Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2. May 2017
Rating: 5./5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters, PoC
TW: rape/sexual assault (mentioned), abusive parent, drug abuse, death of parent
Summary: All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Grace has just returned home when her mother tells her that they are moving. Again. And this time her mother’s new boyfriend’s son turns out to be Grace’s Ex-Boyfriend, who posted private texts between them on his tumblr after she broke up with him. And then there is that audition for a top music school that Grace wants to go to, but how can she ever leave her self-destructive mother alone? Oh, and there is also Eva, a girl who just moved into town after her mother died. She is one of the few things that cheer Grace up, but of course, not even that is easy.
This story was definitely way better than I expected. I had heard a lot of praise about the biracial LI and the story’s treatment of loss, but I was still positively surprised when I read this story and I have to say I adored it a lot. I can’t speak about the treatment of biracial characters (here’s a review by someone who can), but I found the lesbian and bisexual rep amazing and their relationship was incredibly well written and just adorable.
I also feared that the romance would maybe push the rest of the story into the background or that too much would be going on in the novel, but this didn’t happen and so I absolutely adored the story. Everything was well thought out and the pacing was amazingly well done so that I never got bored with this book and was barely able to put it down once I started reading. Also, the romance was so cute, featuring kissing in a tree, late-night trips and talking under the stars and making out on a boat during the 4th of July (I need cute fanart y’all). It is the cuteness overload, that stands opposite to some other parts of the story.
Because there are some parts of the story that are harder to handle. I don’t want to spoiler any of you, so I’ll just mention them shortly, but you can also skip this paragraph if you want. There’s short talk about drug abuse, the MC’s mother drinks a lot of alcohol and emotionally abuses her daughter, there is quite a lot of talk about the loss of loved ones and grief and about healthy and unhealthy coping methods with that. There is also a few short scenes that deals with sexual assault, some that were just viewed by the MC, and two that happened to her personally (a drunk man followed her to the toilet while she was a young teenager, but nothing happened + in the other scene her ex-boyfriend is really invasive and it was a bit hard for me to read since I worried about what might come, so please be careful there). All of these, except the one with the ex-boyfriend, are really short if that helps. And of course, there is the relationship between Grace and her mother, which is really messed up, since her mother was absent (physically or mentally) for a lot of Grace’s life and yet Grace thinks it is her responsibility to save her mother. If something like this upsets you, please be really careful with this book.
However, all the relationships are incredibly well written, especially the dysfunctional one between Gracie and her mother, and the one between Gracie and Eva. This is a very quiet contemporary book too and if you’re expecting action you will be disappointed, but for me, this book worked perfectly. All in all, I have to say this is one more fantastic book that I can just recommend to all of you, please read it.