Published by HarperCollins on December 29th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Alexis Bass’s heartbreakingly beautiful second novel is a tale of love, loss, and learning to forgive, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and of Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything.Amazon •
A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart's brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he's coming home from prison.
Amanda's been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother's recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he's a monster. Still, she loves him. It's her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again--whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.
A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she'll let his choice destroy hers.
Mature-Content Rating: Language, Violence, Mild Sexual Content, Underage Drinking
“It’s not my job to restore anyone’s faith in humanity. ‘Look how someone awful can turn their life around; look how he learned from his mistakes, look how we can all learn.’ It’s such shit. People shouldn’t need me to tell them that murder is wrong and jail is awful.”
Johnathan killed Grace, his best friend, and nearly paralyzed his girlfriend, Sutton, when driving drunk to a party the night of graduation. After being accused of manslaughter, Johnathan appears on a TV interview and is completely unapologetic for what had happened. This interview is what started the downward spiral for all involved.
Amanda is Johnathan’s younger sister and was present at the party the night he and his friends got in the car. After the interview, she felt that it was up to her to be the apologetic one and refuses to show her real emotions. She has a boyfriend, but he’s irrelevant and seems like a placeholder until Henry pops up. Another placeholder is Amanda’s best friend, Dawn, who she only communicates with through texts and a few phone calls. I can’t say much about Dawn without giving spoilers, but she wasn’t a very good friend.
Henry is Sutton’s younger brother. He and Amanda were just starting a relationship when the accident happened, and suddenly pops back in when Johnathan is released from jail. He has a girlfriend, until his interest wanders back to Amanda. In basic terms; he’s a jerk. He can see every flaw in Johnathan, but refuses to see Sutton has her own problems (and the fact that she and Grace were also smashed the night of the accident).
Johnathan himself is a character that doesn’t even seek redemption for his actions. He’s broken and knows it, but refuses to be fixed in a sort of self appointed punishment. He has breakthrough moments when it comes to Amanda, his sister is one person he really cares for.
I have to mention Grace’s nonexistent friends. It was mentioned over and over how sweet and kind and presumably popular Grace was, but the only friends mentioned were Johnathan and Sutton. Obviously, a few of Grace’s friends wrecking havoc at school for Amanda would have made the book more interesting.
Again, as in most YA novels, the parents are nearly nonexistent. Johnathan and Amanda’s “Standard Dad” takes parenting like he’s reading from a manual, and their mother spends her days at the club. Sutton and Henry’s parents barely make the book.
It’s the romance that really drags this book down. Amanda and Henry, as stated before, both have a boyfriend/girlfriend, but are quick to dismiss them. Then those characters just fall into a blackhole and are never heard from again. It’s not realistic at all that these two, who had not spoken to each other after over a year and a half, suddenly pick up on a relationship that had not even started and become that intense.
Other than a lot of drama, nothing happens in the book. There’s no real climax, no revealing moment, no in-your-face screaming match; just a simple fade-to-black ending.