Emotional story that focuses on friendship, family, love and loss.
I wanted to read this because I enjoyed emerys first book. Also books that deal with the aftermath of grief ate speaking to me as is the promise of a sweet and nerdy love interest.
I adored that friendship and family were featured asking with the introspective healing and handling fears and the way grief changes the main character throughout. I grew up very xml lose with my grandma and really related with her wanting to share her secrets and get advice. Her grandma like mine is dealing with memory loss and it is hard to see someone you love dealing with those types of health issues and the fear that you might have to watch them forget who you are.
I liked that she was organized and goal oriented. Her list has things that she believes will stretch her and hopefully guide her back to some sense of normalcy and happiness after tragedy.
I liked Paige`s character and I connected with her pretty well. She has several things going on that makes her story have an emotional impact. She is recovering from the accidental drowning of her boyfriend. Its left a pretty big impact on her. She hasn't nightmares about drowning and she doesn't do anything near standing water now. There's also her parents who were divorced and she was actually kind of relieved because of their fighting... she just saw that they made each other miserable. But now they're dating again and she is afraid that it will happen again.
I like how friendship was a big theme in this book. however having three best friends was kind of overwhelming for me at times. The girls all have different personalities, different ways that they met Paige and different families difficulties of their own. So not really sure why I had such a hard time remembering which was which unless it's just the case of being handed too many characters all at once.
The romance was pretty sweet. I like that she had a crush on Ryan even before he was popular. I even like her reasoning behind it because she had seen him with his sister who had cancer and he was dancing shamelessly in the middle of the grocery store just to make her laugh. Ever since then she has harbored the crush on him. But in the process of trying out new things in order to help her have a better year and also wanting to get closer to Ryan she starts falling for his very nerdy but also very sweet cousin Max.
I love her friendship with Max and even though it started out as a reason just to get closer to Ryan, they developed a deeper bond and a trust that I really loved. It was the best kind of slow burning romance I adore and every time that there is nerdy love, of course, I have to be all over it. My husband's one of the more nerdy type so Max reminds me a lot of him. I love how he listens without judgement and how he made her feel so comfortable and that he opened up to her as well.
There's a pretty big fight between them and I was really anxious about if things will be able to be patched up between them and it was hard to see how much careless words can really damage another person. I think it made the story super realistic, especially when we find out why Max was having more distance between them after and Paige was trying to be grown up about it.
I really connected with Paige as she continued her closeness with her grandma. Her grandma has Alzheimer's and she also had a stroke and it sounds just so much like my grandma who I lost a few years ago that it just made my heart ache. I love how Paige trusted her and talked to her about everything and it just really makes me miss the days that I had with my grandma and the time that we had and how I felt that she understood me better than so many other people.
I really liked how much Paige's character grew throughout the story. She learned so much about herself and how to move on after the tragedies of life. She learned to let new people in and she also kept supporting the friends that she had had for years. She realized how much in friendship and with family you're supposed to depend on one another and share each others problem. With that, the punch card is never full because you bear their burdens as well. I think that the loss of her boyfriend Aaron will always shape some of the ways that she looks at life but I like how she realized that it didn't have to define her and that she could move on from her fears a little bit at a time. Also that she can keep his memory alive with others who also misses him.
I really like tells the story ended-- how things were wrapped up but also that we had room in our own imaginations to make more of a future and relationship with the characters that we had met. I definitely wouldn't mind another book about Paige and Max although I doubt that there will be one. But maybe they'll be a companion novel about one of her friends and will get a peek into what becomes of them after their summers and finally admitting things to themselves and each other.
Bottom Line: Emotional story that focuses on friendship, family, love and loss.