“I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.”
This was actually a rather refreshing story. I didn’t have very high expectations going into it, simply because I’d never heard of the author before, so I had no idea what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Though most of the huge “plot twists” were easily predictable, it was still a nice, angsty romance.
“I’ve never been normal and I’m tired of being polite.”
Hannah is not my favorite protagonist that I’ve ever read in a romance story, but she didn’t drive me crazy like a lot have. She had a lot of internal issues, and struggled a lot with things like self-worth and confidence, thanks to her mother’s controlling ways in childhood. I think the most irritating thing was just how often she would demean herself; it was overwhelming how huge chunks of the text would just be her talking about how she was a monster and how horrible she was. It doesn’t exactly set the scene for a romance. It also missed the mark of being a “dark” romance story with a troubled heroine, because often her mindset came across as whiny, not dark and troublesome. I will concede, though, that her struggles are understandable, and I’d be lying if I said I never indulged in a little negative self-talk every now and then. Humans will be human. It was encouraging to see her finally overcome it at the end of the book, which redeemed the character in my eyes.
Sean was the more refreshing character. He was the town “bad boy”, but lacked the stereotypical heavy baggage that usually accompanies the bad boy character. As a result, he didn’t really give off the “bad boy” vibes. In fact, in hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what made him the “bad boy”. He was a gentleman with Hannah, and never ever pushed her farther than she wanted to go. He was her shoulder to cry on during her struggles with her mother, and he never shied away from her tears. When she admitted she wanted a commitment type of relationship from him, he didn’t run in the opposite direction. Sure, he was the town mechanic, but he also owned the business, and last time I checked, doing something you’re good at and that you enjoy for a job is perfectly fine, even if it doesn’t require a college education (though it does need to be legal). He was a kind, sweet character, and I really enjoyed that for a change. Maybe the fact that he didn’t have as much money as Hannah and her crowd was what garnered him the “bad boy” label. But then again, Hannah hated the rich crowd her parents had been friends with, so she and Sean were technically always on the same page.
It may seem like I’ve been overly critical of the characters, especially considering the 4 star rating I gave it. I’m just trying to be honest. In reality, what really sold the book for me was something that I’ve been pretty critical of: Hannah’s struggles. I know what it’s like to want to please your parents, even if it makes you miserable. I know how hard it is to succeed at college when you don’t really like what you’re studying (granted, I didn’t fail out, I transferred, but hey to each their own). Her struggles are very real, and it was nice to see my thoughts on paper in the form of Hannah’s. She made comments like:
“it’s like I finally fit in my own skin.”
“I’m still a baby, and if I start making the right choices now, the whole world is mine for the taking.”
Her road to realization is the one I’ve slowly been crawling along the past few months, and it really is freeing.
While the characters had their flaws, they were still deep and complex, not stock characters. Hannah was on a journey that I think a lot of people can relate too, and the romance aspect didn’t hurt. I would definitely recommend this to fans of the new adult genre and college aged kids. It’s on shelves now, so head on over to your favorite bookstore or website!