Having read every Sarah Dessen book ever, I was really excited to get an advanced reading copy to review. The people are right, this book is a little darker than we’ve seen before; not only do we see a character in prison, a character who had to do a stint at rehab, and one with a serious drinking problem, but there is literally a dark and creeping character looming over our protagonist, Sydney. That being said, there are also a lot of really happy and beautiful moments, like first love and finding a best friend.
The book opens with Sydney leaving a courthouse. Her brother has just been sentenced to jail time after a drunk driving incident where he left a young boy in a wheel chair. Filled with shame and guilt, Sydney has trouble going back to her usual routines and confiding in her friends. Everyone knows what her brother Peyton did to that young boy and now they look at her and her family differently. So, she decides to switch schools and start over and a chance trip to a local pizza shop changes everything. With friends that don’t judge her and who just seem to get her, Sydney is finally able to come into her own and be seen.
What struck me the most were the descriptions of Sydney’s loneliness and how it manifested with her involvement with reality TV. It was interesting to see how that lonely connection to a specific show helped her connect to other characters when she finally started being noticed by those around her. There’s a really strong presence of family, and it was wonderful seeing the development of Sydney’s relationships with her parents and her brother. This new novel has everything you want from a Sarah Dessen book, the reference to Colby, friendships, love, and healing. I really felt like the relationships between friends and family were given enough attention and fully explored so that nothing that happened felt untrue to the characters.
Finally, there is no one who can make me crave food like Sarah Dessen. First, it was onion rings, and this time it’s French fries. Layla’s crazy fry eating ritual will leaving you wanting to test out the salt, pepper, and mystery blend method after completing your own French fry gathering trifecta.
Put a hold on it now! It comes out May 5th, 2015.