“Gram told me once that there are moments that stay with us for the rest of our lives. Some of them are beautiful. Some are painful. And some don’t seem to matter at all until much later. But some, like this one, this moment about to happen, had the potential to be life-altering.”
In a word, this book was beautiful. It was deep yet lighthearted, it was a romance novel but also a novel that contained extreme grief. This book deals alot with death, grief, and guilt, which can make it rather heavy at times. There were times I was pulled into the characters’ grief; that’s possibly because I understood a bit what Monroe was dealing with, and also due to Juliana Stone’s superb writing. I’ve previously read the second book in this series, so there were moments I probably understood a bit better than other readers, which might have contributed to my higher rating.
For me personally, the mark of a good book, and the type of book that stays with me, are the kinds in which I relate deeply to at least one of the characters. In this particular story, I not only related well to Monroe, there were also certain times I understood how Nate felt. Nathan (Nate) is dealing with an extreme amount of guilt after drunkenly driving his car into a telephone pole. While he escaped with just a few scratches, his best friend Trevor was severely injured and has been in a coma for weeks. Throughout the novel Trevor’s health declines, which creates turmoil within Nathan. Monroe is dealing with the guilt of the accidental death of her brother, which she feels responsible for. Unlike Nathan, she is immersed so deeply in this guilt it has stripped all the joy and vibrancy out of her life. She refuses to grow attached to anyone, and misses the anti-depression pills she used to rely heavily on. Essentially, Nathan and Monroe meet and quickly recognize the guilt that weighs the other down, which is what brings them together. I have to admit, I initially didn’t see any chemistry between the two. She was too shut off from the world, and he was too stuck up. However, their personalities soon began to shine through the walls they had built, and wow was there ever chemistry.
While I’m not exactly proud of it, I relate to Monroe a lot. There were times she said something and it felt like a punch in the chest, because at one time I’d had the exact same thought. Granted, that’s why I read. I read to know I’m not alone, I read to relate. There’s a moment where she’s reminiscing about a party and says,
“Any guy who approached was shot down because I had no idea how to act or what to say. I studied my friends. I watched them laugh and have fun. I watched them dance and act crazy, and I watched them kiss and cuddle. It made me furious. It made me sick…and it made me so sad. Because no matter how hard I tried to be that girl-to be the one who was light and happy, the one who my parent’s wanted back- I couldn’t be her. I knew she didn’t exist anymore, and I was pretty sure she was never coming back.”
I’ve been there. It’s why I, a college student, avoid parties and boys. Monroe found her healing, and maybe one day I will too. But I know the feeling of missing the pills because they made everything numb. But I loved Monroe’s character development. She goes from surly to sweet, and the journey to get there is poignant and beautiful and inspiring.
I also had a lot of respect for Nate’s character. You would think he would be a horrible guy; he almost killed his best friend because he was driving drunk. But really, he’s not. He accepts full responsibility, and even acknowledges that the only reason he isn’t locked away in juvie is because his daddy pulled some strings. It hurt to see Trevor’s father rip him to shreds in the waiting room at the hospital, but it made moments like the one at the end of the book that much more poignant. It made the moments with his family that much sweeter. Monroe was exactly what he needed, and he was what she needed. I loved their shared outlook on life, that sometimes it throws shit at undeserving people, and instead of blaming someone you need to handle it yourself. That’s what a lot of people don’t understand about life. It’s never going to be fair, but maybe if you have someone at your side, it’s not so bad.
I give this book a 5/5, mostly because it hits pretty close to home with me. I can understand why some people would be put off by Monroe’s lifeless and bitchy attitude at the beginning of the book, and the extreme amount of pain Nate’s in. I can also see how some people felt they didn’t get enough closure at the end, but I’ve read the second book in the series, so I knew there was a happily ever after waiting for Monroe and Nate. It’s not an easy read.However, if you’ve ever struggled with loss, depression, grief, or guilt, I recommend this book strongly. Books make us feel like we’re not alone. They’re a “constant friend.” So go on, pick this book up.
Cover gets a 5/5, like the other one in the series. The font is perfection, and the colors are bright and attention catching. I also like that he’s looking over his shoulder at her, and we can’t see her face. It’s a well put together cover.