Cassie is writing a letter to the boy whose heart she broke. She’s trying to explain why. Why she pushed him away. Why her father got so angry when he saw them together. Why she disappears some nights. Why she won’t let herself remember what happened that long-ago night on the boardwalk. Why she fell apart so completely.
Desperate for his forgiveness, she’s telling the whole story of the summer she nearly lost herself. She’s hoping he’ll understand as well as she now does how love—love for your family, love for that person who makes your heart beat faster, and love for yourself—can save you after all.
There’s no denying I liked this book. It’s interesting, poetic, romantic, has a great range of characters, kept me invested for more than 500 pages and tackles some really difficult subjects.
So why does something just not sit right with me?
“It’s so hard, when you fall for someone—the temptation is to look back on the past and rewrite things so they seem more significant.”
Let’s start with the fact this book is extremely long. Like, I would class a book over 400 pages as long – but this one especially. It takes a very, very good author to keep me interested for that amount of time and want to be invested in this book (*cough* Chris Russell *cough*). But this book takes place with very few characters and in very few different places. Therefore, I guess I got…bored?
It just ended up feeling repetitive. Like, page after page of Cassie talking to the voice and battling with it. Sure, other things happened that I found pretty interesting. But a lot of one person and a voice just makes it drag.
The only other thing I found strange about this book is there is literally no chapters. Like, there will be a half page and the next part will start at the top of the next page. So there are breaks, but no actual chapters.
“There’s a part of me going: Did I know? Did I know the first time we met that you would change everything? That you would change me?”
But this book did deliver in other places – many other places, in fact. The writing was pretty good, poetic and meaningful. I felt like I got a lot out of following Cassie’s journey of self-acceptance and I finished this book feeling a sense of fulfillment. I also – and please bear in mind I haven’t suffered with anything similar to Cassie so I may be wrong – found the mental illness was done very well. I have read that Nick had professionals in the field read this book before publication and I think that shows the amount of respect he has.
I also found he kept Cassie’s thoughts very…real. They weren’t sugar coated, and it made me feel really connected to her. Overall, I really liked Cassie and the other characters. They were all extremely well-developed and I think they supported Cassie well. I’m also very happy to report that even though this was a ‘love-letter’ story, I think Cassie would have been okay without the romance. The fact she wasn’t magically cured by her love interest makes me so happy – she would have been okay on her own. Go Cassie!
So overall, I had gripes with this book but overall it was a very enjoyable read. Don’t go into it expecting an easy read, but do go into it expecting great writing and well-developed characters.
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽