Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on February 3rd, 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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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.
I’ve never had much interest in stories that revolve around the military. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what they do (I have a husband that served in Afghanistan), I just find the topic a bit boring. But this is Heather Demetrios. And I loved her other contemporary novel, so I thought there was a good chance I would enjoy this anyway.
And for the most part, that was a correct assessment.
I’ll Meet You There is about two damaged people. Josh has PTSD from an IED explosion that killed his best friend, and he also lost his leg on that day. Skylar has a very dysfunctional family. Her mother is an alcoholic with very little willpower. She loses her job at Taco Bell, and Skylar’s dreams of going to art school in San Francisco are fading fast because her mother is almost unable to take care of herself and makes very bad decisions.
So we have very flawed characters that probably should not be dating each other because they have their own lives to take care of. And then there is the fact that Josh says some pretty ignorant stuff that Skylar has to constantly call him on. But, despite that, I fell for Josh as a character. He was unlikable and flawed, but his character was so well-developed and the changes that he goes through as a character make him someone you can root for. There were times when he frustrated the shit out of me, but no character is perfect, and Skylar brought out the best in him.
I really liked her, by the way. I loved how devoted she was to her art, the way she used it as an outlet, and how she used it to escape anxiety in her life. I loved the way she was when she was with her friends, and I loved her relationship with Dylan (who was my favorite character). I loved the way she handled her mother’s deficiencies, and I thought her reactions were very realistic.
Heather Demetrios’ writing is to die for. She writes some of the most fantastically vivid scenes I have ever read, and this is not exactly a memorable setting. It’s a trailer-park town in the middle of nowhere California. But somehow, she brought it to life–through her imagery, and especially through the dialogue. It was brilliant. It’s in dual POVs but Josh’s chapters are very short. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a HUGE impact on the story. It paints a very real picture of what he is dealing with.
This wasn’t perfect for me, though. I feel like I could have connected with the characters better, but that might have just been me. I didn’t love how the situation with Skylar’s mother wrapped up. It just felt wrong and…ugly. But real life it is, I suppose. I know that not everything ends like a perfectly wrapped present, but it just didn’t work for me as well as it could.
Still though, this book is a very real, somewhat gritty, character-driven contemporary novel. I am a big fan of this author’s and I am pretty much putting her on my auto-buy list after this.