Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 304 pages
Source: eGalley via NetGalley
Does life go on when your heart is broken?
Since her mother's sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forward—because her mother is, in a way, still there. She's being kept alive on machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her.
Estranged from her stepfather and letting go of things that no longer seem important—grades, crushes, college plans—Emma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in her—Caleb Harrison, whose anger and loss might just match Emma's own. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?
Protagonist: Emma's life turned upside down the day her mother died, it happened so suddenly and without warning. There was no accident, no one to blame, not really, just a brain clot that left her alive on minute and dead the next. Now her mother is being kept on life support so the baby growing inside her might have a chance to survive, but Emma doesn't care, besides the numbness is a rage for her stepfather, for making her mother get pregnant, and for keeping her alive just so he can finally have his son. Emma just floats through the world now in a cloud of grief, numbness, and anger. If you haven't caught on, Emma is not a likable protagonist, it's understandable why she's hurting, even why she blames her stepfather, but dear Lord she's dense. Part of me constantly just wanted to shake some sense into her. Obviously over the course of the book she gets better and learns to see past her haze of rage and see what's really going on, but it does take a while.
Romance: I actually really enjoyed this romance. Normally I'm not a big fan of the bad boy with a heart of gold romance trope, mainly because usually the love interest isn't really a "bad boy" but due to a misunderstanding or snap judgement because of the way he's dressed he's labeled that way. But I found that this author actually did a great job of mixing a broken "bad boy" and out broken protagonist and have them begin to fix each other and be that understanding support the other has always needed. The romance isn't' particularly slow burning, in fact there's a near instant connection, but it does take a while for their feelings of friendship and companionship to grow into something more. Usually I see authors jump the gun to get to that next milestone, but I appreciate how this author just sort of let them get to know each other and lean on each other before the romance was added to the mix.
World Building: I never know how to begin this section when it comes to contemporary novels. I mean I understand the author creates a world, even if it exists within the boundaries of our own, but it's not as though I can talk about a magic system of political intrigue in a book about an angry high school teenager who is completely lost in the world. So I'll start with this. I felt like there was a disconnect between reality and this world. I mean, it's realistic sure, no magic or whatever, but I just don't quite buy some of the characters. While I'm not particularly sheltered, I do know there's more types of people in this world than I can even fathom, but even knowing that it's still hard for me quite buy not only some of these characters but the high school setting. It's hard to describe, but as I said it just feels like a slight disconnect from reality, like the author has a vague idea of how high school is really like these days and mixes that with a few stereotypes. I'm sure that's probably not true, but it's the best way I could describe it. Besides the disconnect however, I really did love this world and the author's writing is unbelievable beautiful. There were passages that if I was reading almost any other author's writing would have barely affected me or only made my eyes water, but this author was able to make tears stream down my face in certain scenes.
Predictability: I almost want to leave this section out entirely. I mean it's not like there weren't great twists to this story, but it was more that I was so engrossed in this story that I never took the time to really think about what would happen next. I mean I always had a vague idea of how the story would end, but I never though about specifics, and when there was a twist or something unexpected happened it was never this big shocking thing, just something that made sense even if I didn't call it. I guess what I'm saying is regardless of how easy this book is to predict, it's much more about the story than it is about the surprises.
Ending: Again, I'm at a loss for words. I mean there was no final climax, no huge confrontation, just life happening, even if it is fictional. The thing is there isn't all that much I can talk about here without giving something away so I'll just make this section short. Everything was wrapped up well and while the ending was the tiniest bit more idealistic than I wanted or expected, the author did a fantastic job at balancing the ending and the subplots very well.
So, in all honesty, if it wasn't for that disconnect, those few aspects of the world that I almost couldn't believe, this would get five stars. The writing is incredible and while the main character will get on your nerves incessantly just like she did for me, if you're a fan of harder contemporaries I'd highly recommend this book.