(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Also by this author: 9 Days and 9 Nights
Published by Harper Collins on April 21st 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Friendship, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
From the acclaimed author of How to Love comes another stunning contemporary novel, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen.Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly's heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. Now I'm serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done.Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn't finished. I'm expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it's just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. "For what it's worth, Molly Barlow," he says, "I'm really glad you're back."Day 12: Gabe wouldn't quit till he got me to come to this party, and I'm surprised to find I'm actually having fun. I think he's about to kiss me—and that's when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who's supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who's never going to forgive me.
Molly Barlow lives in the small town of Star Lake… she’s grown up with the Donnelly family, but one year ago she abruptly left to get away from the dirty looks, the people she used to call friends, and the gossip. Her mom did the unthinkable and took a secret she shared with her and turned it into a best-selling novel… The thing is, everyone was able to tell that story wasn’t all fiction… they knew it was about her.
I’m going to try to do this without spoiling anything so consider this your fair warning.
From the very beginning I found myself connecting with Molly… Not in the way that I could understand what she did, instead I could sympathize for her situation. I understood her feelings of betrayal, her sadness over the loss of her friends and ‘family’ and her heartbreak over losing the guy her life revolved around.
I think what Katie Cotugno does amazingly well is create real, flawed and layered characters…. She did it in How To Love, and she does it again here. Each one is crafted with such care and while you may not like the person she’s created, their actions and reactions feel completely real to me.
I’ll say it right now, Molly makes some really stupid choices in this story… but they aren’t off base. She’s only 18, she’s just finding her way in life, trying to figure out who she wants to be and what she wants to do and those stupid choices… they make sense. Believe me… I remember making ones just as stupid, and I don’t have the excuse of being young under my belt!
The relationships between the characters in this story were also really well done. When Molly left Star Lake, she also ditched out on her best friend… a friend who she didn’t contact for a full year, and when she returned she expected to just jump right back into that role with Imogen but things have changed and I wanted to dislike Imogen for how she was treating Molly, but I couldn’t and when Imogen finally tells her what it was like for her when she disappeared, I got it. What I really loved though, was that these two were able to move past it and rebuild that friendship and despite the things that Molly does wrong she’s able to accept her and advise her and be there for her when things crumble down.
Because they absolutely do crumble down.
Molly is in no way a saint or innocent in all of this, and yet Cotugno really builds on how people as a society tend to automatically think… blame the girl.
That was horribly frustrating to read because it’s sad that that’s what it comes down to. Gabe took barely any backlash from friends and family for what happened between him and Molly and yet she’s the one who gets tormented and teased and harassed. It’s a sad, yet accurate portrayal of typical reactions when this happens.
And the relationship between these boys. Patrick and Gabe seem to not have any love lost between them which is sad since they are brothers. But it was hard for me to tell if their issues stemmed from their feelings for Molly or if there was a larger issue at play here. Either way, it was really heartbreaking.
As far as the romance-y stuff. I have to say that I was really cheering for Gabe and Molly from the very beginning and that only got stronger as I continued to read. I have my reasons for this, and I know when you read you’ll see why. Gabe is super sweet and just wonderful with Molly (even though I don’t totally agree with something he admits to in the end) and even though there are all these reasons why they shouldn’t be together he isn’t shy about what he wants, but he never truly pressures her or pushes her into any decisions.
This book will go on my favorites shelf, right next to my copies of How To Love, once it’s released. Katie Cotugno is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors for smart, complicated, stories that will challenge your feelings about tough topics and make you look at the whole picture dispite any preconceived feelings you might have about it.
Thank you to Balzer & Bray and Edelweiss for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest thoughts!