Well this was really different read and I liked it!
From the moment I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. The blurb alone gave me goosebumps and had me so intrigued. Check it out…
Ten-year-old Caleb Tanner wants nothing to do with Sylvie Cranston, the annoying weird girl who moves next door to him and gets him in trouble for swearing. But at twelve, they become friends when he teaches her how to hook a fishing line and she shows him the value of a selfless act. At fourteen, he falls in love with her.
At sixteen, she dies.
Or so he’s told. But Cal never believes it. Sylvie has become part of his soul. He knows her like the steady beating of his own heart. He’d know if she was dead. Cal looks for her, prays for her and finally he just waits for her.
Nine years later, she walks into the community college English class Cal is teaching. Only this girl claims her name is Sophie Becker and she doesn’t know him. Cal knows better. He’s determined to get the girl he loves back—and protect her from the danger that took her away all those years ago.
See?? Woah, right?
I loved the premise and the story had me hooked me right from the very first page with this quote…
“I never planned for Sylvie Cranston to be my best friend. I never expected her to be the muse in all my dreams, or the girl who later haunted my nightmares. I certainly never planned to fall in love with her, but that was exactly what happened.
Everyone told me I needed to move on. That was like asking me to pierce my own flesh and crush my empty, beating heart. They wanted me to toss it away and continue to breathe. How could a man function without his heart?”
I loved the way the first half of the book was laid out. It was told in a mixture of present day events where Caleb was an adult living his life but searching for this girl who he was convinced was still alive, and those chapters were intermingled with flashbacks to their childhood together that started when they were both 10 years old on the day when Sylvie’s family moved in next door to Caleb’s.
Something about the whole story really drew me in…. almost as though there was a whole lot more beneath the surface that I just wasn’t seeing yet. I loved that about it. It kept me guessing and theorizing and trying to piece the story together as I read. OMG some scenes gave me chills and shivers!! I kept looking for clues because I knew everything in the past was leading up to her supposed death and I was trying to see if I could understand what was happening.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re behind a locked door under the covers or walking around in the middle of the night. If something’s gonna get you, it’ll get you no matter what.”
There was something very endearing about the way Caleb and Sylvie’s friendship built. It just made my heart squeeze. And it had that beautiful quality of being able to be light and carefree one moment and then delivering a line that just really hit your in the heart the next.
“The girl didn’t have to win my heart. She owned it outright.”
I also really enjoyed the way the flashback scenes were mixed in with the present day. In the present day, I couldn’t help but wonder if this new girl really was Sylvie, or was she someone else? Was he crazy for holding on to the idea of her being alive? Or was he the only sane one of them all? It sounded like he was a little crazy but there was a chance he was right.
“I restrained myself from grabbing her arm, snatching off those sunglasses and releasing her hair from the baseball cap. It was a surefire way to get myself canned or grant me a one-way hall pass to a psychiatric hospital… I was searching for a dead girl after all.”
I really loved that I didn’t know the whole story up front and that it all got revealed in these little bits and pieces, in layers. Each time, I figured something out, I had a little mini ahah!! moment in my head.
More than once, the story brought tears to my eyes. Initially the romantic element was slow building but in a way that naturally reflected them growing up together… As the story went on though, Sylvie kept keeping him at bay though and while this would normally have frustrated me, it didn’t here because I knew there was something more going on with her, something secret that I didn’t know yet.
“It doesn’t matter what we call ourselves. We belong to each other.”
Ok now, about the second half of the book. I felt a little differently about it than I did the first half. A big reveal is made exactly half way through that kind of takes the book in a different direction. After this point, I have to admit that the story lost a little bit of that spark that had me so connected to the first half of the book. So far, the story had been a little mysterious, a little romantic, and everything was building in these layers together and honestly, it was pretty awesome. But after the reveal, things changed and the whole vibe of the story felt… different. It was no longer quite as plot focused, and there was just a lot of sex. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sex in books at all (heck, I read romance after all) but I like there to be a leeeeetle more plot mixed in with it all than there was here. So, I’d say the story fell a little flat to me for a little while. It wasn’t bad at all though, please don’t think that! But it just wasn’t quite the same for me as the first half. And there were also a few things here and there that kinda made me a squint skeptically at the page… But then it picked back up again!! There was a new twist that I swear I never saw coming (and I love when that happens!!) that again spun the book in a different direction again and really re-engaged me into the story. I also loved the ending and the epilogue was very sweet. The last line even made me teary.
Oh, just a random note — A few readers told me they thought the blurb reminded them a little of Hopeless and it’s true to a certain extent that there are similarities but I can say that having read the book and knowing the twist, the plot is actually not at all the same. It just seems that way a little until you find out what really happened.
So overall, I’d say I definitely enjoyed this book. It was really different and kept me guessing. I loved Cal’s devotion and how he never wanted to give up and I loved the way the whole story was set up. Also, it’s a standalone romance so you get the completed story told here with no loose ends.
Rating: 4+ stars