A dark, emotional read filled with pain and loss but also love and hope. It reminds you how precious life is and how, even in the darkest of times, hope can always shine though.
You know how sometimes you come across a book where you read the blurb and it just makes you want to drop everything in your life so you can read it? This book did that to me. From the moment I heard about it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I wasn’t always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.
Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.
Colton didn’t teach me how to live. He didn’t heal the pain. He didn’t make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.
The dedication set the tone for the story. Heavy. Emotional. Hitting you right in the heart.
“This book is for anyone who has ever lost a loved one, for anyone who has woken up crying and gone to bed the same way, for anyone who has had to learn that it’s okay to not be okay. Surviving isn’t strength, it’s continuing to breathe one day at a time; strength is learning to live despite the pain.”
I love Jasinda Wilder’s writing. She made me fall in love. She ripped out my heart. She made me grieve. But then she made me move on. Not forget, but just move forward. And find a way to be happy again. I truly felt like I went through the journey with the heroine.
Kyle and Nell grew up together. They’d been inseparable since they were babies and it was almost inevitable that they end up together. Everyone almost expected it and for so many reasons, they were just perfect for each other.
The author captured both the thrill and fumbling perfection of first love – the awkwardness, curiosity, desire, hope… I felt it all. But at the same time, I read with a certain sense of dread. Because of the blurb and the teaser chapter, I knew what was coming and I dreaded it.
But regardless of knowing it was coming, “that” scene still ripped my heart out again and made my cry. I felt it so strongly. Felt it to my core.
After Kyle’s death (not a spoiler, because it’s mentioned in the blurb), I just read scene after scene constantly on the verge of tears. When Nell cried, I cried with her. I could feel how broken she was with all my heart. And it was just shattering.
“I wanted nothing more than to climb into the box with him and quit breathing, find him in whatever came after life.”
At the funeral was where Nell saw Colton for the first time since she was a kid. He was the complete opposite of Kyle. The bad boy to Kyle’s golden boy reputation. Rugged, tattooed, and most importantly, understanding of her pain. He offered her comfort without question or judgment.
“I hold her. I don’t tell her it’s okay.
“Be mad,” I say. “Be hurt. Be broken. Cry.”
They just had this… connection. It was subtle and unspoken. But, without a doubt, there.
At first, there was the tiniest feeling of ‘too soon’ for me. But the more I think about it now, the more I understand it. She loved Kyle because it made sense. He was her best friend and everything in life had pointed them right at each other. But what she felt for Colton was never predestined, it just was. Undeniably so.
At this point we are treated to Colton’s POV. Two years later, in NYC, Colton runs into Nell and can see that she has still not let go of the pain of losing Kyle. It still haunts her and he is determined to help her through it.
“I can’t fix her. I know this too. I’m not going to try. I’ve had too many goody-goody girls hook up with me, thinking they can fix me. I also know I’m not going to stay away.”
Colton understood her. Deeply. Having suffered through a very different childhood than his brother, he understands pain. He’s not trying to get her to move on, but just to allow herself to feel the pain. To let it in and to deal with it.
“We understand each other, Nelly. We’ve both lost someone we love. We both have scars and regrets and anger. We can do this together.”
“I can’t be fixed.”
“You’re committed to being broken forever?”
“Goddamit, Colton. Why are you doing this? You don’t know me.”
“I want to.” It’s the answer to both of her statements.“
This book deals with some heavy themes and the story was emotional but there were also several moments that had me snorting with laughter.
Music played a big part in this book as well. It gave a voice to the pain. A voice to the emotions that were bottled up deep inside. The songs really got to me and I cried while reading almost every one.
There were both 5 star moments in this book as well as a few that made me go squinty-eyed but over all, I loved the story.
The novel is a great length – not too long, not too short. It gives you plenty of time to connect with the characters. It’ll rip out your heart, but it’ll also allow you to heal and leave you in a happy place.
If you are looking for a new, emotional read, this would be a great choice.
“… when you feel that kind of all-consuming need for someone, a person you’d do fucking anything for, no matter what? They’re in your fucking skin, in your soul, like the essence of who they are is imprinted on you so completely like the very air you breathe… That’s love.”
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