Wow. I finished this book several days ago and I'm still thinking about it. I can't get over how real it felt to me. These characters, and the choices they make, felt like something I would encounter in my own life.
The thing that makes this novel stand out to me is how unlikeable the characters are. Molly is infuriating at times, repeating all of her mistakes when she returns to her hometown. Patrick and Gabe have darker instincts too and their sister Julia and her friends bully Molly.Their lives are so entwined that they can't see past each other and their combined drama. While I found them all to be unlikeable, I also felt they were understandable. The author excels at portraying the complicated messiness of first loves.
She also presents a harsh look at the consequences of making a huge mistake and the inequality of judgement when it comes to female/male situations. Molly takes the brunt of the bullying, with people calling her names and doing things like keying her car. Gabe gets by virtually unscathed. No one seems to blame him despite the fact that he made the same mistake as Molly did. This sad and unfair portrayal will hit home with a lot of readers.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The ending, despite all of the relationship devastation of the novel, is hopeful. I'd like to see more of the next stages of Molly's growth, since I don't feel that she did much growing during the course of the novel.
The Final Verdict:
Katie Cotugno has cemented herself amongst the best in realistic, contemporary YA fiction with this stark look at the messy consequences of our actions.