Echo Emerson has a troubled past. She was once the golden girl, popular, dating the basketball team’s star player, friendly, and open with good grades and a great future ahead of her. Those days are long gone now, when she is the class freak that is stalked by stares and gossip. Two years ago her life changed forever when her older brother died in Afghanistan and then traumatic events involving her mom occur and suddenly there are only 2 people at school that will even speak to her. She desperately wants two things. The first is to remember exactly what happened that fateful night at her mom’s house. Her dad won’t tell her and it was bad enough that she awoke in the hospital days later and her brain had just blocked it all out. The second is for things to go back to normal. Will she ever achieve either goal?
Noah Hutchins is a bad boy. Stoner, one night stand-er, with dismal grades and a label as a troubled kid in the foster care system, he hasn’t got much going for him. So when the new glorified guidance counselor tries to change his attitude, he tells her to fuck off…until she dangles what he really wants in front of him, visitation rights to his little brothers. When he was a sophomore, his parents died tragically in a house fire, and nothing will ever be the same. He has been bounced from foster home to foster home since then and has no intention of turning over a new leaf, unless it can gain him access to his brothers. So when these two are thrown together with her tutoring him, both their worlds tilt off the access and they realize they have more in common than anyone could have ever imagined.
I don’t think I will ever be able to say enough amazing things about this novel. From the first moment I’m started reading from Echo’s perspective, I was rooting for her to find all the answers she sought, to stand up to her father, and to get her life back on track. She managed to seem wounded without coming off too whiny, which is a real feat. Noah is the perfect leading guy. He’s that good guy who turns into a bad boy that is still a bit of a softy underneath all that swagger and bravado. One of the biggest things I loved about them together is that Noah realizes right off the bat that he is falling for Echo. There is none of that bullshit where he cares for her but doesn’t realize it is love until after he has already fucked everything up. Don’t get me wrong, he fucks it up, but he knows he loves her when it’s happening. I found that so refreshing. They are so perfect together that it was hard for me to keep from yelling at them as they fought their mutual attraction. On the same note, I loved every minute of that dance.
I also loved that Mrs Collins seemed so knowledgeable and genuinely wanted to help them both. She made the book feel like the author really put effort and research into Echo & Noah’s issues and I’m constantly drawn to that. Reading about people recovering from extreme trauma or abuse gives me hope for the future in a weird way. I know none of it is real, but it easily could be and if an author somewhere can dream up a way for these fictitious people to get around their issues, than surely it is really possible.
This is, by far, the best contemporary YA I’ve read this year. I started yesterday night around 7 pm. I arrived early to class and decided to start one of the many netgally earc’s I’ve got on my kindle. I’d heard good things about it and quickly fell into the world Ms. McGarry created. Class soon started and I had to tear myself away. After class, I rushed home to continue reading. When 1 am rolled around, I was shocked to see that it was that late and yet I still couldn’t stop. I still continued reading, hoping I’d be able to finish it before the need to sleep overcame me. Since I am not a particularly fast reader, I did not accomplish this goal. At 4 am, I finally gave up and went to bed, knowing I’d hate myself when the alarm went off at 7. The gist of this rambly bit is you know a book is good if it can make you willingly tolerate going through on only three hours of sleep. Right off the bat, it reminded me so much of that fanfic I’m raving about, Wide Awake. It also reminded me a lot of Perfect Chemistry by Simon Elkeles. Or really any book I’ve read by Simon Elkeles, so if you like her stuff or just want a read that you won’t soon forget, read this.
****Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****