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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.
Why is it that some people in the world get to wake up in beautiful houses with fairly normal parents and enough food in the fridge while the rest of us have to get by on the scraps the universe throws at us? And we gobble them up, so grateful. What the hell are grateful for?
Beautiful, profound, thought-provoking. More than anything I wanted to read something that erased the filth from my prior book. I really didn’t know what I was going to read, which rarely happens to me, but I was determined to find the perfect fit. So, a few days ago I saw this totally random and ghastly cover on the feed because a friend of mine had been reading it. I saw words like ‘favorite’ and ‘best of 2015’-to say I was intrigued is an understatement. Naturally I had to know what this horrible book cover represented. The blurb held a lot of promise, I have to say, but I’m not one to necessarily like these kinds of stories-but after that previous massacre of a book, I was open to anything that might be a bit different and off the path for me. But OMG, never in my life did I imagine that I’d find an instant favorite-I opened this story up and thought, hmmm, okay….So this might not be for me. Then, out of nowhere, we got Josh’s POV and we began to see why things were the way they were and why people were the way they were and…This book?? This book became my world. This book became my everything. This book owned my soul.
When I got to his truck, I leaned against it, drinking the night air in great, heaving gulps. My hands were shaking, and my lips tingled, and the skin around my wrist-the part that Josh had touched-the skin was singing.
I am always the black sheep on stories like these. When I first got an account on Goodreads, I tried to conform to what popular reviewers were reading and I was sure there was something wrong with me because I would read them and just feel…Nothing. Such classics as [book:The Sweet Gum Tree|2761356] and others like [book:The Edge of Never|16081272] and way more that I could care less about remembering were so highly spoken of on here and I just knew I had to like them. And I did….A little. But the whole time, while I read them, all I could think was, ‘Why is this so popular? Literally nothing is happening and this drama…Why the drama??’ I, for the life of me, could not find this deep and spiritual connection that everyone was getting with these stories. The drama felt forced, to me, and I just kept rolling my eyes because life isn’t that hard. It just isn’t. And, while it’s awesome that people adored these stories, they bored me. Yet I rated them highly and grasped onto the few good things in the books that excited me so I would fit in (I recently have been trying to rectify all those old false ratings). Why?? What was I trying to prove?? These books just Were. Not. For. Me. And that’s okay! So, my whole point is, in a roundabout way, that I avoid these types of books because I just have extreme difficulty reading about daily life with very little going on-It drags, frankly, and I just need something, anything to feel even an ounce of enjoyment. That is…until this book.
Sky turns around and waves and she has this little smile on her face and suddenly I’m okay, like she broke through the mess of me. I remember I don’t need to be at that razor’s edge anymore, so I drive home. I don’t realize I’m smiling until I see my reflection in the side mirror. Didn’t even recognize myself.
This book is everything I try to avoid: Slow pace, daily activities and trivial dramas, and small town bias. But Holy Shit, guys. Nothing could have prepared me for how deeply I felt for these characters. That town. That life. It all seems so trivial, learning about where our main character works and how she and Josh have always worked together at the Paradise Motel. But I swear to you, I swear to you all, this book was not slow. It was not boring. Not one page passed where I wasn’t drooling over the writing or tearing up for Josh or wishing for a better life for Sky. It’s like this book was made for me. The drama felt real. The pain felt real. The sacrifices and friendships and slow-building relationships weren’t forced or misguided-they were genuine and authentic. Everything happened for a reason-Or maybe it didn’t, I don’t know, but what I do know, for certain, is that I’ve never felt such a deep-rooted connection, that physical connection I oh-so-crave, with a contemporary quite like this. It was a long story, but it never once felt excessive or drug out. And I just want to hug my IPad and squeeze it tight and never let it go, because I just don’t know how to let go of these characters and I never wanted this story to end.
”How’s the Sky today?” he asked, his voice soft.
What am I supposed to do when I’m bad for the one good thing in my life?
I guess I better say a little about the characters, shouldn’t I? I mean, they ARE the reason I’m so obsessed, right? Right. Okay. So….First we have Sky. She lives in a trailer park-has her whole life-and hates Creek View, the town she’s grown up in. She longs to get out of Creek View, to learn and create and to absorb art to it’s fullest extent. She wants more out of her life, more for her mother’s life. Longs for the people in town to want more, need more, strive for more. Well, she has her ticket out-A college in San Fran far from Creek View…and all those she loves and might be leaving behind. It isn’t until she is set to leave Creek View, after having spent a summer with the new [and somewhat improved] Josh, that she begins to see the beauty hidden underneath the grime and rough edges of Creek View.
It’s seeing your friend die and then trying to scrub his blood off your boots except it won’t come out. The water turns pink and your hands are shaking and you’ve got what’s left of someone you were just standing next to under your fingernails and you need these boots for inspection so they gotta get clean, they gotta get clean, and suddenly you’re angry, so fucking angry, stupid bastard had to die all over me, and then you’re crying like a fucking baby and the boots are red and there’s nothing you can do.
And Josh. Oooooooh my sweet, tortured soul, Josh. He makes mistake after mistake, reads situations in all the wrong ways, has a reputation and has made a name for himself that any sane person would run from, and is scarred beyond belief after his tour in Afghanistan-both physically and mentally. Needless to say, he isn’t without his flaws. Some from the war, and some he is still trying to overcome from before he left for the war-Namely womanizing, a loose tongue, and a party-boy attitude. But it’s more than that, now. What if it’s all a front, sometimes, to cover up the pain he feels from losing friends, seeing things he should never have seen, from people only seeing his prosthetic leg, or even just the God among men brat that he was before the war? How does someone handle what no one else understands?
Time to move on, buddy. I don’t really know what it means to move on, but lately, with Sky, I’m starting to feel like I want to because when I look at her, I don’t see you or the war or any of the shit in my head. I just see her, and it’s like suddenly I can breathe again after holding my breath for so long.
I’m not going to lie. Some of the things that happened would normally have made me irate. Like…Very irate. But, for some reason, literally nothing bothered me about this story. All the pain, all the heartache, all the tears, they were totally worth it. And I’m not one to embrace such brutal words or harsh misunderstandings…but it worked. Every little piece. And I wouldn’t change a damn thing. None of it. In fact, I wish in my heart of hearts that I could re-read this right away, right now, but I can’t. So, I’ll savor all these slices of perfection that were handed my way and I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But I’ll tell you this: None of you are safe. I am a book pimp, through and through, and you WILL hear about how much I loved this story….Over and over again-take my word for it. Oh, and also, I WILL be re-reading this at the first available opportunity. You bet your ass on that.
”Yeah, well…” There was the sound of some shuffling, then, “Oh, hey, you know what I ran across last night?”
“Do you mean ran literally or figuratively?”
“Ha-ha,” he said.
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”
“Guess you’re keeping me on my toes,” he said.
“All five of them.”
Josh laughed. “I walked right into that one–er, limped.”
Whether it’s my mood or the moment or the horrendous book I read before this (though I highly doubt it’s the last one) I found an instant favorite. Like…straight to the absolute favorites shelf-Which, like, never happens. I kept putting this story down, trying to do normal person, every-day activities, and would realize I still had my IPad glued to my right hand. And, even after I finished, I kept trying to start my next book-I tried to pick it up four times, but I had to keep putting it down because it just felt WRONG, like I was cheating on these wonderful characters I had fallen so deeply in love with. I had no idea what this book would come to mean to me, no idea that this book was so deep and meaningful I wouldn’t be able to function. And, in the end, I might even say it’s one of the prettiest covers I’ve ever seen…Since I TOTALLY get the understated simplicity and significance of it now and, more likely, because it WILL be on my bookshelf…IMMEDIATELY. Oorah.