Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.
What I Didn't SayHot
Jake's story made me laugh, it made me cry and it broke my heart. (in a good way) What makes this so good? Well, it's not only a story that shows the consequences of bad choices, however devastating those might be, but it also shows that something good can come out of a tragedy.
When Jake's choice to drink the night of the Homecoming game ends in a horrible accident resulting in his never being able to speak again, he'll be faced with all the things he didn't get the chance to say. Like, how he never told Samantha, the girl he's secretly been in love with for as long as he can remember, exactly how he feels. Jake will have to find a new way to live with no voice and a new way to express himself. He'll learn that family isn't always about blood and while life as he knows it will never be the same again, it's still full of surprises and just might turn out better than he ever could've planned or imagined.
Everyone is struggling with something, even if it's not as obvious as Jake's but you have a choice to make. You can either choose to let whatever is happening, define you or you can choose to make something good come out of it. Choosing the latter isn't always easy but it IS always worth it.
At the end of the book, author, Keary Taylor bravely shares her personal reasons for writing this and it made me cry. ((hugs her))
It could be that is was so granola and at times unrealistic. Most teenagers do not act that way. Some of the situations made them seem completely naive while others contradicted their earlier thoughts.
I mean, it's completely unusual for a guy to let their friends make moves on their sisters. Especially if you know your friends are kinda creeps with girls. If any of you have brothers, you know what I'm talking about.
Jake and his siblings relationships was kinda strange to me. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but it just seemed unusual. That entire family really. They were super close and so. damn. nice. All the time.
Anyways, other than that, the book was actual pretty interesting. Jake's situation was unique and I enjoyed getting inside his head. Sam's situations was sad and at times I really felt for her. Although her story line just kinda came and went without much of an afterthought.
The ending was sweet and enjoyable.
Plot: When you really think about it, this is a pretty overdone plot idea. There's one major thing keeping them apart, like most romances, but this is that Jake can't talk. It's a very different issue than most books, but when you get down to it, it is very similar to many other YA books.
I did like Sam's situation. Though I didn't think it was done as well as it could have been, I really liked her story line. It kind of just fizzled out and dropped off, which disappointed me.
There were a few different back stories that just kind of fizzled out. I wished River's secret would have played out to more.
I found it really funny how they were all crushing on their friend's sister. Rain liked Jordan (Jake's little sister) and Carter liked River (Rain's twin sister).
Characters: This book has some of the best characters ever.
Jake Hayes. There's a few points where he begins to wallow in self pity, but let's be honest. He's the major crush worthy guy most girls wished pined after them like he does Sam. I had an instant connection with Jake on page one, as soon as I read the countdown to the Air Force part. My best friend wants to go into the Air Force and is off flying a plane all the time. So the fact that I could see him in Jake made me relate to Jake before I had even started reading.
I also like how honest his narration was. He wasn't like "Oh, the trailer was beautiful just because it was Sam's". No, sir. "The trailer was crap" was more his style. I like that he didn't sugar coat things.
Now, I can relate even more to Sam. I'm at the top of my class currently and sometimes school work doesn't leave me much time for other people. I like how strong she was, never asking anyone for help, although it wasn't the smartest thing.
Carter and Rain were pretty cool. They never really talked about the accident, but they're guys, so who knows? I loved Jake's family. They reminded me of the Duggar's with a bunch of kids who's names all start with the same letter.
Norah just bothered me throughout the entire book and her and Jake at the party. UGH. But that's what she's supposed to do, right?
Overall: I really liked how it was a romance book without being mushy. The characters were amazing. It was definitely worth digging out my old eReader to read.
It was quite a ride to be in Jake's head. It has so be so frustrating to all of the sudden be mute, and have things you want to say, but can't. Sure he can write things down, but I honestly can't imagine.
The dynamic between Jake and Sam was so very well written. I loved their interactions, and often wondered about Samantha's motivations, and when I found out, it was totally heartbreaking and unexpected. As much as I can't imagine being in Jake's shoes, hers is so unthinkable. The sweetest part of the story is really watching them lift each other up, and seeing their selflessness (for the most part anyways) when it comes to the other.
The connection with Jake and his family is really well written. I could totally see myself wanting to call his mom "mom" right along with the rest of the island. His brothers and sisters showed such support while at the same time being realistic, teasing, joking and sometimes too much in his business.
It was also neat to read about the Island culture, small town and even more. I think that she did a good job explaining how it was different, and showing the sense of togetherness while still having it believable.
I liked the ending, how it tied things together, and I can't really think of how I'd want their story to end any differently.
Samantha: Samantha is the quintessential good girl, but even she has secrets. She is smart, kind and a super overachiever. She seems pretty perfect and Jake certainly thinks so. We find out pretty early in the book, however, that Sam's life is anything but perfect. I won't go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say that I don't think I could deal with what Sam has to go through. And through it all she proves to be strong and capable while maintaining her caring and compassionate nature. Sam is the type of person that we all aspire to be and it's so hard to read this book without wanting to just give her a big hug. She definitely needs one. Despite having huge problems of her own, she wants to help Jake and she works hard to do so. Their relationship and connection is really amazing and watching that relationship grow and change was just spectacular.
Jake's Family: Jake has a HUGE family. There are seven kids and his parents, I would live in the yard if there were that many people living in my house. But even though it's crowded, there's also plenty of love to go around. These people, even the younger kids, are so supportive it's crazy. My brother and sister and I fight daily over who has to let the dogs out, but Jake's family is like a big puppy pile of domestic bliss (not that they don't have any fun together of course). And his mom, oh my god. She is super mom, she's constantly feeding everyone and having get togethers for the island kids and she's still slightly intimidating, which I think every mom should be. The family relationships were really nice to see and it added a lot of fun and quirkiness to the story.
The Ending! (no spoilers, I promise): I LOVED the ending. You know how when you're reading a book, you have an idea of the perfect ending, exactly how you would want it to happen in real life? Well, without giving anything away, this one hit all the right marks. I actually yelled "YES!" at one point during the last chapter, that is how happy it made me. This is the type of ending I wish all contemporaries had. I just had a big goofy smile on my face all day.
Angelic teenagers (sort of): The kids in the book could be somewhat unbelievable sometimes. They were just too well behaved. Well, kind of. There were other things about these kids that made the idea that they were so well behaved really unbelievable. First there's Jake, who won't swear because his mom ingrained it in him that swearing was bad, but will get trashed at a party and then let his drunk friend drive him around. Really? So you won't drop the f-bomb but you'll let Drunky McLush-pants drive you home? Seriously? Sorry but I find that a little difficult to wrap my head around. A good expletive never killed anyone. And it isn't just Jake. He explains how there are lots of island parties with red plastic cups and "glass pipes" (wonder what those are for) but these same kids sign a pledge after his accident that they won't drink anymore. I just don't buy that.
Ask for help, already! : Something that has always annoyed me in young adult books and movies is when someone is in real trouble, trouble that a parent could help get them out of and they refuse to ask for help. This usually ends up causing all sorts of problems and then the parent steps in anyway and helps out and all is well. Can't we just cut out the middle and save ourselves the stress? Samantha has some pretty sizable issues that she needs to figure out and I couldn't help but think that if Jake just went to his parents they could have helped her. I suppose we wouldn't really have a book then though.
Predictability: There were some aspects of the story-line (especially in the first half of the book) that were just very predictable. Luckily the second half more than made up for that.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves realistic romance, drama and happy endings. This story will stick with me for a long time and I'll have a hard time not comparing other contemporaries to this one.