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.
I would have liked this book more if the author had chosen to tell the story differently. I don’t mean that I wish she had written a different story because this was a good idea for a book, I wish she had written this book in a different way.
The book is written as though Nell is writing a letter to her older sister Layla. The overall tone of the letter is an apology, and we don’t find out what Layla is apologizing for until the very end of the book.
While reading, I kept wondering why Nell was describing these details and telling Layla things that she already knew. She would say things that were important for the reader to know, but most of the time she was talking about conversations that she had with her sister so why would she have to tell her sister about those conversations in the letter. It was weird. The language was stilted and awkward, and Nell used words that no 15-year-old girl would use in a letter to their sister.
The way the book was written may have taken away from my enjoyment, but this actually wasn’t a badly book. I can tell tell the author is talented and has a love of words. Nell is a pretty cool girl, even though she is way too serious for her age and over thinks everything. Her high-strung attitude and desire to fix things for other people reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age, and I think she is a character who is easy to identify with.
I only got to know Layla through Nell’s eyes, but she seemed like a great girl too. Or at least she was great before she entered into a relationship with her teacher.
Nell finds out about this affair and spends the entire book agonizing over what to do. She idolizes her big sister and they are very close. She doesn’t want to do anything that would push her away or get Layla in trouble, but she knows that what their teacher is doing is wrong. She also knows that the person her sister is becoming because of the affair is not a healthy person. The affair is turning her into a desperate and scary version of herself, and Nell just wants her sister back.
Nell doesn’t spend the entire letter talking about her sister, she spends time talking about herself and the things she is going through. It is through the portions of the letter that weren’t devoted to Layla, that I got to know my favorite person in this book, Felix.
Felix is Nell’s best friend, and they have an awesome relationship. He is funny, charming, cute, and has that “best friend radar” that helps him know just the right thing to do or say when Nell needs him. They cuddle and give each other a hard time, and I kept wondering why this girl wasn’t crazy in love with this kid! He literally told her over and over that he loved her and she was the only girl for him. I think everyone but Nell knew that when he said these things, he meant them, but Nell’s obliviousness to Felix’s feelings for her, just enhanced the cuteness.
I may not have connected with the way this story was told, but because I can tell that the author has talent I will be reading more of her work in the future. She took a risk with the way she wrote this book, and I respect that. And I also really liked the characters.
Because of mature subject matter, I would recommend this book for ages 15 and up.