“From the moment you came into my life all those years ago, you made me feel like I had a purpose on this Earth. Over time, I discovered what it was. It was to love you.”
Ok… this review is going to be a little different than my usual ones. But before anything, I’m going to show you the blurb of the book (which was all I knew about it going it) and you’ll probably be able to understand why I immediately HAD to read this book… seriously, this blurb made my heart squeeze!!
… a friends-to-lovers story of longing, passion, betrayal and redemption…with a twist that will rip your heart out.
Skylar was my best friend, but I secretly pined for her. One thing after another kept us apart, and I’ve spent the last decade in fear of losing her forever.
First, it was the cancer, but she survived only to face the unthinkable at my hands. Because of me, she left town. For years, I thought I’d never see her again.
But now she’s back…and living with him.
I don’t deserve her after everything I’ve put her through, but I can’t live without her. This is my last chance because she’s about to make the biggest mistake of her life. I can see it her eyes: she doesn’t love him. She still loves me…which is why I have to stop her before it’s too late.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had such a LOVE-HATE relationship with a book before. I started out loving this book. My heart went right out to these kids and I connected to them and their story very quickly. But, I’m not going to lie, there was a point about half way through the book where I was so furious at the storyline and characters that I was this close to throwing my Kindle at the wall and putting the book down for good… but dammit, I cared for these characters even though I was beyond frustrated with them so I kept reading. Truthfully, by now I was so angry that I didn’t even have pity for them any more. They’d each made SO many stupid decisions that I was at a point where I was just like “Well, you fucking deserve to be miserable!!” But… the thing is that in between all of their infuriating decisions, I’d also really, truly fallen in love with them — both individually and together — and I couldn’t help but want them to find happiness.
You know how they say that you can be hurt strongest by the ones you love the most? Maybe the reason I was SO angry and upset by their decisions was because I cared about them so much? ‘Cuz there was no doubt about it, despite the fact that I was ready to just stop reading, I still freaking CARED. Ugh, I wish I didn’t but I totally did. The romantic in me couldn’t deny that these two were meant for each other, that they loved each other with all their hearts even if they kept making the wrong decisions over and over and over and over and over and fucking over again…. so I was rooting for them. I couldn’t help it. I just wanted them to find happiness — *sniff* — and they did of course, it just took a helluva lot of pain and more than fifteen years of self-inflicted emotional torment to get there. But love always finds a way, right? There really isn’t a strong enough word for how PISSED OFF I was over their past, but as mad as I was, I couldn’t stop myself from feeling the joy of their reunion. By the end of their story, I had happy tears in my eyes.
Gah. This really was a rough journey for me. Honestly, it was almost too much. See, I like to read books where it’s “them against the world”, not “them against each other” …. and in this book, even though they both loved each other with all their hearts, their endlessly repeated wrong choices made their past more of a “them against each other” situation. They were their own worst enemy. This is just a personal thing, but I have a really hard time reading that kind of storyline. I think it’s one of the most frustrating things ever when you literally have no one to blame for the pain they’re going through but THEM. And honestly, if I look back over the course of their past, I blame both of them equally for all the mistakes. For every one of her mistakes, I can name you one of his so it’s not even like I can blame one while loving the other.
See, in my opinion, in order to maintain any semblance of a functional relationship, when one person acts dumb, the other person needs to work doubly hard to gets things back on track . That’s the only way to make things work because inevitably people will fuck up in life, no one is perfect. The problem here was that they each made mistake after mistake but neither one of them EVER balanced the other out so they were stuck in this never-ending cycle of fuck-ups and at the half way mark, I was at the point where I’d lost any sense of pity for them because (other than her illness), their hurt was entirely self-inflicted.
So yeah, I was at the midpoint and seriously was about to put the book down for good, not review it, and try my best to forget about it. But like I said…. I just couldn’t let go. Fucking hell. As much as I hated their decisions, I did love these guys SO MUCH and every time their lives brought them back together in some way, it was SO clear that they’d never stopped loving each other that my heart would just melt and even though I was furious beyond all reason, I still so desperately wanted them to find happiness.
***** DEEP BREATH ****** (PS, this was me at this point)
I did however love the “present” day part of the book. Ok, not quite true, it took me a while to warm up to it because I was still really angry BUT I did feel for it. Their spark, their intense connection, their chemistry, everything was so strong. THIS was the story I wanted to read. Honestly, I feel like their past was written too extreme — there were TOO many mistakes, too many fuck ups. I’m still really angry about them.
But I really LOVED that this book showed that time didn’t matter for love. When you love someone and you lose them and then you’re faced with that that person again, regardless of the hurt, the pain, or the emotional devastation, in the deepest part of your heart, it’s like no time has passed. If it’s real, true love, those feelings don’t fade… even if it’s been a lifetime.
I was a mess. I was so pissed at them and yet I was also rooting for them so strongly. I had tears in my eyes when they finally came back together and gahhhhhh I don’t even have words. It was pretty powerful and was like the biggest jumble of feelings you can imagine. There’s especially this one GORGEOUS line in the epilogue that literally made me burst into (happy) tears the second I read it.
One thing is for sure: this book really hit almost every emotion on the spectrum for me.
So, I have a serious love-hate relationship with this story. But see, I think the most important thing for me to take away from this book is that looking BACK on it, I have to admit that my feelings are all mostly positive even though while I was reading it there were a lot of times when I absolutely hated it. And by that, I genuinely mean that I had about the most extreme negative reaction I’ve ever had to a book. But the fact that it’s the positive feelings from the second half that stayed in my heart the strongest after having finished it is something that I feel speaks very strongly for the book as a whole.
I’m not going to rate this book BUT that’s not a bad thing. Here’s why. I loved the beginning — like in a 4.5 star way. I loved how strong their love for each other was — like in a 5 star way. I’m still really pissed by their past and their choices — like in a 2 star way. But I loved their present — like in a 4.5 star way. But an average of those isn’t fair. I wouldn’t call this a 3 star book. But because of their past, I just can’t put a super high rating on it without feeling wrong about it. But…. gah. This book made me feel, it made me care, it put me through every emotion (even though many of those emotions were really not ones I wanted to feel), and I loved the depths of their love for each other. But I just can’t label my feelings with a number.
I’m going to be very honest here… I can understand people LOVING this book (and most readers seem to be feeling this way). But, I can also understand people being so frustrated that they give up half way through. However, I do think that if you go all the way through to the end, you’ll end in a good place.
Dammit. Ok, I’ll just admit — I’m still really pissed but I did really like it.
Oh, and it’s a standalone.