Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
Spoilers (sorry 🙂 )
A pushy counselor, school bullies, a neglectful mother, and a dead father have ruined seventeen-year-old high school senior Michelle Pearce’s perspective on life. A social reject living in self-imposed exile, Michelle has little use for anything or anyone—until Nathaniel comes along. A high school dropout who works three jobs to care for his dying grandmother, he’s all but convinced Michelle that there is some good left in humanity.
And then humanity proves him wrong. The unforgivable happens, destroying Michelle’s newfound faith in life and threatening to unravel a love in the making.
Whew….Emotional read. What I liked and also disliked is the hard life Michelle had. As a parent myself, I can’t believe a parent would let their child be bullied as Michelle was. I felt horrified that Michelle’s mother did not stand up for Michelle nor believe Michelle when as a young girl (age 6), she told her mother what the boyfriend did to her. But that is just me. As well, I do realize in life that not everyone is the “perfect” parent….and that we all must deal with the parent(s) we have and that certainly added volumes to the story, Having the mother as a central, albeit “lame”, character in the book was good as often in young adult books we see the parental figure take a non-existent presence in the story.
The writing of these sensitive issues: rape, bullying and death were handled very well, especially considering the story is being told by Michelle herself. I enjoyed the symmetry in the story as well….all the good that came into Michelle’s life: Nathaniel and Wolfie, her emancipation and Nathaniel’s grandmother. Their love story unfolded in what seemed to me a very real and possible progression. And that made it more real.
I was pleased that indeed Nathaniel is a good guy, damaged in his own way,….sticking by his gal through thick and thin…and trust me….the road is NOT smooth. His fortitude was uplifting, especially in a world where it is very hard to find the good ones. I loved the way the love story unfolded, slow, steady, believable. It was hard for Michelle to trust, but Nathaniel hung in there. Watching the trust between these two grow was very special. I also loved and chuckled as a result of the “quest” the grandmother sent the two of them on as her final gift the them both. What a wise old woman…(?)…or maybe just an eccentric old woman.
If I had any dissatisfaction with the book, it was that I was confused for a brief moment or two while reading and it seemed that I read one segment and then following that, I was re-reading the same segment. Once I caught on (guess I should read before midnight?), I did connect the flow of the story.
The complete story of the bullying was well told. In this day and age when we expect kids to handle their own problems, I thought that Michelle did the best that she could. If her mother had been a supportive and engaged parent, then of course much of the angst with respect to the bullying would not have been such a central part of the book. I literally wanted to beat the bully’s up myself….I felt such emotion. At the same time, I was totally thankful that my child has not had to deal with the cruelty of other kids!
To put it succinctly….engaging story, great storytelling, great read.