So many people told me ‘You just have to read this one’, ‘its awesome’, etc and I did the ‘ya-ya, I will. I’ve got it in my TBR pile’. Well hel-lo, they were all right. Truthfully, deep down I knew that it would be good and would grab my emotions, but that’s exactly why I shied away from this book. And yes, I had to pull out my tissue a few times. In the right mood, I love it when a story squeezes my heart like that.
To summarize, this is the story that is about two hurting teenagers who seem all wrong for each other, but connect deep in their very cores and grow to be exactly what each needs from the other.
Echo Emerson was a girl who had it all going for her from the perspective of those at a casual glance- good grades, good friends, a family, artistic talent, a boyfriend, but that was inexplicably all gone after her sophomore year when something happened to leave horrible scars on her arms and her brother died close to the same time. Echo can’t remember the events of the time it happened and becomes a ghost of the person she once was. She struggles now against her dad’s high expectations, her feelings of her step-mom being pregnant, her mom being out of the picture, her grief over her brother and her desire to know what happened which brings a new therapist on the scene.
Like Echo, Noah had it all too until his parents died in a house fire and he was separated from his brothers in the foster system. He gets bounced around from one bad situation to the next until he ends up in his current situation where he’s at least made friends with two other foster kids his age that live there and the adults at least don’t mistreat him. He lives for the chance to get his brothers back and make a real family together again. His grades have tanked and his other behaviors make him a candidate for the new therapist’s caseload.
From the first moment they meet outside the new therapist’s office Echo and Noah share a spark too bad the first spark is antagonistic. Echo agrees to make some money by tutoring to fix up her brother’s dream car so she’ll have something of him left and Noah agrees to attend tutoring to make a good impression on his little brothers’ social worker. As the school year progresses, they deal with their separate issues and forge a friendship and a relationship that defies the minds of even their friends, but in the end their issues might be too big to keep them together or allow them to find happiness.
When I first read the deets on Noah and Echo’s backstory, I got a bit concerned. Emotional I can handle; unnecessary angst not so much. Reading this from an adult perspective I saw pretty close to the beginning what needed to happen for the best and what was going to happen if the author had a drop of human kindness in her (and she does) to finish this story on a high note. Knowing where it was all going didn’t detract from my pleasure in reading the story. I loved this fantastic character-driven plot that shifted back and forth between Echo and Noah’s perspectives. They both saw their situations through their own emotional grids and I loved how their dialogue with their counselor, Mrs. Collins, was the grounding in objectivity they and the story needed. Every high school should have a Mrs. Collins. That woman was perfect like Mary Poppins being professional, compassionate and putting it all on the line with both the teens and their parents. Can you tell who my favorite character is? Haha!
I also enjoyed how the romance angle was handled. It stopped and started, started over and took its time which was appropriate considering where they were in their lives. Don’t get me wrong! The hormones were raging and they both wanted more, but took turns being the voice of reason.
As to the characters, Noah and Echo were so well written that I loved learning all about them both flaws and triumphs and then watching them grow. They went through their moments separately and together, but they owned them and worked hard toward change. Both were so courageous. Their separate posse of friends was enjoyable to know and read about. My heart broke a few times for the life that Noah, Beth and Isaiah had lived and I’m glad that Beth and Noah (as well as Lila) get their own stories. I have another favorite character besides Mrs. Collins, who shall remain anonymous due to spoiler issues that I liked from the beginning. This person was flawed, but also misunderstood and I was so glad to see my faith in the person was justified.
When it comes to the caution elements, I wouldn’t recommend this for younger teens due to some of the scenes and content. There are no sex scenes or violence, but there is the use of strong language, drugs, alcohol and disturbing flashbacks with Echo’s mom.
As to recommendations, this is definitely for those who enjoy their YA Contemporary Romance with some darker depths and a character-driven plot.