I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on December 22, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
"A funny, poetic, big-hearted reminder that life can—and will—take us all by surprise.”—Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she's about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend's brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure's soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.
I went into this book expecting one thing, and winding up with something even better. Lucille is only seventeen, but already she is being forced to grow up. Her father had a breakdown, and her mother took a vacation that she didn’t return from, leaving Lucille to take care of her little sister, Wren. No one can know, though, because Lucille is terrified that if people know they will take Wren away from her.
This isn’t a story where everything is easy, and things magically fall into place. Instead, Lucille has to fight every step of the way to pay the bills, buy groceries, take care of her sister, and still keep attending school. While she does have her best friend, and the boy she has a crush on, for the most part Lucille is on her own. And she shines. Life is nowhere near easy, yet she continues to rage and to fight for herself and for her sister. It was awe-inspiring, and I swear I felt like my throat was being squeezed by emotion throughout this entire book.
The ending was not at all what I expected, and it doesn’t tie up all the ends neatly, but it was so perfect because no matter how it could have ended other than this, I think I would have been disappointed. Instead, we have an open ending, not in that there should be a sequel, but in that you can decide for yourself how you hope it will go on from that last line. Normally I detest endings like this. This book is not normal though, so the ending fit nicely.
There is some time spent jumping between the past and the present, but it’s well written and flows so well together that I didn’t find it disruptive at all. We see times from before Lucille’s mom left, and before her dad had his nervous breakdown. We see that Lucille and Wren lived a fairly normal life before, which so starkly contrasts with the life they are living now, which is anything but normal. The juxtaposition between before and after makes the after seem so much worse, while the before seems almost idyllic.
The writing is amazing, with such rich prose that it was as though Estelle Laure was painting the words upon my brain. Heart-wrenching and beautiful in turns, this was a book that I couldn’t put down, and then when I finished it I couldn’t help but hold my eReader close to my chest and sigh. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from this book:
“Explain to me what the point of living is if you aren’t willing to fight for the truths in your heart, to risk getting hurt. You have to rage.”