This is another book that was on my Fall TBR that I was very curious about. I really did go into this book blind. I chose not to read what it was about before starting as that always gives me the freedom to come to my own conclusions. After I finished this book, I read the blurb where it says the author is a mix of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. That certainly did explain why I did not completely jive with this story. I am not a fan of Rainbow’s stories yet I could see how people would compare this to something she wrote. That’s not a terrible thing, just not something that I truly enjoyed.
This is the story of Henry Page and the fact that he has never been in love. Henry Page certainly wants to be in love as he considers himself a hopeless romantic. Since he has no current love interests, he throws himself in to school, grads, and trying to get into college. Pretty basic stuff. Everything in Henry’s world turns upside down when Grace Town walks into his class. Grace Town is not the typical ‘girl next door’, she has a lot of secrets and has a lot of healing to do. She walks with a cane, wears boys’ clothes, and hasn’t seen the inside of a shower in a while. This certainly isn’t who Henry page pictured he would fall head over heels for. But when Grace decides to join Henry on the school newspaper, things move quickly between these two. They soon discover that they are exactly what the other has been needing: they both need the other to help heal what is broken.
I feel this book let me down. Those are strong words but hear me out. I was expecting a really powerful, very sweet contemp story yet that is not what I read. I read a story that tried way too hard to be something it isn’t. This story tried really, really hard to be the next TFIOS. Stop trying to make that happen if it isn’t meant to happen. Instead of Grace having cancer, she lived through her boyfriend dying in a car crash. While that is terribly sad, it isn’t the same as TFIOS. The feelings, the mood, the connection was just not there for me. I didn’t feel that pull to want to know what happen. Instead, I wanted this story to be over. It was so full of quirky one liners that it started to really irritate me. Plus, there were just as many pop culture references to TV shows, movies, commercials, songs, etc. that seriously dated the story, or it will date the story. Most of the younger YA readers may not understand what is being said. I’m an older YA reader and I understood, but I have a feeling most of these references will fly over the reader’s head. It was just an okay read but it dragged on a lot and I just wanted it to be over. There are sections that simply go on for what seems like a very long time with no point or end in sight.
It was interesting to read a contemp from a male POV, but it was not that amazing for me. Henry wanted to be in love so much that he just sounded like a whiny teenage girl, so this story could have just as well be written with a female voice instead. I never connected with Grace’s character as the author made it very difficult. She wrote Grace with so many walls around her that I started not caring what was going on with her. Grace was just an angry character with a huge chip on her shoulder. I felt bad that she had to experience what she experienced, but she should have gotten some help or something. How she was dealing with everything was not healthy. It had me more concerned than anything. And right behind her was Henry begging to fix whatever was wrong with her. It did not give me warm fuzzies, instead, it made Henry seem like a stalker that would not take “no” for an answer.
I wanted to like Henry’s best friends but they didn’t work for me either. The banter was just “too perfect”… that’s the only way I can describe it. They almost talked in code that was, in fact,… more pop culture references. I have never been that in sync with my best friends. The banter never made me giggle, laugh, or even chuckle. What it did cause me to do was roll my eyes a lot.
I do have to point out that there are a lot of references to underage drinking and sex. Plus, the language is not that of a typical YA book. There is a LOT of cussing in this book so if any of that bothers you, skip this one.
Again, I wanted to like this story more than I did. It really did try too hard to be something it wasn’t. It tried to be quirky, hip, and super cool but fell flat. It covered a lot of serious topics and probably not in the best way possible. The constant talk of underage drinking and several occurances of sex might not be the best thing for younger YA readers. By younger, I mean much younger than me. This might not set a good example. If you proceed, do so with caution. In the end, I gave this story 2.5 stars.