Callie’s life was changed forever six years ago. Her 12th birthday was the day everything was stolen from her, and it’s one she’ll never forget. After what happened, she curled in on herself and never let anyone get close to her because sh is left with major trust issues. Now, she’s in college and finally found a trustworthy person in Seth, her new bff. Things are going great, until she runs into Kayden, the guy she saved right before she ran off to start college early. Kayden’s entire life has been one abuse. As long as he stays in line, everything is fine, but once he fucks up, well, then he is in for a real beating. One night, things get out of hand and he thinks his life is over, until Callie intervenes. Now, he can’t stop thinking about her and the more he gets to know her, the more he thinks that maybe she is the one who really needs saving.
This story has truly wowed me. I think it’s safe for me to assume that I’m going to love anything that Jessica writes because thus far, all her novels have been right on the money. Callie and Kayden’s story is simultaneously tragic and hopeful. Both characters are beautifully broken and you find yourself rooting for them to find a way to make it work. Callie is so quiet and sweet and absolutely loveable. She’s that girl who was always shunned because, after her twelfth birthday, she dresses badly, acts standoffish, and shuns human interaction. Excluding her family, Callie doesn’t allow anyone to touch her and that makes having friends difficult and a boyfriend impossible. I’m not entirely sure she wanted either. Then she goes off to college and meets Seth, someone who understands the bad things in the past. The two become fast friends and he is the first person she tells her secret to. Then she sees Kayden at attending the same university and is immediately flooded with all kinds of feelings she desperately wants and desperately doesn’t. The push/pull dynamic of her emotions was one of the things I love.
Kayden, on the other hand, shows no sign to the outside world that anything is wrong. He seems like a normal guy, quarterback of the high school football team who gets a scholarship to college with a hot, if somewhat bitchy, girlfriend and has absolutely no qualms with normal human contact. We quickly learn, though, that his hiding a lifetime’s worth of physical abuse. Daddy dearest isn’t the saint the community believes him to be and it’s only a matter of time before he takes things too far. Watching become so overprotective of Callie was another big highlight of the story.
Callie and Kayden’s tale is one of those stories that it’s difficult to watch but impossible to turn away. It reminded me a tiny bit of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover and a whole lot of Wide Awake, that fanfic that I’m gaga about. Both their past are devastating and challenging to get past, but somehow together they manage to start working through their shit. I would almost wager that this novel is better than Ella and Micha….almost. This gets a one star lower rating because it ends in a terrible cliffhanger. Holy fucking shit, that ending redefines the word “cliffhanger.” It’s one of those terrible ones where we get to a pivotal moment and then it’s over and you are dumbfounded. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. My baby sister told me (over and over again) that this was amazing but I needed to wait for the sequel. I just wasn’t expected THAT.
On a side note, I listened to this entire novel on audiobook and I must say the narrator was great. She doesn’t come off as overly whiny and does a great job with changing her voice for each character. I definitely recommend this audiobook version to anyone who enjoys audiobooks.
What it all comes down to, though, is that this story is so enthralling. I started the audiobook with the intent to just listen to about an hour (which is about a tenth of the book) and ended up spending my entire day listening to it. I even went so far as to plug my ipod up to my car stereo so I could continue listening when I had to venture out into the real world. It’s amazing and infuriating and heartbreaking. It’s astonishing enough that as soon as I finish posting this, I’m going to read the second one even though I have a monstrous pile eARCs I need to get through.