Review Detail

4.5 26
Young Adult Fiction 8699
A Promising Contemporary Debut
Overall rating
Writing Style
Echo is struggling to get through her senior year of high school. As if that trial weren't hard enough on it's own, Echo has the misfortune of having once been “popular.” Now she's a post-traumatic stress laden ghost of her former artsy self, with a distressing hole in her memory and a gaggle of “friends” who seem desperate to fix her social standing. Her emotionally absent father and air-headed babysitter-turned-stepmom aren't helping things. Fortunately, her new therapist has the idea to make sure Echo tutors one of the school's resident tortured badboy player: Noah.

Noah has his own issues, of course. He's been bounced from one foster home to another since his parents' death orphaned him and separated him from his two much younger brothers—both of whom he's intent on gaining custody of as soon as he turns 18. But Noah's negative coping mechanisms are many.

Thankfully, this is more of a slow-burn romance with not an ounce of insta-love in sight. Katie McGarry shows a lot of promise in this debut (and having read a later novella by her, this reader is confident her storytelling prowess continues to grow.)

What I liked:

*One of the most authentic-feeling parts of this story was the dismal portrayal of parts of the foster care system. Noah got a bad draw—as too many foster kids do. But I know as a teenager, I didn't take much into consideration concerning foster kids at my school. I see a lot of potential in this book for extending some empathy, or at least patient attempt at understanding, for kids in displaced family situations.

*It does seem as though the author was trying to send responsible messages to impressionable readers, including: don't have sex before you're “ready,” get on birth control if you -think- you might have sex, and keep a condom handy. And if you're going to sleep with every random girl who offers herself, you should get yourself tested for STDs now and then. (Though I have concerns about how realistic it is to think a guy as admittedly promiscuous as Noah would be willing to just stop pressuring and wait indefinitely when he figures out Echo is a virgin...I could at least appreciate the general idea that decent guys take 'no' for an answer and don't just move on to the next willing warm body.)

What I didn't care for:

*Most of the side-characters had a certain forgettable flatness about them. Mrs. Collins, the therapist/clinical social worker, was about the only one that seemed to come to life. (Nice to see at least one positive adult figure depicted, btw.)

*I just didn't like Noah. Despite the dead-parents background and crappy foster care situation...the underlying angst still felt forcibly overdone. (His flagrant overuse of F-bombs and the word 'siren' got to the point of comical for me.) It was as though his situation conjured pity, but no real connection. He was short-sighted, judgmental, about as deep as a kiddie pool...and it took much too long for me to start to feel otherwise about him. Granted, the badboy+goodgirl trope has never really done it for me.

*Echo's repressed memories issue didn't sit quite right with this reader—but maybe I was hoping for more focus on the far more common functional issue of PTSD. The buildup to the big reveal felt a bit drawn out, and the revelation was actually more mild than I'd been expecting all along.
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