Published by Random House Children's Books on September 8th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Friendship, Runaways, Social Issues, Young Adult
"A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts." John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother's shadow. But when her father can't even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her "Lillian," shaking a reputation she didn't ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can't provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run. In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They're headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police--and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy. Shalanda Stanley's breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend? From the Hardcover edition.
This was an absolutely heart-breaking and beautifully told story. It wasn’t even on my radar but then the lovely Cassie sent me an email and I’ll admit it, the cover grabbed my attention because let’s face it… it’s gorgeous.
Once I started reading, I realized that the words inside were just as beautiful.
I don’t even know where to start with my attempt to share my thoughts.
Olivia has spent her entire life in the shadow of her mother who took her own life… even her grandmother who she lives with calls her by her mom’s name. Her father can’t bear to look at her because of the similarities and the entire town is waiting for the day she walks into the water and doesn’t come back up.
She leans on her neighbor and best friend Jamie, who’s been there through thick and thin. But lately his life isn’t so perfect and when the unthinkable happens, it’s Olivia’s turn to step up and be there for him. Max, Olivia’s on again, off again boyfriend and Maggie her best girlfriend head out on a trip that will change their lives forever.
If you’re looking for a book about amazing and solid friendships then look no further, Stanley has created some pretty incredible ones here. Whether I’m talking about Jamie and Olivia, or Olivia and Maggie or Jamie and Max or Max and Olivia these four teens are just in it for good with each other. They’ve got each other’s backs even if it means putting their own on the line and this story really proved that, but I really love that this was told in just Olivia’s point of view – I loved getting to know about her friends through her eyes and hearing what she thought about them and why she loved them.
“Jamie was my favorite person in town and friend number one. He’d always lived next door, but we didn’t officially meet until the first day of kindergarten, when he had been sporting an unfortunate shorn look. His mom had shaved his head to combat his obsessive hair twirling, a thing he did when he was nervous or sleepy. This had caused a huge problem at naptime, so I had scooted my mat close to him.
“You can twirl my hair,” I’d said.”
“Max was beautiful, in the same hard and brown way as a lot of boys in St. Francisville. He was the size of a man, but when you looked in his eyes, a boy looked back at you. When he was near me, he made it hard to breathe. And not in that he’s-so-dreamy-and-perfect way, but because he was the physical reminder of the last bad choice I made. He was the kind of boy you could make a lot of mistakes with. He was also magnificent and fearless. He loved me too much.”
“She was a singer, songwriter, and artist – a bewilderment of beings. No one matched the sheer velocity with which she approached life… Everyone needed a Maggie.”
Stanley created an interesting premise here, while not far-fetched, it is high on the drama and bad choices. Each of these kids seems to have something major going on in their lives, Jamie’s alcoholic and abusive father, Maggie’s deadbeat mom, Max’s own drinking problems… and you can see why once they have these bonds between them, they might not break so easily.
I think that at some points while the group was on the run there were times that I felt the pacing should have been a bit different… (There seemed to be an awful lot of time spent at Steven’s house for how little it impacted the story) but that in no way affected my final opinion. Stanley’s writing really was incredibly beautiful … I think I highlighted so many passages in my e-copy I can’t decide what to share with you all!
“If I’d had my way, Jamie could have gone to sleep somewhere in the corners of his mind, and I’d wear his body like a suit. I’d feel everything he wasn’t ready to and answer all the questions coming his way. He wouldn’t have to wake up until he was ready.”
This is in no way a light story to read… there is a lot of heavy as I noted above, and there will be some of you who may find yourself wiping away a few tears here and there, but underneath all the heavy, there are glimpses of hope and the idea that someday there can and will be happiness.
If you’re looking for an amazing story of friendship, filled with wonderfully descriptive and beautiful writing then look no further.
Thank you Cassie & Knopf books for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.