Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Michelle Levy
Publisher: Dial Books
Tyler had it all: a football scholarship to Harvard, a great girlfriend, and a star football position. Then the summer before senior year, his mom commits suicide and Tyler is left with nothing. Tyler lives life just going through the motions, avoiding his increasingly abusive father and working constantly to be able to afford food and living necessities that his father refuses to pay for. When Tyler reconnects with Jordyn, an old friend from elementary school and now his coworker, he thinks at first that he will never have anything in common with her black-clad, pessimistic self. However, Jordyn seems to be the only person who will really listen to him without judging or pitying him. She offers him a loving home and family and a second chance at a promising future. Ultimately, it's up to Tyler to decide if he can move on from the events of the past and finally leave his abusive home situation in order to allow himself to live fully for his own future.
This is an excellent coming-of-age/romance featuring a teen boy narrator. Tyler's situation is pretty unique and extreme, but the thoughts and feelings he has are common to every teenager as they approach graduation and planning for the future. In the beginning of the book, Tyler seems shallow and passive, but he progresses throughout the book thanks to Jordyn and her family, as well as his own determination and decisiveness regarding who he wants to be. Readers should be warned that this book contains descriptions of suicide and self-harming thoughts, as well as physical and emotional abuse. Despite these horrible scenes and images, the messages in regards to each are those of healing and moving forward with life, as well as taking time to feel sad in the wake of tragedy and loss. Fans of Chris Crutcher's and Francisco X. Stork's books will appreciate the emotional depth and progressive journeys present in this book.
*Severe language, severe sexual content, moderate violence.