I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Rose’s junior year is off to a rocky start when someone posts a video of her dad getting blown up in Iraq on the internet where the world can see. It continues to spiral out of control as she tries to push Jamie into believing in himself.
This is a contemporary novel set in the real world so there’s not much worldbuilding to do. Suffice to say that I completely buy that Rose is a young woman recovering from losing her civilian dad in a war, experimenting with her first boyfriend, and struggling with school and hobbies.
I love Rose. She’s SO realistic. She’s totally average in some respects – a decent singer but a poor guitarist, mostly because she doesn’t practice. Her friendships are changing as her priorities change, her relationship with Jamie is heating up, and she’s learning that she’s not a victim just because her dad died in a horrible war. She’s maturing and facing the consequences of her actions with dignity and aplomb. She’ll be a remarkable young woman when she’s fully mature.
Rose’s relationships are always rocky, mostly because communication between her and her peeps are so poor. Her friendship with Tracey is falling apart because Tracey has no time for her. Her relationship with her mother is strengthening because of shared emotional pain. Her relationship with Jamie has its ups and downs, mostly because Jamie has taken to drinking and keeps lying to her. Her friendship with Holly is growing stronger, mostly due to them practically being step-sisters and Rose working behind Holly’s back to get her to break up with a jerk-ass and get back with a sweetheart. And we finally meet Vicky, Rose’s Texan friend who lost a son in the explosion that killed Rose’s dad. None of her relationships are perfect, and that’s what I like about this, too. Rose can only really rely on herself, and I think during the novel she begins to realise that. She can’t save everyone when she needs to save herself first.
I hate forgotten subplots. There are two in this novel. One is the end of year assignment where Rose was supposed to interview someone who had a ‘profoundly negative impact’ on her. I can’t even with this assignment. What kind of teacher would assign that? The only three people who had a profoundly negative impact on me at age 16 was the guy who tried to rape me, the math teacher who bullied me to the point I had a nervous break down and made a complaint about him, and the day carer who treated me like a retard because I was a five year old who looked like a 10 year old. None of them being memories I particular want to think about, let alone face those people ever again. That’s trauma-inducing, that assignment. And Rose doesn’t even complete it – it’s just used as an excuse to get in to see Gabe face to face – which I admit, was a tremendously emotional scene, but I just hate how the plot line was forgotten.
The other forgotten plot line was Rose and her music. After being kicked from her band she started going to a songwriting workshop, but we never found out if she was any good or what happened: did she finish the course? Were her songs any good? Did she sing them herself? What did other people think? Did she make it as a singer-songwriter, and did she get better at the guitar?
Despite the frustration of feeling like not everything has been brought to a satisfying conclusion, I utterly adored this novel just like I adored the previous two. I have absolutely nothing in common with Rose, but I always get punched in the gut in these hugely emotional scenes and I can really feel what she’s going through. I’m glad to see where her life is heading after the rough starts she had in Books 1 and 2 and I like to think she’s off to a bright, promising future and will be happy.
This song is dedicated to Rose and Jamie. I can’t find an official Taylor Swift version, so here’s a nice enough cover by Cillian Anderson.
Some choice lyrics:
And I wish you knew that I’ll never forget you as long as I live.
We’re a crooked love in a straight line down.
Makes you wanna run and hide
Then it makes you turn right back around
You always knew how to push my buttons
You give me everything and nothing
This mad mad love makes you come running