Emotionally gripping YA romance
Shalanda Stanley's DROWNING IS INEVITABLE is one of my top underappreciated books, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of Stanley's sophomore title, NICK AND JUNE WERE HERE. Nick and June have been together for years- first as friends, then as something more. June struggles with schizophrenia, an untreated mental illness she's been trying to pretend isn't a problem. Nick and his aunt struggle with poverty, leading Nick to steal cars for cash to pay the bills. As their issues grow bigger and threaten to force them apart, they start to think the only solution is to run away...
Nick and June had my heart from the first chapter. Both are trying so hard to make everything okay, to keep their families from worrying. They put immense pressure on themselves to solve everything and feel their options are limited- if options exist at all. Anyone who has struggled with poverty will immediately connect to Nick's dilemma and understand how helpless amounting overdue bills and eviction notices can make you feel. On June's side, knowing something is wrong inside is absolutely terrifying, especially when you don't know what to do or where to go for help.
On the romance side, Stanley does what the best romance writers do: creates a situation that truly seems impossible to result in a positive ending. I was clenching my book so tightly by the last chapter, not knowing what was best for Nick or June or what would come of them. All in all, the conclusion was highly satisfying and also realistic. I may or may not have been tearing up many times throughout their journey.
Combining intense emotion, powerful love, and dramatic odds, NICK AND JUNE WERE HERE is a perfect addition to shelves alongside Katie McGarry and Emery Lord.