Starting out, I wasn’t that thrilled by this book. I mean, there wasn’t anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t clicking with me. Harper was more standoffish and abrasive than I was expecting, and on top of that, the whole thing with her sister’s suicide was fairly depressing.
When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.
Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.
Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
But happily, it didn’t take too long for me to change my mind about the book. True, Harper stays standoffish and abrasive, but as she starts to deal with her sister’s death, she opens up a little more, and I felt like I could better understand where she was coming from. And I came to appreciate that Harper’s a little more bad-A than most YA contemporary MCs—it ended up being quite refreshing, actually.
I really liked Laney, Harper’s best friend. To be honest, I feel like the slutty best friend is a little overdone in YA contemporaries, but Laney stood out to me for her loyalty to Harper and her resolve to stand by her even when Harper’s being a total bitch (I really did try to think of a nicer word, but, nope, that's the most accurate),which she is for, like, three-fourths of the book.
Now Jake Tolan . . . there’s a boy I could swoon over. He gives off that reformed bad boy vibe, which is all too appealing, and he’s totally hot to boot. But more than that, despite being fairly moody himself, he’s honest and doesn’t BS his way around. And did I mention that he’s really hot?
The only problem I had with the book was Harper’s age. She’s 16, but I felt like there were a lot of more mature elements to the story (drinking, smoking, sex, etc.) that I would’ve been more comfortable with if she were even just 18. I mean, I know teenagers even younger than 16 deal with that stuff all the time, but for my own peace of mind, I would’ve liked it if she were a little older.
Overall, I ended up really liking this book. A large part of that may be because of that hottie Jake, but I think the story itself does a good job at balancing serious, heavy issues with the fun road trip aspects. I’d definitely read something else by this author.
Rating 4 / 5