Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (25th Aug 2015)
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.
Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…
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Hooooly cheese I did not like this book. I eye-rolled so much that my eyes feel permanently stuck to the top of my socket. Sigh sigh sigh. After hearing so many good things about her writing and books, this was my first foray into Abbi Glines book and boy oh boy what a letdown. This is a long, rant-filled and scathing review, I’ve really not held back but seriously, this book annoyed me so much, for so many reasons, and you’re about to see why.
So many issues with this book, where do I even start?
I had such high hopes for this, the blurb to this sounded really good, and slightly reminiscent of a Sarah Dessen book, Along For The Ride, simply based on the element where one character doesn’t speak but finds someone to confide in. The whole silent romance thing pulled me in, it honestly could have been great under the guidance of maybe another author - but sadly with Glines I felt like it was really poorly executed.
The eye-rolling truly began, when our two main characters, Maggie and West have their first encounter. It’s this scene in the woods, where West sees her amongst the trees. And what was his first description of her?
“I followed his gaze to see a face I didn’t recognise. She was standing just on the outskirts of the party near the rows of trees. Long dark brown hair hung in soft waves over her shoulders and the prettiest green eyes I’d ever seen looked in our direction. I let my gaze move down to her mouth to see perfect unpainted pink lips. Then there was her body. Holy hell, she made a sundress look good.”
Okay, tell me, you’re standing all the way across the field and looking into the outskirts of the woods, late evening. How in the hell do you see 1. that she has the prettiest eyes you’ve ever seen. 2. Perfect unpainted lips? 3. Hot body in a sundress.
This was pure and instant attraction - all based on these few loose seconds, during which he somehow zeroed in on every one of her perfect attributes and that was that - he had to have her. I could have gotten over this niggling thing though, honestly, I could have, if the book forwarded in a better manner. But it just gets worse and worse. After this eye-rolling moment okay, he drifts into the woods to attend a phone-call which makes him angry and emotional. He turns around and sees Maggie again - and what does he do? He pushes her against a tree and kisses her and then pisses of, leaving her alone. WHO THE HELL DOES THAT?
And West’s creeptastic behaviour aside where he jumps on some unsuspecting girl in the dark, in the woods, there’s Maggie, the recipient of this kiss - WHO LETS HIM DO THIS TO HER AND ACTUALLY ENJOYS IT. Let’s take a moment here, and ask what in the actual fuuuu okay. You’ve just moved to a new town, settling into a new house with strangers, your first night out and you’re just standing in the woods - what would you do when some random guy comes up to you in the dark, IN THE WOODS, AND KISSES YOU?! Wouldn’t that alone just be alarm bells ringing, like this guy is a psycho and you yourself need serious help that you let this happen, just because this guy is attractive.
Let’s also take this moment to hone in on her description of West when she sees him for the first time. Just for funsies okay. This is the moment where West comes up to her and like taunts her, venting his anger on her and this is her…
“He’d been so tall and his hair was dark and curled at the ends. His face . . . It was like God had taken all the perfect features for man and put them together just for this guy.
It hadn’t been those things that made me stand there, though, after he warned me to go. It had been his eyes. Even in the darkness, I’d seen a heaviness there. A heaviness I’d never seen in anyone but myself.”
In a truly non antagonising manner okay, I have to ask - how exactly do you see a heaviness in someones eyes? Honestly, this isn’t something you can just convey through your eyes. As the book goes on, Maggie continues to ask questions like “Did his friends not see this? Did they not know he was hiding pain that haunted him and made him this horrible person?” LOL seriously mannnnn, this guy is going through a rough time, and NO ONE, not even his friends have an inkling of what’s going on, but this new girl can suddenly suss everything out just by looking in his eyes? *118th eye roll of the day*.
Here’s a list of every other issue I had with the events and portrayal of characters in this book:
- West comes to depend on her, find solace in her, which in a way I can understand - she’s had a tough time and she can understand him in a way the others can’t. He says he needs her to be peaceful - but he's never given his best friend or anyone a chance to do that for him? Constantly keeping everyone on the edge but when this new attractive girl rolls into town, it’s all he knows. He realises later on, when the truth it out, all his friends rally around him and give him the support he needed - why couldn’t he confide in them earlier on? He just assumed they wouldn’t understand. So much for being a good friend, eh?
- At one point in the book, West talks about invasion of privacy when he sees Brady, Maggie’s cousin, go into her room when she locked the door - and he’s like, he doesn’t care if Brady’s her cousin, he shouldn’t be allowed to do that without her permission. Which would have been all fair and good - but right at the beginning of the book he goes and kisses her against her will - hypocrisy much? And what exactly does he think Brady will do, in his cousin’s room?
- West keeps mentioning that Maggie deserves better - but he continues to treat her and other girls like absolute shit, including his girlfriend and every other girl that he conveniently hooks up with or has done in the past. Yet when it comes to Maggie actually being with someone who is better than West and better for Maggie, he’s like hell no, he just really wants her for himself.
- A constant trope in nearly all YA books lately, where all the females who are not the main character in a high school, are made out to be bitches. I swear, no joke, every other girl in this book, with the exception of Maggie, has been made out to be some kinda of super slut who is not worthy of any kind of respect. Whereas Maggie is oh so perfect, pure, virginal and therefore a cut above the rest. SERIOUSLY.
- Also. First thing he does when his dad is taken to hospital, is call her. Yep. Just going to leave this one here.
On to the beloved Maggie herself…
- Maggie apparently is the only one that can see his pain and she wonders why no one else can and it’s her duty to make it all okay? “Still, West needed to be saved. Someone had to get close to him, to reach him.” IT HAD TO BE YOU, DIDN’T IT. Forget telling Brady, his best friend, and your cousin, who had a right to know, but instead wade into all of Brady and West’s friend group and poke your nose in, cause chaos, simply because you think you’re the only one who could help.
- She herself hasn't even learned to deal with her own grief - yet she wants to save him - she talks at the beginning that she had her own demons to deal with, yet that is completely disregarded the moment she thinks West needs help. She’s seen all this time how he treats ALL girls, like a true jerk, yet she makes excuses for this behaviour saying that he was going through a hard time and no one understood him. And it’s okay, he can’t be a true jerk if he talks nicely to his Mum and tells her he loves her right? I’m not even making this up.
“He’d told his mother he loved her on the phone. Then he’d hung up and cursed while hitting his truck. Anyone who talked to his mother that way couldn’t be bad.”
- After the horrors she had survived, she stopped talking. She moves in with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin Brady. Her Aunt and Uncle have been supportive, kind and loving to her. Yet she chooses to talk to West only? Cool, cool. Does she even TRY to make friends with any other girls in the book? NOPE. Thanks to the author portraying all other girls as competitive, sex driven, guy obsessed characters, she assumes the same of all of them. Instead she spends her time either thinking about West, or getting friendly with West’s friends rather than try and make her own.
- West and Maggie eventually become close, there’s something more than friendship between them and they end up dating. Yet she breaks up with him out the blue - says it because he depended on her too much and was jealous and possessive - which was true and probably the only move she’s made in the book with which I agree with - but the moment he says I love you - suddenly she's back to him again? So all his possessive and jealous behaviour goes away just because those 3 words make it okay for him to treat you like property? *frustrated sigh*
Like I said, I had so many issues with this book, and both West and Maggie equally as characters. West was a true jerk and ass of a character and Maggie was just a wilt of a character who should have known better. There’s a lot of slut shaming throughout the book, all the girls made out to be bitches who will sleep with anyone and no sense, while the guys are all football jocks who rule the high school world and it’s okay that they’re jerks because you know, they’re half attractive and can play football - which apparently = respect. If those issues hadn’t existed, this storyline could have played out well. This could have been a tender story about friendship and love, loss, regathering broken fragments of a life. Instead we have this terrible book that sends out so many wrong messages. I know there’s another story in this series, but I definitely won’t be picking it up. I hate to give such a bashing review for a book but this really got it wrong on so many levels. The only reason why this is getting even 2 stars, is because the writing was easy and despite hating the book as I went on and on, I somehow still wanted to get to the end of this, which stands for something.