shows it.
Many of my fellow swooners, including my editor, warned me about how quickly I would fall for Pax once I started reading HOW TO KEEP ROLLING AFTER A FALL, but omg, they were not lying!
Karole Cozzo is ridiculously good at writing swoonworthy boys. FACT.
Of course, a super hot guy in a wheelchair is not the only reason that this book is full of so much heart Despite Nikki being a bully caught in the act, I liked her right away and could sympathize with how her family treated her (esp her father) after the Incident and the details of the actual act of bullying, which were complicated and realistic in how it went down. But then, Nikki is stronger than she thinks, especially now that she's separated from her so-called "friends" and rebuilding a life.
Her blooming relationship with Pax was fun and breathtaking to read - he sees her for who she is and who she can be, once she learns to move forward and learn, whle she sees the confident, strong boy who saves lives (not just hers, but many, many others). Gah. I mean, I can fangirl about them all day, but this book doesn't come out until August and you guys IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.
Plus, cafeteria jello and sushi. When you read it, you'll know ;)
An excellent read for Y.A. readers and older. It contains important messages about the consequences of cyber-bullying, but has an unusual twist. The narrator is one of several girls who participate in such an incident, but when it results in the attempted suicide of their victim, Nikki is the only one who has to take the fall because the prank was done on her computer. Her life instantly changes, and Nikki is treated like a criminal by everyone she once held dear. I was very impressed with this story. Many books today are written about the impact of cyber-bullying on the victims and their families. Few take into account that such acts can also affect the lives of the instigators in negative ways as well when they are exposed. Memorable Quotes: (Pg. 19)-“For a school full of holy people, they sure can make someone feel like a leper, I think.”
3.5 stars Okay this was such a cliché cheesy contemporary novel. Don't get me wrong,ya contemporary is actually my favorite genre only if the book has a good story line. This....this book didn't have it...at all!! I should've had realized it by reading the blurb but I didn't which was very dumb of me... It's actually got the most basic story line! Guy and girl meet randomly. Guy and girl become friends. Guy and girl fall in love. Guy and girl break up and then make up, making their so-called 'love' stronger then before...ooooohhhhhhhhhhhh. Yeah,no. Just no. I really liked Pax at first but then later on I was trying to finish this book because of it's cheesiness.
I've had my eye on this novel for quite some time now, but I never got around to reading it. Now that I finally read it, I wish I had picked it up even earlier, because I experienced so many emotions while reading this, it was crazy.
I was expecting to really dislike the main character, Nikki, since she's done awful things, but I was perfectly able to forgive her. I'm quite a forgiving person, so it helped, but I also think that seeing her side of the story makes it a whole lot different. I could relate to her, because when you're in a group, it's hard not to follow the leaders, or simply to say no when everyone says yes. Because I could understand her point of view, I quickly got over my initial anger and I was sad to see the way everyone treated her. I really disliked Nikki's former group of friends, but since she realized what kind of people they truly were, I think that she's simply better without them, so maybe she needed something like this to realize how bad her friends were.
On the other hand, Pax is such a sweet character! I loved how forgiving he was towards Nikki from the very beginning, even though it was really sad to see that he was the only one who didn't hold Nikki's actions against her. He was a bit hard to read, but I understood him more easily after he explained himself to Nikki. I loved his positiveness and his desire to make Nikki happier, which is why she needed someone like him so badly. Their relationship isn't easily, but I loved the way it flowed and seeing them together made me happy, no matter what kind of relationship they had. They truly bring the best in each other.
I think this novel has a lot of important themes. I loved the romance aspect of it, but I think my favourite part of it was the importance of mistakes, guilt, forgiveness, love and friendship. I've never been close to a situation like the one in this novel, but I think that reading this novel has made me more open, if not to bullies, to hearing everyone's point of view. I truly believe that everyone makes mistakes and that some of them can be forgiven, and this book reinforced that idea.
I thought that the ending was a tad bit too abrupt, especially since I loved the story so much that I happily could've read a hundred more pages of it, but this seems to happen to me a lot these days. It does bring my rating down a little bit, but I guess perfection doesn't exist!
I would very highly recommend this book. It's probably one of my favourite novels that I read this year!
It was kinda cute, but nothing outstanding. Also, I thought that whilst there were some serious topics mentioned in the book, and which were relevant to the characters, they just weren't dealt with that much.
Everything about this book was a cliche. Normally that is my jam, but in this book it just felt cringey & cheesy & awkward. Also, everything just worked out too perfectly. There was only like two chapters with actual drama, the rest was just Nikki wallowing in self pity or being pathetic and doing nothing, OR Pax being cute and everything being perfect and "Follow your dreams and everything will be perfect!"
However, the author did mention in an interview-ey thing in the back of the book that she wanted to write flawed characters who felt real. And this was done well. Every single character in this book annoyed me at some point, so yes. The characters definitely feel real.
Disclaimer: "Follow your dreams" Is one of my least favourite things to read about. I support this message, but I cannot think of a book which portrays it accurately. Everything always works out too perfectly for the characters. This book was no exception. Probably a large part of the reason I didn't like it.
But is was cute. I won't deny it. Earning a star for cuteness, despite the cringe.
**I received an advanced copy from Indigo in exchange for an honest review. All quotes taken from a pre-published copy may be altered or omitted from the final version. **
:) Guys. Seriously. This book. My emotions. New book boyfriend: Pax♥.
Once I started How to Keep Rolling After a Fall I couldn't stop. Seriously, 3:50AM I tweeted saying I needed to stop reading. I was at page 218/247. I ended up brining the book with me into my room (horrible idea) with the intentions of finishing it when I woke up. Instead I laid in bed for 10mins staring at my ceiling before I flipped on my lap and finished reading it. At 4:26AM I finished How to Keeping Rolling After a Fall swooning hard over Matthew Paxton♥.
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is another one of those contemporary romances that attempted to do something fresh and exciting, but didn’t achieve any of what it set out to do. It was more than just a little bit meh. It was completely dull. I didn’t connect with a single character and the writing style was so darn irritating. It grated my nerves throughout the whole book! But looking at all the fabulous reviews surrounding this book, I’m starting to think I am one of the few that think this. Looks like it’s time for another unpopular opinion rant from Rachel… Let’s go!
The two main things that stopped me from enjoying this book were (1) the writing style and (2) the characterisation, especially of our protagonist, Nikki.
The writing was juvenile to be blunt. The constant telling instead of showing annoyed me to no end. I especially wasn’t a fan of how the author dumped facts about of characters at us. Rather than showing us that our protagonist was into show choir and singing, we just got told it over and over again. We were told she missed her choir/team. We were told that she wanted to be on Broadway someday. We were told that she enjoyed being in the spotlight… and yet, we got to see her sing once (and she was tipsy and doing karaoke at a bar). I know there were circumstances surrounding this particular situation, but it was like that with almost every character. We were told they were shy or into cooking etc. but never actually shown them doing that/acting that particularly way so we could make that inference for ourselves.
The dialogue was also really cringe-worthy. First of all, Pax thought he was sassy and hilarious… and he just wasn’t. I like to think that - as a teen myself - that I know how teenagers speak and joke about and it’s honestly not like this. I literally couldn’t help rolling my eyes or laughing at how cringy the characters’ sense of humour were. They also attempted to sound profound and moving at certain times and you can imagine that that failed for a similar reason.
Characterisation was also a massive issue for me. I could not stand our protagonist! I just couldn’t connect to her on a single level. I know that she was having a hard time dealing with ‘the Incident’ but she didn’t help herself by constantly blaming everyone else for her problems rather than dealing with them. Does she ever feel sorry for the victim? No. She felt sorry for how the Incident ruined her life and that she got the majority of the blame for her and her friends’ crime. I wish her feelings towards the issue had been explored further because, in the end, I just found her whining irritable. I couldn’t come to care for her when I was too busy feeling awful for the victim.
The secondary characters were all under-developed. I didn’t feel that Pax really had much of a personality. I contribute this largely to the writing style, though. It was hard to get to know him as a character when we are just told all of his emotions. I also never felt that we got to know our protagonist’s best friend very well either. She had about two scenes and they were so lacklustre they don’t really count. I would have liked to see them bond more. Being isolated due to the Incident was a major part of our protagonist's problem and finally moving on and forming new relationships should have been integral to the plot… and it got no attention!
Something else that truly annoyed me was how Nikki’s relationship with her family was handled. After the Incident, I understand that Nikki’s parents would have been very disappointed and upset with her and I wanted to really get into the gritty parts of their struggles to get back to normality. But this book takes place a year after the Incident and their relationships just made no sense. I don’t believe for even a second that her parents would have treated like her that. Her father still couldn’t meet her eyes after 12 months of punishment? That is overkill, to say the least! If they truly had such a close relationship, you would think that he would have done anything he could have to help her bounce back. Yes, he would have been disappointed in her, but would he really have ignored her for so long? Let her go? Even if he had, why didn’t we explore this more? It would have been much more of a gritty and thought-provoking read if the author had unpacked familial relationships after such events instead of having these shells of characters wandering about, doing nothing. Her mother was another character that I just could not get a read on - she was all over the place. Her sister - Emma, I think - was another paradox. She was mentioned over and over again, but we had one scene with her at the very beginning of the story. Where was she the rest of the time? How am I meant to believe that they had a ‘close relationship’ when they literally didn’t interact? The entire familial situation just didn’t sit right with me.
Speaking of family, there was a particular decision made by Nikki which made me rage like the Hulk:
The plot was… wait, what plot? This book completely focused on the romance and there wasn’t much more to it than that - which is all well and good if the romance wasn’t so well, boring. I didn’t particularly like Nikki and I didn’t feel that we got to know Pax enough so I just didn’t ship them together really that much at all. End of story. If they stayed together or broke up, I wouldn’t really have blinked twice. Or cared. I just wasn’t invested in their relationship.
Overall, this book was not for me. The juvenile writing style really detached me from the characters, especially Pax. I had no real connection with the protagonist or her plight so I couldn’t get onboard with the romance either. The familial relationships should have been the focus of the story in my opinion, and because they were handled so poorly I found it really hard to care about the characters at all. This was just not my sort of romance but I will definitely try to give the author’s other book - How to Say I Love You Out Loud - a go because seemingly all of my friends adored it. Hopefully, I will too!
Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
To quote one of my favorite book-dogs, Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go: Poo, Todd.
So I really wanted to love this book. Because I love YA Contemporary and this one sounded great. I also love the cover. I didn't have high expectations because I tend to do that when it's a new-to-me author. And it didn't even manage to meet my low expectations. I was severely disappointed. I am not happy right now. This story had a lot of potential. A mean girl that redeems herself? A cute guy in a wheelchair? Oh yes, this could have been SO great. But for me, it wasn't. Let me list my disappointments, because lists are the way to go right now.
♦ The writing was choppy and awkward and felt so stiff and cliche to me. There were so many tacky and stupid lines of dialogue I was afraid that my eyes were gonna roll out of my face. I groaned out loud (waking the boyfriend in the process) and sighed a lot. It just didn't flow well and I noticed that a lot in the other elements of the book. Which we'll get to now.
♦ The story was all over the place. There was way too much drama that I just couldn't get behind and some of the elements, which I'll touch upon later, just completely pissed me off. Because NO. NO NO NO NO. I didn't like the way this story is executed at all. I read it in one go just because I knew I would never pick it back up again if I didn't and I don't want to DNF books too much anymore. So there. Good thing it wasn't that long.
♦ The romance was blahh. Very very blah. Its pacing, like the story, was all over the place. It went fast, then slow. Then fast again. Then stupid drama stopped it. Then it was back. I didn't buy it. I didn't like it. Go away. This is no OTP ship for the ages. Not even for a minute.
♦ The characters. OH MY THE CHARACTERS. I'm not even talking about the main character, who I'll get to later. The rest was just as stupid. The parents were just... what? Their daughters did a horrible thing, yes, but I didn't like how the parents treated Nikki. At all. They didn't even believe their daughter's side of the story and just went with what everyone else said. Because reasons. Bad Parenting 101. The love interest, Pax, was the best part of the story and he wasn't a very good one. His personality felt all over the place and the drama near the end was very much against his character judging by the rest of the book. It just didn't make sense. At all.
♦ Nikki. Our main character. OH NIKKI. HOW I LOATHE THOU. Nikki could have been a great character. I could have felt for her, have compassion. I wanted to root for her to redeem herself. BUT OH NOPE. I did no such thing. And you know why? I'm not even talking about all the amazingly stupid decisions she makes in this book. I'm not even takling about how horrible she deals with the things thrown her way in this book. OH NO. Because, and this is not a spoiler, Nikke did a bad thing. She let her friends post horrible pictures of a girl on her Facebook. Said girl attempted suicide because of it. This is a serious thing and I completely understand that girl. But nobody believes Nikki's story that she didn't do anything and she gets all the crap thrown on her. Her life is ruined. AND THERE'S THE PROBLEM. All Nikki thinks about is Nikki. HER life is ruined. People treat HER like crap for something she didn't do and she doesn't get it. She acts like SHE'S the victim in this story. SHE IS NOT. She's a horrible person that didn't do anything to stop her friends from doing a horrible thing. She is just as guilty. Because she should have and could have stopped the bad thing from happening. "When will people treat me like crap? I didn't do anything?" That's the point. You didn't do anything. You let it happen. YOU'RE A HORRIBLE, EGOCENTRIC, WHINY LITTLE GIRL NIKKI. And I do not like you. Go away.
So no, I did not like this one, as you might have noticed. Now excuse me while I go sulk in a corner, because blah. BLAH.
This was a hard one to determine a rating for. I absolutely hated the writing. It seemed so much like a 40 something year old trying to write like a teenager, and there were a lot of pop culture references I feel like someone googled "where do teens shop?" or "what band do teens like?" So that all bothered me a lot and I found it really hard to get past the horrible writing and out of touch point of view.
I found Nikki to be pretty whiny with very few redeemable qualities. She never seemed to be completely sorry for the cyberbullying she participated in, she was more sorry about the effects it had on her and her family. This was an interesting take since so much has been written about bullying, and we rarely see a story from the bully's side, but I personally feel like this was a bad message. She blames the entire "incident" on her friends, and the story is hardly even about the bullying but rather it's about her falling in love and be loved.
This is the part of the story I actually appreciated and I think a lot of teens could actually relate to. Nikki's parents are completely unforgiving, willing to give up their entire view of her over one mistake and not let it go. They don't hear her side of the story, there's no support, there's very little forgiveness. The way Nikki crumbles under that constant critique is very relatable, and unfortunately rings true for many parent/teen relationships.
Pax was a toss-up for me. He was completely likeable, sympathetic, the ideal guy in a YA book. The problem is he was totally unrealistic. NO TEEN BOY BEHAVES LIKE THIS. I think the author tried to justify his over-the-top noble persona by having him in a wheelchair after a life-altering accident. But he's way too deep and wise and understanding for him to be real. I think teens will eat it up, but I personally just kept thinking how ridiculous all the dialogue was.
And last, but not least, the horribleness that is the title of this book. So Nikki is the one that has fallen from grace by "accidentally" participating in some pretty extreme cyberbullying, for which she was not properly punished or remorseful, and she meets and starts dating Pax who is in a wheelchair after an accident where he was driving and goofing around with him friends. "How to keep rolling" when a character is in a wheelchair??? Is that supposed to be a clever play on words? Is it supposed to be cute? I assume the "fall" part is the metaphor for how Nikki fell from the spotlight and good graces, but then "keep rolling" is so on the nose, I found it insanely ridiculous and cringeworthy.
So while I definitely did not like this book, I can see where teens will get wrapped up in it. The love story is unrealistic, but real enough for girls to buy into. I doubt they'd care about the lack of resolution with the former friends or anything else. Even the epilogue that's a year later doesn't actually give a resolution to anything, leaving the reader not knowing what actually happened with Nikki. Did she go to a performing arts school? Unfortunately this will fit right in with the rest of the vapid "romance" YA books.
Review I read this book pretty early before its pub date mostly because I wanted something short for a long car ride I had. This seemed like it would work ok. Well, it worked PERFECT. Not only was did I have a 2 hour ride each way for my little trip but I was headed down by the Jersey Shore - where the book takes place. I am pretty sure it was meant to be!
After being involved in a cyber-bullying incident, Nikki is doing all the things she has to from the incident which includes community service, a new school, and counseling. When she meets Pax she finds someone who can look past the incident and get to know her without judging her. She finds out everyone deserves a second chance and to be loved.
First thing is yay for Jersey!! Love book that take place in my home state. I especially love a Jersey shore setting and a shoobie reference.
Second, I loved that this book was about the person who was the bully. I liked seeing what she went through and her feelings on the situation. I feel like we always get to see the bullied but this was different and I liked it. She was an easy character to like and root for despite the awful thing she took part in. I think she got what she did was completely awful and even if there were other people who were involved, she had to take responsibility for her own actions. Although sometimes she did feel sorry for herself I think that would be honest. I think you can still kind of feel bad for yourself on some level even if you were wrong. Regardless we get character growth with her and that is a huge plus in my book.
Also with all of this there was a definite parental presence in Nikki's life. Her mom was really involved, especially in making sure she was doing everything she needed to make up for her actions. Her dad was also around but distant because of what she did. I totally found this to be realistic. I could so see how a parent - either one - could kind of pull away out of disappointment for something their child did. Still there was improvements in their relationship, even if small, made throughout the story.
Then there is Pax. Oh, how I loved Pax. He was fun, funny, sweet and really pulls a lot of the best out of Nikki. Despite his condition, he is super optimistic but still a total realist as well. His good attitude was totally infectious - even through the pages to me, not just for Nikki. When things did get tough for Pax and it started to take a toll with him and Nikki it killed me because I loved them so much. I am happy to say there was a HEA that I was super on board with :)
While doing community service at a rehabilitation center, Nikki meets Pax, a wheelchair rugby player. Nikki's story is revealed slowly, but we eventually find out that she was expelled from her school for the part she played in an incident of cyber bullying. Now, ostracized by her friends and family, Nikki struggles to find a fresh start in her new school. She meets Sam, who was herself the victim of cyber bullying, but what will happen when Sam finds out about Nikki's dirty little secret? As Nikki's friendship with Pax grows, she slowly regains some of her confidence. But could this end up tearing them apart?
This book is not only a beautifully moving love story but also a timely social commentary. The author provides us with the interesting perspective of not the victim, but the perpetrator, of the bullying, and we are shown that there is always more than one side to any story. The trials and tribulations of Nikki's relationships with both Pax and her own family brought tears to my eyes.
Not to be missed.
I received this book in return for an honest review.
I knew I'd enjoy How to Keep Rolling After a Fall - because I'd loved K. Cozzo's debut novel - How To Say I Love You Out Loud, but I hadn't anticipated just how hard I'd fall for her two unlikely mains, Pax, a young wheelchair-bound man, and Nikki, a young woman in the aftermath of a bullying situation. Wow! Pax and Taylor's chemistry was amazing, and the heartbreaking couldn't / shouldn't push / pull between them kept me turning pages faster and faster. That's not to say this book doesn't have a solid heart. The difficult issues of bullying and the repercussions of online harassment are addressed beautifully. This book SHOULD be read by teens. (But don't forget to grab some tissues. I sobbed during a couple scenes.) A wonderful, heartbreaking book which will stay with you.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.
My, my, this was a sneaky little book. When I read the synopsis, I was expecting to laugh, swoon, and maybe even cry a little bit. And while I did do all of those things, I didn't do them for the reasons I expected.
Cyber bullying is a big deal. There is simply so excuse for doing something as awful as posting sexual pictures of a drunk girl on the internet, and that is exactly what Nikki and her friends did. As the story progresses we learn more about how something so disgusting happened and why Nikki did what she did, but there is no good reason to do something like that and the book never lets Nikki off of the hook for her bad choices. Even when I felt sorry for her because a cute boy yelled at her for being a bully and all the kids at school treated her like a leper, those were consequences for her actions so I didn't cry for her or anything.
What did make me cry for her, what made me care about this girl so much even though she did such a stupid and mean thing, was the fact that her parents treated her the same way everyone else did. There is just something about parents--the two people in the world who are supposed to love and comfort you no matter what--treating you like they don't know who you are or like who you have become that makes you want to cry. It felt like Nikki's mom was perpetually punishing her for what she did as opposed to trying to teach her to be a better person. And her dad? Well, he didn't even want to look at her.
These reactions would have been easier to accept if Nikki didn't already feel remorse for what she did and had not spent the last six months working hard to earn their trust back. The fact is, kids make mistakes sometimes, but I can't think of anything that should keep a parent from comforting their child when she is in pain. She got enough blame from the rest of the world, she didn't need it from them too.
Okay, enough of the stuff that made me cry. On to the happy parts.
Nikki meets Pax in the first chapter of the book, and he is amazing. He is strong, handsome, funny, and in a wheel chair. The great things is that he isn't a wonderful guy who happens to be in a wheel chair, he is a wonderful guy because he is in a wheel chair.
I got the feeling that when he had a "perfect" body and felt invincible, like so many athletic, young people do, he was a nice enough guy. But when he had is accident, it changed him in some amazing ways. He learned to rely on his brains more than his brawn and he started paying more attention to the world around him. This made him so empathetic and thoughtful that anyone in their right mind would fall head over heals in love with him for that reason alone. But on top of the thoughtfulness, he was charming and gorgeous.
I never felt like the author gave him these great attributes to make up for the fact that he was paralyzed. It's just Pax was a strong person who became stronger in the face of adversity.
The relationship with him and Nikki was so cute. Before she met Pax, Nikki felt like the whole world hated her (And she wasn't really wrong). She was lonely, consumed with guilt, and miserable. Because Pax was such an emotionally strong person, she never even thought twice about unloading some of her baggage on him, and he seemed to enjoy taking care of her. however, Nikki didn't become so attached to him that it became unhealthy, and she took care of him right back. They had each other's backs.
This was one of those books that kept me interested the entire way through. Even when I was mad at some of the characters, I never wanted to give up on them. I have read a lot of good books lately and I am not easy to please, but this book was simply fantastic. If you want a cute, emotional, romantic read with some great character development, you've found it.
Because of language and some mild sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 15 and up. There were no sex scenes.
How To Keep Rolling After A Fall is one of those books that reminds me why I prefer to read YA and adore it more than any other genre. You see, protagonists in YA have this charm and innocence that comes with youth, and the antagonists in YA are all capable of a total 180, ultimately becoming heroes of their own stories. There are no “good” or “bad” people in YA, only young people who can sometimes think they are invincible—and so make mistakes. I’d like to think that this is exactly the message that Karole Cozzo tried to convey through her book. This book is about a bully, you see, and that’s what makes it one of the rare gems in the genre.
Nikki Baylor used to be one of those perfect girls in her school—perfect clothes, gorgeous friends, attention from everyone. A party at her house, however, changes everything, when an incident almost leads to a girl’s suicide. Reeling in the aftermath of what this incident has done to her own reputation as well as that of her family, Nikki struggles to maintain a semblance of calm while her insides are in a state of constant turmoil. And so while she completes her hours of Community Service, she meets Pax, a wheelchair-bound young man who helps her in ways foreign to her up until then. Nikki was an interesting MC, bringing the perfect amount of guilt and helplessness, but also an aura of I don’t deserve this into the story—making it authentic and relatable. I did not understand her situation, having no personal experience of her circumstances, but I could easily imagine her plight and empathise. High school life revolves around friends and having them betray you is possibly the worst thing that could happen at that point—and so Nikki’s character was easy to relate with.
The book does an absolutely brilliant job of being a platform for educating the reader—which is why I called it rare in the first place. Pax is a character I know for a fact that readers across the board will love. His struggles and the challenges he faced as a disabled person will be a good start for readers to get a glimpse of what life is like for different people in different situations. That being said, however, it would be unfair on my part to only define Pax as a character on a wheelchair. He was one of the main reasons Nikki took control over her life and strived to move forward. His happy spirit and constant positivity was definitely touching, and his ability to firmly back what he believed in was a refreshing change from some boys that we see in YA. This boy was neither afraid of emotions, nor was he any sort of a childish brat. He was maybe a bit too mature for a 17 year old, but it didn’t bother me too much considering he was in a situation that not all 17 year old boys are in.
All this being said, however, I do have a couple of issues with the book. For starters, insta-love. I don’t like it under any situation, and I did not like it here. A romance within the first 20% of the book? No, sir. It was too fast for my comfort, and I much rather preferred Pax and Nikki to have been friends, because they both really needed some. Secondly, I somehow did not particularly enjoy the fact that Pax helped Nikki greatly; encouraging her, being a shoulder, being a damn good friend. Nikki, on the other hand, came of as very very obsessed with her own problems. This kind of a relationship seemed very unhealthy, and I wouldn’t encourage anything like this ever. Any relationship, no matter what, has to be a two-way street, and that seemed to be lacking here.
I have no qualms at all about Karole Cozzo’s writing though, because it flowed beautifully. I loved reading the laid back, easy writing prose and more than anything, I loved seeing how Nikki grew as a person and as a young adult into someone I would love to be friends with. How To Keep Rolling After A Fall is an inspiring story and covers so wide an array of subjects, that it is genuinely impressive. Family, forgiveness, friendship and being given a second chance are just some of the themes the book touches on, and it is a definite recommendation.
I was provided a free earc of this book by Swoon Reads through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. This did not in any way, however, influence the content of this review.
I was introduced to Karole Cozzo through Netgalley when I read her first book… and I LOVED it! I even went out afterwards to buy it. I was so excited for her next book and immediately bought this when it came out. It took me longer to actually get to it (TBR lists that never end!) BUT I finally did and boy do I regret waiting. I love Cozzo’s writing style and how it elicits so much emotions. I don’t really have anything in common with Nikki, nothing at all really. However, I was able to connect with her. I felt what she felt and understood her. Her situation is tricky because she is caught in the whole cyberbullying incident. She isn’t directly responsible for it but she didn’t stop it either. However, as you read on, you can tell she really did felt remorse. The outcome of her taking the fall for the cyberbullying was incredibly hard and how she is treated by both her family and her “best friends” was truly heartbreaking.
Enter Pax – who is everything that I would want in a guy. He’s the total opposite of me and of Nikki. He’s very uplifting and positive. He’s charming and funny (wait guys, I’m funny too, so not the TOTAL opposite of me haha). Anyway, he is going through his own challenges and because of some bad choices, he was paralyzed. I like how he has come to terms with what happened but that he also still struggles, especially when it comes to Nikki. I love the way their relationship was weaved together. They definitely bring each other up. At first, it only felt like Pax was helping Nikki out but then you see the synergistic (big fancy word I learned in nutrition lol) effect of their relationship. Basically, they work together to produce a greater effect.
What I love about this book was all the struggles they went through – aye does that make me sound like a sadistic reader? Let me explain. I love their challenges because you get to see how they worked to overcome it. I liked that there wasn’t this simple solution and that it just wasn’t done overnight. They worked hard for it. I mean, it also added the drama, which HELLOOOO! Bring out the tissues! I also liked that it dealt with cyberbullying. I feel like that form of bullying is increasing nowadays with the technology and even though it kind of was like PSA, it didn’t feel like one. There are dangers to cyberbullying and ignoring it or letting it happen doesn’t help the victim. Well, that’s my PSA of that day.
It takes real guts for an author to write a story about a main character who is not supposed to be liked. But I admire her for being able to tap inside Nikki's head and then leave us reflecting on what kind of people we are and what is it that makes us, us.
First and foremost, PAX. I have found a new book boyfriend and he is seriously everything! A horrible accident has left Pax in a wheelchair, and God, he embraces his life and looks at all the good rather than bad and I couldn't help but fall in love with him. He is truly what anyone could aspire to be. So confident and hilarious, such a beautiful and realistic outlook on life that he has.
I should applaud Ms. Cozzo for so many things (Pax, Pax and Nikki, "Haters Gonna Hate"), but what I am so in awe of is how realistically and powerfully she is able to write emotions. I found myself crying various times because of how real Nikki's feelings are and felt when being put in various troubling situations. Nikki has dealt with her punishments after not having stopped her supposed best friends from cyber-bullying a fellow schoolmate, but despite not having to like her, I felt for her so much. She goes through the fallout of family and friendships, living with her new tarnished reputation, but she goes throughout the whole story questioning who she really is, bettering herself. And I absolutely love that. I love that despite the crap that has been thrown at her, she finds a way to make things right, because not all people are truly bad.
One single mistake can truly ruin a person's once planned out future. We see this with both Nikki and Pax and I love that they're able to lean on each other to get by. Where Pax was once unsure and scared, Nikki was there to reassure him. Where Nikki was sad and alone, Pax was there to show her confidence and love.
This story just made me fall in love. With the characters, the story, the author and her writing. I'm so grateful for this story and I'm so damn happy I picked this up on a whim! It's definitely a favorite! ....But I really do need more Pax. *laughs nervously*
Trigger warnings: bullying, ableism dear God so much ableism, mentions of attempted suicide, mentions of car accident, toxic friendships, slut shaming
Okay so essentially the premise of this book is that Nikki and her friends were responsible for a girl trying to end her life because they took compromising pictures of her with two guys and posted them on social media. The photos were posted to Nikki's Facebook account from Nikki's computer on Nikki's wifi. And yet at no point in the story does Nikki take any kind of responsibility for this. Instead, she consistently implies that it was her friends who pushed for it to happen. And, like, that may well be the case, girl. But YOU were still involved. It's not like you were asleep or in an exam or they set up a fake account in your name. It was your account. You were there. Take some fucking responsibility for your actions.
Anyway, Nikki is a terrible person from start to finish. At one point she offers a shitty apology to the girl in question and instead of actually, you know, apologising, she gets all "I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough to stand up to my friends", which is not an apology at all.
And all of this is before you get to the seemingly endless ableism brought to the story courtesy of her relationship with Pax, who's a paraplegic thanks to a car accident that he acknowledges was his responsibility and that he attempts to make amends for by being a 911 operator. Would I be even remotely comforted by a 19 year old 911 operator? Absolutely not. But I digress.
I quite liked Pax as a character. And I quite liked Sam as a character. But Nikki and her "he's hot...for a guy in a wheelchair" nonsense can just get straight in the bin. If you want to give me a story about a bully, you need to actually make her CHANGE. And Nikki doesn't.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
This was my first book from Karole Cozzo, and I would definitely be interested in checking out more from her in the future. As a whole, How to Keep Rolling After a Fall is a solid YA story that will inspire many teens (and even adults) to appreciate what they have in life, and remember not to take things for granted. However, this being said, I did have my ups and downs with this book. There were a couple things that I didn't really like, but they were relatively minor overall. Ms. Cozzo's writing is very real, and flows naturally. The characters she has created are very well written and incredibly realistic. I liked the spin she took in regards to the plot and the point-of-view of the story, and it gave the book an overall better feel because we were able to see from a different perspective than other books with this same theme.
One of the things I appreciated about this book was the way in which Ms. Cozzo portrayed Pax's (our main character's love interest) disability. She wrote his character very well, and speaking from experience of knowing someone who is in a wheelchair, I do feel that Pax's behavior and attitude was realistic (albeit a bit mature for someone his age in regards to his deep thoughts, but that just made his character more enjoyable to me because let's face it...most 17-year-old guys aren't like 17-year-old guys in books). Many people do not understand the challenges and the feelings associated with being in a wheelchair, and Ms. Cozzo did a great job at giving Pax's feelings a voice throughout the story. Many authors do not portray this so well, and this made the story more enjoyable for me. Pax is definitely not perfect or overemotional, but he is incredibly real. However, I never fell in love with him like I do in other stories. Maybe because this book was relatively short, but I just never made that connection to him. Don't get me wrong, I definitely loved his character and I liked his addition to the story, but I just never felt like he was book boyfriend material.
Our main character, Nikki, was an interesting lead. This ties into what I mentioned earlier about the perspective of this book. You see Nikki was a bully and currently her life is in shambles due to her actions. I liked being able to read from the "bully's" POV because this is not something typically seen in YA right now. While Nikki did have her moments where she got on my nerves, she is a great lead character. You see a transformation in her character over the course of the story, and you can tell she does feel sorry for her actions. However, this doesn't excuse her prior actions, and there were times where it seemed as if she was more sorry for herself (and thus how her current situation) than sorry for her actions. This was something that did bother me a bit while reading, but towards the end, I think it was clear that she was regretful of what she did and how her actions affected someone else's life.
One thing that I did appreciate about both Pax and Nikki was the way their relationship developed. It seemed very naturally, even though it was a bit fast for my taste. That being said, they were never annoyingly in love and making moony eyes at each other. Pax and Nikki had a cute relationship that helped both of them grow and learn. I also did like the confrontation between Pax and Nikki towards the end of the book because I thought it was something that needed to be said as it was very true. Regardless, Pax could have gone about the whole thing in a better way, but when emotions are running high, reason sometimes goes out the window. Again, this is why I liked Ms. Cozzo's writing as it was extremely realistic. This is exactly how I could imagine this scene playing out between two people who are in the situation they are in during this book.
While the ending was the best for me, this book is definitely one to check out if you are fans of this type of story. Is this story revolutionary? Not really. And yes, there were some things that I didn't quite like about the story. However, I really enjoyed Karole Cozzo's writing and the story she created. She captures what it is to be a teenager today very well, and I definitely will be checking out more from her in the future!
This book was so much more than I expected it to be. At its heart, this is a story of redemption and forgiveness and finding your way past your worst choices. And, let's face it, we all have choices we regret - it's how we deal with them that matters.
The synopsis does a great job of describing the plot, so I'll jump right into my review.
What Fed My Addiction:
All the feels. This book put me through an emotional wringer and never let up. Not only did it make me cry (always a big bonus in my book), but I also found myself laughing at times, getting angry at others, and completely swooning over the plethora of sweet moments between Nikki and Pax. This is the single biggest factor that made this book shine for me - I felt so incredibly emotionally invested in these characters that I felt their every joy and pain. For me, this is the sign of a fantastic book!
Flipped perspective. We see lots of books about people who are bullied, but when was the last time you read a books from the perspective of the person who did the bullying? Let's face it, we don't often feel like we want to see this perspective because we don't want to relate to the person who did something hateful. And this book forces us to do that. Now, the only reason this works is because Nikki is remorseful for her part in what happened (and not solely to blame) and she's facing the consequences. It was interesting to see how group mentality makes cruelty seem okay to people sometimes and to understand how situations like this can actually happen. Don't get me wrong - Nikki's (and her friends') actions were never condoned in any way, but this book shed light on how things can get out of hand quickly and actions can be taken just a little bit further and a little bit further until you reach a point of no return and the damage can never be undone. Nikki had to come to terms with her part in that (and get past the bitterness of others' part in it - and how she was the only one to face consequences). She also had to come to terms with the realization that forgiveness might be very hard to come by for everyone involved. I thought that Nikki's journey was both realistic and poignant and it really highlighted how we can find redemption, even when our own horrible choices cause pain.
Pax. Anyone who doesn't swoon over Pax in this book must have a heart of stone. Pax is the kind of leading man who you fall in love with right along with the protagonist. I loved that we met him after he had already come to terms with his disability - he was strong and confident. But he certainly wasn't perfect. Even though he'd accepted some of his limitations and hardships, he had a hard time believing that Nikki would be able to do the same, especially without feeling sorry for him. He, understandably, had a very difficult time letting her in and trusting that his heart when his mind told him that things couldn't work out between them. The romance in this book was so incredibly sweet, but it was also realistically difficult - there were some major hurdles for Nikki and Pax to overcome and some truly painful moments between them that were heartbreaking!
What Left Me Wanting More:
Not much. For some strange reason, I got caught up in reading some of the negative reviews for this book when I pulled it up on Goodreads in order to write this review (I don't know why, since that's not something I normally do), and I was honestly kind of shocked at some of the ranty reviews that got posted. Don't get me wrong, the overall ratings were still very high, but there were a few people who really didn't like this book and they had a lot to say about it. But, honestly, after reading those reviews, I don't feel like I could agree with almost anything they said. It made me feel almost defensive - you'd think I'd written the book! Anyway, I'm not going to claim that this book was flawless but its positives so outweighed its minor flaws for me that I can't really even think of what they were.
I'm incredibly glad I read this book. If you're a fan of contemporaries, I highly recommend it! I give it 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***