Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Release Date - February 3, 2015
Publisher Website - Raincoast/Macmillan
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  400 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis

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. 
A broken girl. An even more broken boy. A summer that changes everything. I'll Meet You There is the story of losing yourself, finding your way, and the people who help you along that long winding path back.

Skylar is filled with wanting. She wants to get out of Creek View. She wants her life to be different. She wants one more day with the father she lost. This novel feels like it cannot hold the depths of how much she aches with want. Anyone who has lived in a small town knows this feeling Skylar has had. The itch to run away as fast as you can, while seemingly frozen in place. Skylar is someone who is trying to find where she belongs and who she is, after many years of taking care of those around her instead of herself.

Heather Demetrios writes Josh's story with a grace, and sensitivity. You can feel how much this story meant to her. You can tell how much research went into this character. She wanted to get it exactly right. Josh feels incredibly authentic, and I think that is the highest compliment I can bestow. She captures the jarring experience of trying to belong in both worlds when you don't feel part of either. Josh's struggle with post traumatic stress, easing back into 'normal' life and the ache of missing the friends he left behind feels both crushing and honest.

Heather ends her acknowledgements with the following:
Finally, to the Joshes out there: I wish you sleep without nightmares, laughter every day, cold beer on warm summer nights and love - so much love.
This perfectly captures the heart and soul of this novel. She's written a love letter to small towns, war veterans and their families, and girls like Skylar who are just always wishing for more. She does it with beautiful, touching prose and crafts a love story in the midst of this already captivating story. It's the perfect mix for a YA novel, and she pulls it together masterfully.

Josh and Skylar together are like fireworks. The chemistry is instant. They have an ease and banter that Heather weaves into the smallest exchanges. This is a novel where I feel we got to see the characters fall in love. We weren't just told that they love each other. We got to experience it along with them. We got to see the messy, happy, hopeful, crushing moments. In the end you feel like you've taken this journey with them and the ending feels earned as a result. This novel is filled with tender and romantic moments that will leave you swooning. It's release date is perfect as it'll pair wonderfully with Valentine's Day. The light and dark aspects of their journey are balanced and you get a sense that any struggle is worth what these characters are building between them.

Heather has this ability to make characters that could easily be nothing be cliches into fully developed, well written characters. The secondary characters are brilliant examples of this. Skylar's two best friends, the motherly owner of the motel Skylar and Josh work at, and the various family members we meet are captured with such affection. You have no choice but to love them in return. These characters flaws only make them that much more convincing and true.

A novel that will leave fans of Heather's previous books spellbound, but it's also one that will win her plenty of new fans as well. A novel from the heart that is truly touching, and warm. A novel about what it means to be broken, and the strength it takes to put yourself back together, even when you cannot do it alone.

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