I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This book tried a little too hard to be serious. It dealt with some very serious issues, but reading about how the characters dealt with their problems just didn’t feel natural.
Benjamin is a star football player, the most popular guy in school, and a complete womanizer. His life seems perfect on the outside, but he has a dark secret. His father beats him daily, and his mother abandoned him years ago. Because of his parents, Benjamin has closed himself off from feeling, and goes through the motions of daily life until he can get his football scholarship and leave his crappy life behind forever. His plan is complicated when he meets the new girl in school, Charlie, and she awakens feelings in him that he thought died a long time ago.
Charlie also has a few secrets of her own. She is beautiful, smart, and finds friends in her new school immediately, but she also builds a wall around herself and won’t fully let anyone in. Not only does Charlie have diabetes, but she is a product of a brutal sexual crime that was committed against her mentally handicapped mother. She’s not ashamed of her illness or of her mother, but she is sick of the way some people react when they find out about her personal life so she decides not to tell anyone. Charlie loves her mother fiercely, and would do anything for her, but she takes on too much responsibility all by herself.
Both Charlie and Benjamin could frustrate me at times. Benjamin was a jerk who mistreated any girl who made the decision to date him. He wasn’t abusive, but he would chase a girl down just to dump her before they ever got to the third date. There is no way to sugar coat it, the dude was a jerk! But he dated because it made him look normal, not because he wanted to use girls so I gave him a pass. His home life was so rough that silly trivial things like him not wanting a girlfriend didn’t seem to matter.
Charlie frustrated me because of how controlling and selfish she could be, but it all came from a good place in her heart. her mom was all she had, and she spent her entire life taking care of her so it was hard for her to learn to let her mother have a life of her own. However, this was a young girl who had just lost her grandmother (The only real parent she had), dealt with a life threatening disease, and had to take on the responsibility of parenting her mother. Considering all of this, her occasional attitude with her aunt was forgivable.
There was only one character that really pissed me off.View Spoiler »The one person I couldn’t forgive was Benjamin’s mom. She knew better than anyone what her husband was capable of, and she left her child with him. Your are supposed to love your kids with all you have, and she didn’t do that. First she abandoned both her daughter and son to save her own life, and then when she does come back, it’s only to save the little girl. Sure he was abusing the little girl in a horrible way, and she needed to be saved, but just because Benjamin was a boy, and his dad didn’t molest him, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t need to be protected. Either his dad was such a stinking drunk that he couldn’t function unless he was beating the crap out of someone or he was a mastermind who would have chased them to the ends of the earth if she ran with both of her children, he can’t be both. She left her son because it made it easier for her to save her daughter, and she thought Benjamin was strong enough to take the beatings, and that’s not right! End of rant. lol « Hide Spoiler
The relationship between Charlie and Benjamin was just okay. They didn’t have enough cute or passionate moments for me. I don’t mean I wanted them to make out more, because I know this author doesn’t write that way, but I also know that this author can write a passionate love story without writing one kissing scene, and that didn’t happen this time. I enjoyed the friendship between the two of them more than I did the romance. Benjamin was darn cute with Charlie’s mom though.
Overall, this was a decent book that did cause me to tear up towards the end. The writing was good, the main characters and their relationships were well-developed, and it had a satisfying ending. This won’t be a new favorite of mine, but if you like moody Young Adult novels, then this one is worth your time.