Release date: December 29, 2015
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.
Like Bass’s previous contemporary, this one is also heavy on the drama, and relationship trouble. But while Love and Other Theories was more on the culture of hooking up, this one is about the dangers of partying, or more importantly the concept of responsibility. It’s the central idea around which the story is built – responsibility, guilt, and consequences. Amanda is facing all three; she feels responsible for not stopping her brother, guilt for being relieved that he is alive and well, and the consequences of being his sister.
In the aftermath of the incident, she has had to put on a facade for the world around her, including having a boyfriend for appearances, a smile to fool the world and keeping a brave face on. But Henry, the other person also affected has always been able to see the real her. The one thing standing between them is that incident, with them on opposite sides of it; he can’t forget her brother when he looks at her, and she can’t get past the guilt she feels when she sees him. Plot-wise, this novel was going nowhere, other than her brother’s downward spiral.
So while the writing and characterization were superb, and while I loved how it delved into grief, the effect of actions on people as a whole, I am more drawn to novels that have a direction. Perhaps that is why I don’t enjoy contemporaries as much, or maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for this one, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as I should have. Even so, it is a good book, for someone who enjoys contemporary novels.
Received a free galley from HarperTeen via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or the review.