Wow. This book gave me all the feels. I can't quite believe I managed this in a day. Due to giving out candy last night I had this book keeping me company. I don't know what else to say without getting too spoilery, but this book really takes a look at grief and depression and acknowledging that some people who suffer from life long depression deal with a struggle to keep moving forward. That it's hard sometimes to block out the negative and to not feel like you are drowning. I fell for the character of Addison Sullivan. She's a viola player (and yes I had to look up that instrument) who after seeing a cute boy with a wonderful smile on a bus has her world turned upside down. I wasn't shocked by one of the reveals because if you were paying attention you saw it coming, also the synopsis reveals it too. But the other twists coming and the totally realistic ending floored me. I actually applaud a young adult author for having the guts to just show a book where people don't run off in true love land forever (and not because of cancer) and that getting past that is going to hurt, but it's something that you will go through.
Addison is 16 years old and plays the viola. She loses herself in her music and doesn't understand why her family seems so far apart from each other. Though she has her best friend Katie, she wants to feel something more for someone or anything more than she does her music. The book is told in twin perspectives from Addison's POV that shows a before and after with a date at the top of each chapter so that you know you are counting down or to something (and honestly that got a bit annoying after a while, just do Before and After and be done with it).
The book starts with Addison on a bus and she's talking to a young cute guy her age and then all of a sudden a bus crash and headache lands her in the hospital. Wondering what happened to the cute boy fuels Addison's thoughts, and then she ends up seeing the boy everywhere. She doesn't know his name, but he appears whenever she seems to need him. And for some reason this boy's smile and his talking to her makes her so happy she doesn't get it.
So here's the thing. I loved Addison. I felt so much for her while reading this book. Addison is a biracial teen who doesn't feel pretty, feels awkward and lonely. She has a gorgeous mom who does the television news. A father who is an airline pilot. And she wants to be more like her outgoing best friend and just have boys and girls falling all over her. But she doesn't. She feels safe and complete when she plays music, but she can't play music forever. She is fragile when it comes to her emotions, but you get why later on though.
I thought that other characters in this book were so well developed that it was great. I think though for this book to work, it had to be.
For example, Addison and her family were so real to me it was a a bit scary. At first when we follow Addison's point of view her family seems so fuzzy. After her parents divorce when she was 12 her family has seemed off. She is not close to her older brother Caleb though she was once upon a time. She is not close to her father though she remembers a time when he seemed to love her so much. She doesn't know why her mother seems so intent on keeping tabs on her and her brother and all Addison wants to do is graduate high school and go to New York. Ms. Everett did such a good job of slowly unwrapping this family and when you get a reveal about them all you kind of just go oh crap, so that's what is going on. It was like having someone turn on the lights in a darkened room. It left me with so many questions and I even called up one of my friends so we could discuss this book. Because the choices Addison's family makes are definitely far reaching.
The writing in this book at times was almost lyrical. I am so happy it didn't dance towards purple prose material for me. I thought that the way Everett made you think you were reading about a love story at first and then switched things up to make you see the bigger thing she is writing about. She's writing about grief, depression, how depression can be something that can floor you out of nowhere and make you feel like a quitter, it can also call you a coward and tell you how weak you are at times. And you have to look depression in the face and push back as hard as you can. And that's the thing, this book really is about Addison and her pushing/moving forward when the easy thing for her is to go another way and not acknowledge all the things that have been done to her by those who say they love her.
I thought the flow at times did get a bit funky here and there. Usually in the before pieces of the book it felt a little too slow. I wanted to already get to the important parts you know instead of dragging everything out. But that is how I get when I am reading a really good book and want to gobble it up in one go.
The ending really got me and actually did make me tear up a bit. I know that some readers compared this to The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it's really not except for one plot point. Most of that movie seemed to be two people doing things to erase the other because honestly they were both jerks about the other person's quirks that they used to find so adorable. I still think that ending to that movie was more dark than anything, but that's just me. This book really takes a look at what can happen if a person chooses to forget and not get past their experiences with grief, growing up, falling in and out of love, etc.
I highly recommend!