by Heather Demetrios
Read: October 8 - 10, 2014
Published: February 3, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Borrowed from Andi @ Andi's ABCS (THANK YOU!!)
Category: Contemporary YA, wounded veterans, between HS and college
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository
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.
I'll Meet You There is the story of two teens whose lives are imploding. Josh Mitchell is back in the states after losing his leg in Afghanistan. The Marines were his way to escape the inevitability of a life stuck in his depressing town. He's angry and lost, and doesn't know who he is or where he's going. We hear from Josh in short but powerful stream of consciousness chapters that are interspersed within Skylar's narrative. Sky is desperate to escape the same middle-of-nowhere town to San Francisco and college in the fall. It finally appears to be happening. But as August looms closer and her reckless mother's life falls apart - what else is new? - Sky is afraid she'll never get there.
HEART: One of my favorite things about I'll Meet You There isn't anything tangible or quantifiable. It's the fact that it's so clear when you're reading - and backed up by the author's note and the moving letter that came with the ARC - that Heather Demetrios breathed a piece of her heart into her book. This is a story she needed to tell, and her words came out of that and produced something that has resonated strongly with so many readers. Even though it's not even really a 'thing' you can measure or explain how to replicate, I think it's absolutely palpable in this book and in the emotions of the characters. This is the wonder of words and the magic of storytelling at their most inspiring - and heartbreaking. For this reason alone, you don't want to miss meeting Josh and Sky.
LOVE: The romance in this book is stunning. It is slow and aching and painful, but also beautiful. It felt real. Sky and Josh don't at all seem like a good match - with Josh's past and Sky's future - but I think that's one reason why I loved them. Because finding each other was so unexpected for both of them. Sky and Josh also have raw and honest conversations, and actually talk and even joke about Josh's lost leg. There's nothing at all funny about it - but it is different and new, and I love that Demetrios allows Sky to ask the questions and say those awkward things we're all thinking anyway.
FRIENDSHIP: The story around Sky and Josh's romance is equally filled with complex relationships. Sky has two best friends - Chris and Dylan. One whom, like Sky, is desperate to escape town, while the other is a young mother and happy to stay. These three are all headed in very different directions and struggle to come to terms with that, but they all continue to support each other. One of my favorite moments is when Dylan confronts Sky for the way she's been judging the people around her, and even I felt chastised for how I'd seen the girls who stay behind. I was also surprised by how Sky's relationship with her boss at the Paradise Hotel blossoms. Marge becomes a source of stability and wisdom that Sky really needs in her life. Sky's relationship with her irresponsible mother also changes throughout this book. Though she was not at all my favorite character, I appreciated the maturity with which their relationship was handled at the end.
HURT: This book is filled with characters that make bad decisions and self destruct in incredible ways. I wanted to scream at many of them at one time or the other. Josh and Sky both mess up big time, but the thing is, I could always understand them too. Their pain and loneliness and fear of being stuck and desperation came to life on these pages. I am usually not a fan of drama, but I became so tied to these characters that nothing in this book felt like it was added for angst sake. I felt all their emotions along with them, and desperately wanted them to figure it out and find their way forward.
HOPE: I ended this book with a big sigh of happiness, but I also appreciate the fact that Demetrios doesn't sugarcoat the future for her characters. All relationships take work, but when you carry as much baggage as they do, it sometimes take a little more than usual. Thankfully, both Sky and Josh have the support of others to help them. For me, one of the most hopeful elements of this story is the fact that they both realize how much they have by the end. I'm thankful that they have others to remind them of that. I wish nothing but the best for them in the future.
This book is beautiful, heartbreaking and hopeful. These characters came to life for me in vivid color, and I felt so much for them. They are passionate and flawed and alive, and I ached for them through the course of this story. Skylar, Josh, Dylan, Chris and Marge, it was hard to let you go.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone