Published by Macmillan on February 3rd 2015
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
I kind of fell in love with this book. And I don’t even know how to properly express that, but I am going to try. First of all, I’ll Meet You There puts the “real” in realistic fiction. I don’t know if I have read a more authentic book than this one, with imperfect characters, and hellish experiences, and above all, the resilience to keep trying to live better.
I’ll begin with Creek View. Creek View is, for all intents and purposes, a complete abomination of a town. No one wants to live in this place, least of all Skylar (and pretty much anyone else who has the misfortune of being stuck in this dump). It is the kind of town where dreams go to die, and Skylar has basically vowed to get out before it consumes her too. Only since life happens, Skylar’s mom loses her job, and all bets are off.
Skylar works at a shady road motel to try to earn the money she’ll need to go to school. She’d worked with Josh in the past, so when he came home from the Marines, minus a leg and plus a lot of trauma, Skylar knew him. She had even “dated” his brother for about a week. Josh and Skylar never really had anything in common outside of the motel, but when he returns to work there, she realizes what a different person he has become in the wake of his experiences in Afghanistan.
The characters made this book completely. Skylar was so flawed, but so easy to love. Sky struggled so much, with the death of her father, to her mother’s lack of ambition (and extremely poor taste in male companionship), and through it all she stubbornly tried to tuck her emotions away, to be so strong. She hit some very low points over the course of the book, but she always clawed her way back to her true self. Josh was, as expected, so, so broken. He witnessed not only the loss of his leg, but the loss of so many friends and innocent citizens, and the trauma stayed with him. Upon his return to Creek View, he jumped right into the party scene because it was basically all he knew. But he knew that it simply wasn’t enough for him anymore. He hit some incredible lows as well, but it was clear that at his core, Josh was a good guy.
Sky’s friends also were very well developed. I adored Dylan. She was a teen mom, but her storyline was handled very well and I found Dylan to be a very strong female character in her own right. No, she wasn’t going to be going off to a big college, or having any grand adventures, but she was caring for her child and trying to be the best she could be. I kind of loved her. Chris was a bit different. I liked how loyal and protective of Sky Chris was, but he did seem haughty at times, like he was simply better than Creek View as a whole. And Marge. MARGE. I wish Marge was in my life, is basically the situation. There should just be a lot more Marges in the world.
The romance was beautiful. There was no insta-love, and there was heartwrenching messiness, and the loveliest of moments. Again, I just have to reiterate how completely authentic it felt. And I could have read about Sky and Josh for 400 more pages, if Heather Demetrios had written it. The thing about this book is, it isn’t just a romance. It is life. It is wonderful and awful, sometimes at the same time. There’s tons of hope, but there is also some insurmountable despair. It is quite literally how real life ebbs and flows.
Before I stop flailing, I just have to say a few things about Josh, the Marines, and Afghanistan. First, this needs to be in more books. It is the horrific reality of so many young men and women, and the feelings that Josh had have assuredly been felt by so, so many real veterans. Not only did Heather Demetrios tackle this incredibly difficult issue, she did it with class and grace, in a way that was a tribute to those men and women. She painted Josh as a whole person, she never placed him on a pedestal, and she never vilified him.
I could probably go on for days, but I will stop so you can read all about the adventures of Creek View for yourselves. Obviously, I recommend that you do, in case the gobs of gushing weren’t clear.
I figured I’d start my reviews of 2015 books off with a bang! Have you read any 2015 books so far? Any that you’d like to gush about?
Wow. Way to go, Shannon, writing such a lovely review that mine now feels like it was written by a child. No, but seriously, wonderful review! You’re so right–this book is more than just romance; it’s life. It’s love and loss and disappointments and paint and joy and everything in-between. It was so realistically and beautifully written. I want more books like this. I NEED more books like this. I need more books about the Joshes and Skys of the world. <3
Awww! Yours will be wonderful, but man, you made my day for sure! I wanted to do this book justice, and you make me feel like I have <3 I have my little collection of Heather Demetrios all ready to be gobbled up!
That sounds like such a good one. I will add it to my ever-growing TBR! 🙂
Oh, definitely do! It was amazing!
I have legit not seen a single review of this book that was rated lower than 4 stars. I absolutely loved Something Real and I have high hopes for this one–the romance has me so very excited. THEY SOUND OTP WORTHY.
Fantabulous review, Shannon <33
They are OTP worthy for sure! And I haven’t seen a bad review either, which doesn’t surprise me, because it is a solid book. I really can’t see what a complaint could be!
And I cannot WAIT to read Something Real! I am so glad you loved it!!
Yup, I was already excited about this but now I HAVE to read it, at least I don’t have to wait long. 😀 Sounds very character driven (which I love) and glad she isn’t perfect (like anyone is perfect anyway, but given her situation, she’s not going to be this perfect character) And Josh! I’m going to cry, aren’t I? 🙁 Seriously though, when I think about stuff like that it always makes me want to cry, but agreed, it should be dealt with more (but it does have to be done right) but sounds like Heather Demetrios handled it well. I’ll probably be gushing about it right alongside you soon. 😀
You may cry. But, it it’s worth it. It isn’t that kind of like “I am going to die inside” tears, more of a “holy crap, this is LIFE” tears.
I’m so glad you loved this one! I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things so it’s definitely at the top of my ‘need to buy’ list! I love the fact that the romance was beautiful, and no insta love? YES! That 100% sold me 🙂
It was really quite amazing! Hope you love it too!
Thank you for the amazing review! This book was already on my TBR, but now it’s definitely at the top. I can’t wait to read this and I’m sure I’ll love it.
Aw thanks! And I hope you do love it 🙂
Is it February yet? It needs to be February. MUST READ ASAP. Lovely review Shannon, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading it as soon as it arrives on my doorstep 😀
Aw thanks! It will be here before you know it, only about 3 weeks to go! Hope you love it too 🙂
I am so glad to see you liked this so much Shannon! 😀 I absolutely adored Heather’s Something Real and am highly anticipating this one, so your 4.5 star rating definitely has me excited. 😉 I love the sound of how the characters were so likeable and realistically flawed, and the realism of the story. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3
Thanks! I cannot wait to read Something Real, and knowing that you loved it makes me even more excited! Plus, I can’t wait to read anything that Heather writes at this point! Hope you love it when you read it 🙂
I see that you added your +5 rating! Now I need to read this book!
I did indeed! (I think my first was for The Cure for Dreaming a few weeks ago!) And yes, you do need to read it 😉 I hope you love it!
THIS BOOK WAS PURE PERFECTION. I loved the characters, the romance, the setting, the plot, the message, the freaking EVERYTHING. I just want to reread it every day. *sigh* LOVELY REVIEW, LOVELY <33
Aw, thanks! And yep, I agree, it was perfect! It isn’t often that such a book comes along, I am so glad I was able to read this one (and to think, I almost didn’t click on the little “read now”!). Glad you loved it too 🙂
WOW! You have completely sold me on this book. I didn’t like Exquisite Captive by the author, so it had kind of put me off her books. But I’d heard nothing but good things about Something Real, so I ended up buying it for myself – still need to read it. You have now made me desperate to get my hands on this one because it sounds incredible.
You know, I have read that her contemporary books are VERY different in style to Exquisite Captive. Even some fans who loved her contemps didn’t like EC, so maybe this one will work better for you! Hope you do end up enjoying it 🙂
WOW YOU EVEN ADDED AN EXTRA STAR. I really love your review Shannon! I DIDN’T KNOW THIS BOOK WAS SO REALISTIC. And not just about a romance. I feel like most YAs add romance to just “fit” the mold, but I’m glad this one didn’t.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I’ll deal with the despair and hopelessness this book seems to bring, but I think I’ll be okay. I MEAN IT IS REAL LIFE.
Aw thanks! ANd yes, this one deserved the extra star for sure! And yes, you’re right- so many YA romances are almost formulaic, and this is definitely not one of them!
It isn’t ALL despair either, there are plenty of lighter moments, it won’t be one big sobfest, but it is gritty and real!
I love it when an author can make characters fell really real. I like the sounds of all of the side characters too. No instant love? Thee authentic-ness makes me curious, but I’m afraid there’s just too much downer. I think for my first contemporary I need fluffy. lol Congrats on finding another 6 star book! 🙂
Golden Son remains my only 2015 book, but I’m really tempted to order Pacific Fire, the sequel to California Bones. (And I’m only half way into the first one!)
It really isn’t a downer! It is quite hopeful, even in the midst of such a shitstorm. It could have gone to an insanely dark place, but it didn’t. I mean, at times, yes, but at other times, no. It was balanced, I guess is what I am saying.
OOOh order it! That way, it’ll be there before you finish the first 😉
I have been seeing so many great reviews and high ratings for this book. I am so ready to read it! After reading your review, I wish I had a copy right now and I would start it. Right now!
Fantastic review, Shannon!