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BOOK REVIEW – I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

BOOK REVIEW –  I’ll Meet You There by Heather DemetriosI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

I’ll Meet You There was emotionally intense and impossible to put down.  The plight of the characters was gut wrenching and all-consuming.  It was so easy to be pulled into their dire lives and I fell deeply for this book.  Yet I personally struggled, since it made me dive straight into my past.  And that hurt.  Oh my gosh, it hurt too damn much being back there.  But I’ll Meet You There was such an important story and accurate portrayal of PTSD.  I can’t even express how thankful I am that this book was written.

“This buddy of mine always tells me—” He stopped for a second and tapped his key against the steering wheel. I waited for him to finish his thought, but it was like he’d already gotten out of the truck. Like Mom, he wasn’t there.
“Josh?” I reached out to touch his arm, but he jerked away.
“I’m fine,” he snapped.
“Okay,” I said, my voice soft.

I loved Skyler our heroine!  She was witty, sentimental, had a great sense for people, and she knew how to handle life to the best of her abilities….for the most part.  With graduation under her belt and plans to leave her little town, everything was looking up.  I have to say that I loved knowing the area she was from.  My bestie is originally from that area, and if you aren’t familiar with the armpit of California off Hwy 99 well…..it’s insanely hot, rural, and in certain parts there truly isn’t a lot to do.  Especially job wise.  But Skyler is going to attend college in San Francisco, on a scholarship, and she has one last summer to spend with her friends while working at the local motel.

“You hick bastard.”
“I love it when you talk dirty.”

You will want to meet her friends!  They were quirky and hilarious without even trying.  They stood out strongly, and the three of them together were just like peas and carrots and corn.  I swear that’s a thing.  I would love to read another story about each of them – Dylan was her female best friend and Chris was her male best friend.  Or I could just go dancing with Chris or cruising to a party with Dylan.  Oh, I want to meet these people!

I lay down next to him. “I’m glad you’re home,” I whispered.
His hand found mine and held it.

Skyler has another friend, Josh, who is a few years older than her.  They had worked at the local motel together, before he was deployed overseas for a tour with the Marine Core.  Upon returning home, Josh has one less leg and a horrific case of PTSD.  My fingers literally ached to reach out and comfort him.  Especially when we would get these few pages from Josh’s point of view where he was open, honest and layed out all of his pain and suffering for us to see.  The mental and physical anguish he was in broke my heart.  Literally.  It felt as though it was shattering into a billion teeny tiny pieces.

Why did I make it when so many other guys got wasted? And now it’s like I lost a leg and gained another fuckin’ eye that’s letting me see everything in this totally new, crappy light and all this shit that used to make me me I either can’t do or is so fucking stupid—God, what’s the point of me? – Josh

But Josh has this other side to him.  The one that I rooted and cheered to stay at the forefront.  He could be so sweet and caring to Skyler.  Even when he was teaching her something like chess, my heart would race and I had a permanent smile on my face.  Josh was infectious in the best possible way with his charm.  And I hoped they could support and fight their demons together.  

I wasn’t going to cry, I wasn’t. That wouldn’t solve anything. I closed my eyes until the tears retreated down my throat and back into my chest, where they seemed to live these days.

Demons. *hiccup sobs* This book was a very hard subject for me.  For quite a few reasons, but the hardest reason of all was being thrown back to when I was 14-20 years old.  Someone I loved, and who was my best friend in the world, had a father that suffered PTSD from his time in Vietnam.  I don’t want to say more, since it’s not my story to tell, but this book placed me back into that situation.  Of despair.  Of pain.  Of lost hope for someone so full of happiness and life.  It gutted me and I sobbed hysterically for the past.  Not only for the person that suffered, but for their family and loved ones too.  Those few pages in Josh’s point of view put me back in my best friend’s dad’s home where I held my breath that it would be a good night, even though it usually wasn’t.  To those memories where I tried my hardest to help or distract him while his father was suffering.  My heart still hurts to this day that my presence could only do so much to ease his pain.  Oh, this book, it reminded me of so many moments that I had forgotten.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. His lips brushed my hair.
“I’ve got you.”
I’ve got you. My blood racing, his heart pounding against my chest, I lifted my head and pressed my lips against his cheek. It was warm and scruffy, and I wanted to do it again and again, but I didn’t. I felt him smile.
“Thanks for having my back,” I said.
“Any time.”

While I am so grateful this story will impact people so deeply, I closed that last page feeling broken even though I loved so much of I’ll Meet You There.  I was not prepared to step back into my past.  But clearly if you don’t have my type of history, then I truly believe you’d love every part of this book.  The characters were so vivid, the conversations made me feel as though I was there and the emotions the characters felt resonated deep inside of me.  I will definitely be reading her other books in the future!

PS A special thank you to Chelsea for gifting me this beautiful book.  You know what and who I will love oh so well. *hugs*  Thank you!!

BOOK REVIEW: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

BOOK REVIEW: Something Real by Heather DemetriosSomething Real by Heather Demetrios
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

His hands settle on either side of my waist, and I lean into him. It’s terrifying, caring about someone this much. To allow them to be the air you breathe.

I think it goes without saying that I’ve found an amazing new author to obsess over. There is literally nothing-ABSOLUTELY NOTHING-better than an author who knows how to write characters that are both diverse and unforgettable and a story that is not only authentic, but makes you crave for more, even as you turn the last page. It isn’t often that I become completely sad for a story to end, but twice in a row, as I’ve read her books, I’ve slowly started to turn into a melancholy piece of work as I realized, yet again, that a new favorite set of characters were about to disappear from my life forever.

“Patrick…I’m sorry, I wanted to but-”
“Don’t listen to a word my sister tells you, Patrick Sheldon. Unless it’s that she wants you.”
I. Am. Going. To. Kill. My. Brother.
Ever calm, cool, and collected, Patrick gives me a sardonic raise of his eyebrows, then he turns and flashes Benny a half smile. “Excellent.”

I won’t lie and say I got immediately sucked into this one like I did with her other contemporary, I’ll Meet You There. There was just something so touching about that boy who came back from the war a broken man and Sky’s struggle to get out of her suffocating hometown. In that regard, I saw many similarities in the story-the idea that our main character was suffocating and longing for a different role in life. And while I still was immediately drawn to the wonderful and absolutely addictive writing style of Demetrios, I struggled to follow all the chaos surrounding the first quarter of the book. We get introduced to a very hectic lifestyle where cameras are shoved into the main character’s face at every turn and we meet all 11 of her siblings in a rapid fire of thoughts and different scenarios. And while it wasn’t necessarily difficult to follow, I still struggled to fall effortlessly into the story because I was so tired after a long work week. It was just a lot, at first.

Patrick watches off to the side, his hands in his pockets. I love the way he looks at me. There’s chaos all around him-shrieking kids, a camera crew, my mother. But he’s undaunted, calm as ever, just leaning against the wall. It’s like he can put the world on mute for me.

But, as I have discovered with Demetrios’s writing, it did NOT take me long to fall hard for this story. Or namely…for a boy named Patrick. Gosh, really? I mean, REALLY?! How is it possible for an author to create such visceral characters that I physically ache for them to truly exist. Seriously-first Josh, the soldier who still has his claws sunk deep into my heart (I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from him-MY GAHD). And now? Now we have the super sensitive Patrick who would do literally anything-ANYTHING-for Bonnie/Chloe. It was beyond adorable to see what he was willing to do to get time with her, to protect her, to be there for her….when something started to go awry with the show, he’d immediately find a way to contact her and was always understanding and always irate on her behalf. It was utterly heartwarming to see how much he loved and cared for her. If he could have wrapped her up in his arms to shield her from the world, I really think he would have. The amount of support in his warm brown eyes was almost too much to handle…seriously.

Sheldon1015: Hey…you awake?
Sheldon1015: Your phone is off. I think you have enough evidence if you want to tell the police you have a stalker-I left way too many anxious boyfriend texts.
Sheldon1015: Crap. MetaReel can’t read your texts can they? I don’t know how them tapping your phone actually works.
Sheldon1015: Chloe.
Sheldon1015: Chloe.
Sheldon1015: Chloe.
Sheldon1015: This is my cyber version of throwing pebbles at your window. Is it working?
YoSoyChloe: Hey
Sheldon1015: Hey! (I’m still working on the right term of endearment for you, so know that I’m saying more than “hey.”)

And Chloe…Bonnie…whatever we call her, she was quite the main character to follow. Growing up in a world with no privacy, Chloe started out her life in a very abnormal fashion-everything she did, everywhere she went, every defining moment in her life was all recorded for America to witness. And wouldn’t this mold a child in an odd fashion? Maybe most come out alright, but for Chloe it was suffocating, blinding, torment. The walls began to close in around her and she felt she had no other options than to seek a way out…and it destroyed the show forever. Or so she thought.

The room seems to get smaller and smaller as more people crowd into it, and I can’t think, it’s so loud. I push past my siblings, throw my hand up against a camera lens that blocks my path.
“Get out of my way!” I scream. I stumble blindly past bodies, tearing at the high neck of my dress, gasping for air. I’m choking, gagging. I have to get upstairs before I throw up. Please let me get upstairs. Please, God, please.

Fast forward 4 years later and MetaReel is back, right when Chloe has began to feel normal and whole again. Right when she has normal friends, a normal crush, a normal mediocre life. She immediately gives way to panic and begins to feel the walls closing in around her again, but there’s nothing she can do. If she ruins the show again it could cost her family, and she doesn’t want to do anything more to hurt them or their image-even if it almost kills her to do so.

“Just thinking about how I’m going to be a lonely old cat lady living all by myself someday,” I say.
Tessa shakes her head. “Not if Patrick has anything to do with it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
I watch my boyfriend score a goal with expert precision. Is there anything he’s not good at?
“Chlo, that boy has forever written all over his face when he looks at you. A cat lady you shall never be.”

But lets not forget her shining rays of hope: Her brother, Benny, whom I adored, her newly acquired boy, Patrick, her best friends, Mer and Tessa, and then Benny’s boyfriend, Matt. When the book finally began to close in and center around this wonderful little cast of characters, that’s when the story really began for me. We started to see how deeply rooted her support system was and how much they all cared for her (and Benny-since he was in the same situation). We saw the backlash of not conforming to what your family wants and what happens when you don’t follow what everyone thinks you need to be doing. Word gets out that Chloe Baker is actually Bonnie Baker, and the safe little bubble she’s created for herself explodes.

“…But I really…I’ve been wanting to ask you out for a while now, and I wish I’d done it earlier, before all this happened, but I wasn’t totally sure…I mean, one minute I’m convinced you feel the same way, and the next you hardly talk to me. But that day you ran out of class, all I wanted to do was follow you. I couldn’t handle seeing you upset like that. Um”
“Sorry. What was I saying?”
“You wanted to follow me.”
This is the best day of my life. Which is weird, because it was maybe the third worst about five minutes ago.
“Right. So. My question is, how do you feel about boyfriends?”
Best. Day. Ever.
“I feel…do you mean boyfriends in general or specific boyfriends?”
“Very specific.”
“Isn’t there an order to this? Aren’t there steps that we’re skipping-”
“Screw steps. I want to be with you.”

I really enjoy this author and am sad there aren’t many books to binge read. I am in a serious I-need-more-by-this-author funk and I don’t think it’s going to be easy to move on after her last two stories I have read. I can’t even begin to express what her books, the friendships, and the boys she creates mean to me, but I hope my ramblings do an okay job. No, this didn’t touch I’ll Meet You There, but I still loved it for different reasons. Not every book has to reach you in the same ways-all you need is the comfort of that author’s writing for you to feel grounded and like you are where you belong. When I read these books, it feels like I’m finally coming home. What more can a girl ask for?

 

 

***********************************

*4.5 Stars*

One thing is has became absolutely crystal clear to me this past week:

Heather Demetrios creates THE BEST male leads. EVER.

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Like, wow.

Oh, Patrick. I love you. ♥

Review to come.

BOOK REVIEW: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

BOOK REVIEW: I’ll Meet You There by Heather DemetriosI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

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.

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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.
-Josh

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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?
-Josh

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.
-Josh

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.
-Josh

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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.

Ten deep breaths.
One prayer: uncertain and desperate.
Five recitations of
FUCK, FUCK, OH GOD, FUCK.
Two tears.

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