Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Sam Bennett is trying to get over his parents' divorce when he moves to a small town outside Nashville. Hadley St. Clair has been dealing with the aftermath of her father's infidelity to her mother for a while, but her familiar, loving home is now a quiet place full of strangers. Sam and Hadley were not supposed to meet, and they definitely weren't supposed to fall in love, especially after Sam realizes that his mother had an affair with her father. Sam and Hadley find comfort in each other and a mutual understanding they don't share with anyone else. However, Sam's secret knowledge of who Hadley really is threatens to destroy the tentative happiness and peace they've built up. Hadley has been lied to before, and Sam knows it will break her if he lies to her, too. Ultimately, both teens are forced to learn that letting go and forgiving is the only way to find joy again and peace in their relationships with their families and with each other.
The author does a good job of creating relatable characters stuck in unfortunate situations. The plot is dramatic, but not overbearingly so. The romance is sweet and not focused entirely on the physical. This book is just a hair's breadth away from excellent, but fails in reaching that point because of Hadley's stubbornness and unwillingness to forgive until almost the very last page. While she has had to go through some difficult things, she is so stuck in her black-and-white view of things that it prevents her from letting things go and moving on. She also makes mistakes throughout the novel and tends to think that her mistakes are somehow different, that she's a good person, but other people making mistakes automatically moves them into the "bad" category of people. However, the novel was still enjoyable to read and was not cringe-inducing. Teen romance fans will like reading about the same feelings and character development in a fresh setting and plot.
*Contains severe language and moderate sexual content.