“Two friends fall into a passionate romance, but first they must confront a painful past, or else lose out on the one thing they’ve been searching for in this heartrending novel from the author of Come Back to Me and Stay with Me.
Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them.
Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.
Seven years later, Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping run her family’s business. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembers—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away.
Forced to work alongside him for the summer Emerson can’t help but fall for Jake, and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate romance that neither of them wants to end.
But both Emerson and Jake know that if they’re to have any kind of future they must first confront the past—a past that most people want to stay buried.”
Trigger warnings of sexual assault and PTSD
If you like:
- Second Chance Love Stories
- Life Changes and Survival
- Emotional Situations
Then this is the book for you.
First off, I consider this to be a NA book even though it’s sold as a YA book, and to be honest, I would say the same for all of Mila’s other books. Everyone has their own thoughts of what NA is because it’s one of the more fluid genres. But the main characters are out of high school and old enough to be a freshman/sophomore in college and the content of the story from sexual assault to watching one of your parents slowly lose themselves to MS. I’m not saying that sexual assault because it could happen to anyone and shouldn’t be in YA books, but I feel like the depth of it in this book is better for a slightly older audience than those intended of the YA age range.
I’ll be honest, I believe that this is one of the first books (or one where I’m consciously aware of it since people are writing more books about it) where sexual assault is discussed in such depths and I saw the effects of it on the MC and watching the struggle of how to deal with it. Thank God that I did have a story like this to share, but there were parts of this story that really hit me because I’m such an empathetic person. I was about half way through the book when I flipped to the acknowledgements (because apparently that’s a thing that I do) and read where Mila was a victim who didn’t speak up and through this book she was sharing parts of herself, and it really broke my heart for not only her but all of the other people in the world who is unable to share what happened, isn’t believed, justice isn’t taken, or isn’t able to grieve for themselves and find some solstice in the world.
Before everything happened, Emmerson was a tom boy who played on the local boy’s ice hockey team. She had the don’t care attitude since she was on a team with a bunch of middle school boys and spends all of her free time with Jake going on adventures and exploring the woods. Then what was supposed to be one of the happiest memories of her middle school life when Jake finally kisses her, it all changed when Jake’s uncle who is also the hockey coach caught her in the locker room one night after practice and everything changes. If that’s not enough nobody believes Em except for her mom and a few other people; plus, Jake and his family up and leaves without any explanation.
But when the story picks up, Em is this reserve person who where it’s her against the world. Her life has fallen into a rut of going to work, coming home to help take care of her world, and she’s in a relationship from one the guys who liked to pick on her.
By the time she sees Jake at the start of summer, she’s not sure how to feel. The years of anger, fear, loneliness, and unresolved feelings for Jake seem to appear as sudden as his reappearance after year of radio silence. The guy who knows her better than anyone else when she was growing up let her when she needed him the most without any form of contact for seven years walks back into her life. Jake wants to try to salvage whatever is left of their relationship but Em has changed and isn’t the girl he remembers.
As the days roll on, Jake slowly breaks down her walls and he starts to see glimpse of the girl that he remembers where she meets his dares head on and has a smart reply for everything. Having Jake around gives Em a breath of life that has left from the years of emotions being bottled up, but she knows that all good things must come to an end since Jake is supposed to leave to go back to school and start the new hockey season.
Days turn into weeks and Jake and Em are able to find a relationship in the rubbles that were made. Things are looking great and a long distance relationship could be possible until parts of Jakes more recent past makes an appearance and threatens to pull apart the relationship that was just starting to take off again.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! There was a lot of character development seen in both Em and Jake in the present time with how they dealt with the past. There was also plenty of flashbacks to fill in the blanks of events as the story was being told. The only things that I had problems with was the way that time passed. Time would move normally, then the next chapter would be a couple days or even a week later and you wouldn’t know until a couple of pages in and it was confusing at moments.
I also feel like Em’s dad should’ve been in the book more. He has MS and is one of the biggest factors as to why Em didn’t go off to college after high school, and I could easily count the times that he was shown in the book. Considering the fact that he’s such a big part of her life, he felt more of a ‘filler’ character.
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- Sorry by Justin Bieber
- Faith to Fall Back On by Hunter Hayes
- Social Casualty by 5SOS
Happy reading until next time,