I'm not going to lie. This was mostly a cover by for me. I mean, look at the cover! I was in the mood for a cute and light romance yesterday, so when I entered Barnes and Noble and saw this cute cover, I thought, hey this looks like exactly what I'm looking for... I was wrong. After reading the synopsis, I was even more intrigued about the story an the plot line. Basically, this girl screws up her relationship with her boyfriend with his brother and ran away to a boarding school. Now she's back in town and this is the consequences of her actions.
Like many other readers of this book, I am still, the day after reading it, highly conflicted about how I feel about this book. I want to like it, and I do like it (in fact, I read the entire book instead of working on the homework I was supposed to be doing), but at the same time, some parts (mostly after the halfway mark) had me wanting to throw this book across the room to shake some sense into these characters. In the end, I decided that, yes, I did enjoy the book, so I've decided to give it a 7.3/10 stars and a 4/5 stars on Goodreads, but it was a hard choice. Contugno's writing is so realistic, it got me hooked from the first chapter (slash day, the book is separated by days), at the same time, the realistic writing was what this book had an issue with, as well. This story was very raw and real, it didn't really try to cover anything up- which I am okay with but the direction it took just had me getting highly annoyed with some of the characters. The main character, Molly Barlow is very, extremely flawed. For the most part, I appreciate a flawed main characters, it makes a story feel more real, but it's Molly's horrible choices that she made that made me really not root for her at the end of the book.
I should start by giving you the blurb so that you can understand slightly:
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
Let's start by talking about the characters, shall we? Molly Barlow, as I said before, I found highly irritating. She's the protagonist in the story and in the beginning, I really did sympathize for her and root for her. And then she made a colossal amount of bad choices and yeah, we all make bad choices, but her's were just really dumb choices and it made me feel disconnected from her character. I thought this whole story would be trying to right the wrongs of her past and stuff. Nope, it's just Molly making the same mistakes all over again. Molly is incredibly selfish. I mean, before the book even started, she'd already slept with her boyfriend's brother, but I can forgive that, we all make mistakes ( I mean, maybe not that big of a mistake, but whatever.). As long as she was on a path towards redemption in this book, it would've been okay with me. I like to see a character learn from their mistakes. Does Molly? NO. She just repeats her past mistakes and doesn't even think about the effect her actions will have on others. That was the most off putting thing about her, all she thinks about is herself. She doesn't even stop to think that her actions might hurt others and it just really pissed me off. Something equally as bad as Molly's selfish actions is that after the bad fallouts of her selfish actions, she just feels bad for herself and doesn't even seem to see her own fault in the situation. How do I come to that conclusion? She's willing to repeat her past mistakes. Ugh.
Now add Gabe Donnelly. I was rooting for Gabe this entire story, even from the beginning. That's why Molly's actions pissed me off even more than they regularly would. She hurts a lot of people in this book, especially Gabe. Who is Gabe? Well, he's the brother that Molly cheated with. I thought I probably wouldn't like him, I mean, he did sleep with his brother's girlfriend- but I actually loved his character. He's so sweet and it's evident from the beginning that he really cares for Molly. He's very forward about what he wants, yet he doesn't push anything on her. Gabe is very charismatic - which is the exact opposite of his brother, Patrick, but more on that later. Just like Molly, Gabe is flawed. Contugno has that going for her, she writes very realistic characters with realistic flaws. Gabe's biggest flaw is that he really likes getting what he wants (but don't we all?) but other than that, Gabe is a good guy. Out of all the characters in this book, I found myself liking Gabe the most.
Patrick Donnelly is Gabe's younger brother and Molly's ex boyfriend. For the first part of the book, you mainly get to know Patrick through a series of memories Molly has about him. They grew up together and eventually just started dating. I was never rooting for Patrick, but from the beginning I thought Molly would end up with him, I mean, spoilers he's on the cover. Even though I wasn't rooting for Patrick, I could see the appeal from when they were younger. He's very aloof and separate from the world. I guess he's the brooding dark type next to his light, charismatic and friendly brother. I can deal with that, there's nothing wrong with the brooding dark type. Except as the story continues along, I got to realizing something. Patrick is a grade A dick. The first sign is from Molly's memories, though he may complain about Gabe being annoying when he doesn't get what he wants, so is Patrick. He was a bit of a controlling boyfriend, from what I could see, and then the things he does in the second half of the book are just unforgivable. Add to that some of the things he says? No. I really ended up disliking Patrick Donnelly's character. Like Molly, Patrick makes dumb, selfish choices and doesn't even seem to think about how it might effect others. His and Molly's choices end up hurting a lot of people, including themselves. Even though, yeah, Patrick was hurt a lot in this book, I just couldn't sympathize for him because in the end, he brought it on himself.
Usually I don't look at the themes of books, but the themes in this book really stood out to me. I read a review that said one of the themes in the book is that you don't get infinite second chances. And I really agree with that statement. This book shows that you do not always get a second chance and your actions and choices can ruin some of the best things you have in life. Seriously Molly Barlow is a perfect example of what not to do in life. When running into any bad choices, just do the opposite thing Molly would do and chances are, you'll be good. Another evident theme in this book is LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. Especially if those mistakes lead to ruining a family. Seriously. A third topic covered in this book is the double standard. If a girl sleeps with a guy she's considered a slut, but the guy seems to be able to get away with it, without being shamed. Yeah, that's an issue this book really did cover.
Molly's relationship with her mom was something that really hurt my heart to see. Except I could see why their relationship was the way it was. Seriously, this book is just full of bad things. If you just do the opposite of basically anyone in this book, you'll probably have a good life. This book has Bad Parents, Bad Friends, Bad Lovers and just about bad everything else as well. What did Molly's mother do that was so bad? She wrote a book that revealed her daughter's deepest darkest secret. A message to all the parents out there, if your child is willing to trust you with their darkest secret, DO NOT WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT AND HAVE THE BOOK PUBLISHED. If you do that, I think you should have instead written book called Bad Parenting 101 or How to Estrange your Child From You In 10 Easy Steps. Never the less, seeing Molly's relationship with her mom hurt me, because, as some of you might know, my mom just died about three months ago and I now thoroughly believe in showing your loved ones how much you care for them.
Anyway, if you're considering reading this book, I advise you to go into it expecting a lot of bad choices to be made. It is a good read, the writing style is enjoyable and the plot did have me unable to tear my eyes away from the book. But I just could not bring myself to really love the book because of all the dumb, selfish decisions made over the course of the story. This book had a lot of potential to be good, and, in my opinion, only use about thirty percent of it. I think there were a lot of other routes this story could've taken that would've made it a five star book, but it fell flat there. The characters are so realistically flawed, so if you like realistic stories, this is definitely one you should read. It certainly is one of those raw and real things. Not the fluffy cute story I was looking to read yesterday.
Anyway, thanks for reading my slightly rant-ish review. Hopefully I'll be able to get another one up soon, but with exams just around the corner, I'm not so sure. If you're interested in seeing my actual thoughts while reading the book, feel free to friend me on Goodreads, I'm Anji Cooper. I can tell you that all my thoughts posted while reading this were very angry thoughts.