Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Review: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
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.
Goodreads | Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
So this book.
I know I’m not going to be able to put everything I feel about Heather Demetrios’s writing into words. Just know that I LOVED I'll Meet You There and rated it 5 stars on Goodreads – which I RARELY do.
I was kind of hesitant to read this I’ll Meet You There. Although I’m always looking for a book that tackles tough issues, I’m often disappointed. I love a good romance but I don’t think when you are going to write about things like PTSD, the romance should overtake or solve that. I’ve read many books where trauma seems to = pages and pages of our hero being an asshole, wallowing in self pity and that is somehow supposed to enough to address how serious or hard something is. Of course that’s real and does happen but it also misses the heart of a character or the depth of the topic the author is exploring.
My copy included a letter from the author explaining why she wrote about PTSD and poverty and her personal experiences with both. Her real life experience and compassion for both shows. This is really one of the best books I’ve read on those subjects. In any genre - YA, NA, or Adult.
Onto the babbling praise portion of the review.
There is a romance between Skylar and Josh but it felt like so much more to me. It was slow and easy – yet complicated for so many reasons. This is a warts and all kind of love and more believable for it.
Josh has the obvious issues you would expect after a tour in Afghanistan and losing his leg. His chapters are few but have an incredible impact. His pain is palpable yet you don’t ever pity him and neither does Skylar.
I loved how this was just as much Skylar’s story as it was Josh’s. Skylar can’t wait to get out of Creek View. She has a scholarship and a one way ticket out until her mother starts to spiral out of control. Reading about her conflict between her loyalty to her mom and attaining her dreams was heartbreaking.
There’s an ebb and flow to these characters. It gets pretty dark at times yet there’s a realistic balance. Not everyday is awful. Sometimes they just make it through by putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes they stumbled – then took a leap of faith and make progress.
The secondary characters were just as complex and interesting as Skylar and Josh. The changing dynamics between friends and family as things shift add yet another layer to this already wonderful story.
There are a lot of potential clichés here – the alcoholic mom, losing your virginity, the teenage mother, the returning bad boy, but not a one of them is written that way. Just because they all come from the same town, doesn't mean they have a universal experience or even want the same things.
I’ll Meet You There shows the despair of poverty, addiction and trauma yet also shows how there is always hope in that despair. Not everything is tied up in a neat little bow. Demetrious doesn't cop out at the end – she shows the hard work that still needs to be done, but you also see that both Skylar and Josh and their friends are headed in the right direction.
I tried to keep this review spoiler free but I suggest following the I'll Meet You There Book Tour. Tours can be kind of boring sometimes but Heather has been writing really great posts regarding the book and some of the issues she explored. They are a tad spoliery though.