This book ended up being a lot lighter than I thought based on the premise. It really was a roller coaster of emotions while reading, up and down, up and up and huge down, laughing, squealing, gasping, crying, laughing again. It was a lot of fun.
The book was told through Emmy's POV and I really enjoyed her voice. It was clear that she was affected by Oliver's disappearance but also trying to live her own life so many years later without having forgotten him. She had a great sense of humour that had me giggling at a lot of her comments and she just seemed like the type of character a reader could be friends with. I loved the dynamic between her and her two best friends, Drew and Caroline, and how it changed when Oliver returned.
There was definite chemistry between Emmy and Oliver. It could have easily stayed a friendship and I would have been happy with that but it was nice to see them both leaning on each other and getting to know each other all over again. Oliver could open up to Emmy about how he was really feeling about being back, all the media attention, his fear of hurting his mother by not hating his dad. Emmy could tell Oliver her secrets like applying for college, surfing, her fear that her parents would never let her leave. Throw in more drama with Drew and Caroline, and I was loving it. Caroline was the youngest in a huge family and her parents basically ignored her. Drew's parents seemed more concerned with money than accepting their son. The friendship between these four was a huge highlight. It was one of those rare books where I didn't dislike any of the main characters.
I really liked that the author showed Oliver's return wasn't easy. He couldn't just slide back into town like he hadn't been gone for ten years. Parents became protective over their children and with some it wore off after a while and with some it stayed. Oliver had to leave everything behind for a second time and start over. He somehow had to reconcile the image of his dad raising him and loving him with being a criminal. It wasn't easy on anyone.
The plot flowed really well. It made for an easy and fun read. It could go from serious to playful in an instant without it feeling abrupt, which was nice since that meant I stayed absorbed in the story. I thought the ending was really great, very touching and realistic, and I was so happy with how the whole book turned out.