Published by Macmillan on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
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If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom--that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she's ever worked for is on the line.Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise--a quirky motel off California's dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant that everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages – no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.
This book is wonderful in many ways. My only “criticism” (more of an observation, maybe?) is that I honestly don’t think it needed to develop into a romance. I loved the characters and their stories. I thought both Skylar and Josh were fascinating and “real” characters, but I didn’t think they needed to be a couple.
So many contemporary books explore the problems and heartache of middle class teens. Not that they don’t have valid problems too, but it was so refreshing to see the focus turn toward underprivileged poor kids in a trailer park. Kids who are expected to marry young, get their own trailer, and have some kids while nursing an unhealthy alcohol habit.
Skylar has bigger ambitions, though. She’s got a college scholarship and after the summer is over she can finally get out of Creek View for good. That is, until her mom loses her job and her dreams begin to fall apart. Josh Mitchell, like other young men from Creek View, always had limited options. The only way he could get out and do something good was to join the marines, but instead of being his ticket out, it landed him right back where he started, minus a leg.
There are two sides to this story. On the one hand, you feel the stifling claustrophobia of being in a small town and being unable to escape. You want Skylar to get out so badly. But this also isn’t a snobby disdainful view of these poor, lower class people. I’m from a poor background myself and it would have pissed me off if it hadn’t been handled well.
But Demetrios portrays all these wonderful, colourful and completely unapologetic people with love and sensitivity. Through Skylar, she criticises slut-shaming, racism and homophobia. Many of the characters are guilty of these at some point, even Josh, and yet it feels realistic and important. Through Skylar, she also shows that everyone has a story and needs, wishes, ambitions…
There are so many great secondary characters – Marge, who acts as a mother figure to both Skylar and Josh, Skylar’s mom and the sad story that emerges with her, Chris and his relationship with Skylar, and Dylan who is actually happy with her trailer and baby.
As I said in the beginning, the book just had so many strengths without the romantic aspect. I liked how Skylar and Josh needed each other, but I never felt like I wanted it to go beyond friendship.
But whatever, it was a beautifully-written, thoughtful contemporary.