I got this one on Net Galley (thanks Harlequin Teen!) and I normally wouldn’t have picked this one out to read. I have read so many fantastic reviews for this novel in the past few months though that I decided why not? I haven’t been in the mood for any intense contemporary fiction. Summers tend to be more on the fluffy side for me. And while the description for this one hinted at the majority of the plot being romance, I knew going in that stuff would be tough in this one. I was right, but I am so glad I read all those reviews because I seriously ended up loving this.
Echo goes from being most popular to most talked about behind her back all in one night. She comes back to school only wearing long sleeve shirts, having nothing to do with her now ex-boyfriend, and avoiding the cafeteria, the dance team, and even the art room. There’s rumors that she cut herself, and that she went crazy that one night she can’t remember. She literally can’t remember how she got the scars on her arms. She knows it has something to do with her bipolar mother. But every time she comes close to maintaining any memories of that night (in therapy sessions) she breaks down and ends up spending more time in the hospital.
That’s not even all of the messed up craziness that is Echo’s life at the start of the book. For starters, there’s a restraining order put out against her bipolar mother and Echo doesn’t even know why. Her dad has married the girl who used to babysit her, and now their unborn child seems to take all precedence over Echo. And her dad was definitely interested in the babysitter while still together with Echo’s mom. Echo’s big brother recently passed away on duty for the marines. She idolized and loved her brother like no one else and is really feeling like the one person who could help her is gone. She has friends at school who tell her they can only be her friends when not in public. Her father has forbidden her from taking art classes. And as tests and college acceptances are in full swing, Echo has no idea what she wants any more, besides escaping her home and figuring out what happened.
Then Noah comes in. Echo is assigned to tutor Noah. He’s known for being a player, always with a different girl on his arm. He’s also known as being a stoner, a foster kid, and has the ultimate “bad boy” image. He’s not stupid; he’s just not really motivated at school when he has so much else on his mind, and when he’s so angry. His parents died several years ago in a house fire. He and his two younger brothers got out, but his parents didn’t. The boys were separated in foster care. And when an abusive foster-father goes after Noah, Noah punches him back and builds a really terrible reputation. It doesn’t matter that the guy deserved it; no one wants to take Noah in and the family that has his brothers refuses to let Noah near him.
Noah and Echo work with the same counselor at school. The counselor really tries to dissuade Noah from taking legal action and trying to adopt his brothers, which he can do when he turns 18. He refuses to believe that his brothers are safe, when he really never has been safe since his parents died. His best friends have had it rough too, and he hangs out with people who can relate to him, all teens who have been screwed up in a system that really doesn’t like to give second chances.
So, it’s weird for both ex-popular Echo, and bad boy, Noah when they click as well as they do. They have “normal” tutoring sessions, work on Echo’s dead brother’s car together, and eventually grow into having a meaningful relationship and friendship where they can both share their lives with each other. They also eventually work together to try to get a hold of the counselor’s files on them.
Echo really wants to know what she can’t remember. But everyone refuses to tell her what happened and that she needs to remember on her own. And Noah needs to know the full names and address of the family that has his brothers, so he can make damn sure that his family is safe. Both characters have dealt with loss. Both have terrible scars from their experiences and both need to get into those files!
This book has parties, sizzling romance scenes, terrifying nightmares, therapy sessions, parental abuse, rumors, bullying, school dances, break-ins, memory loss and gain, and just so much growing. Echo needs to learn that just because her mom is crazy, doesn’t necessarily mean that she is too. And Noah needs to learn that it is okay to just be a kid once and a while, and that his dreams are important too. Both of these characters grow up so much in these pages.
I loved watching Echo get her memories back! That alone made this book so interesting! It was like the first season of Dexter, when you finally get to see what he’s forgotten about his childhood –the reason he became a killer. What happened to Echo was horrible and so is what happened to Noah –in different ways. I loved their chemistry and how they learned from each other.
There were two things though did kind of bother me. One being all the “baby” talk. Not all couples have to refer to each other as babe or baby. Echo is definitely not the kind of girl to call anyone that! She regrets an actual baby for most of the novel. And Noah, really couldn’t just call her Echo all the time? Really? And two, I just can’t believe that years could have gone by without anyone telling Echo what happened! There were moments when it seemed like the whole world knew, but her. Random art people knew! I can definitely see the ex-babysitter/stepmom spilling the beans to win back some kind of respect from Echo. Maybe if the book made it seem like a matter of months, as compared to years, this would have been more believable. I can see Echo not remembering for years, but I just can’t see that many people not telling her for that long.
Overall though, I loved it. The awful teenagers in her school made it so dramatic and wonderful! The romance was probably my favorite teen romance of the year so far. And the suspense and not knowing what happened to Echo was just too good. I read it really fast because I had to know! I give this one a 9/10. And I will definitely be keeping my eye on this debut author!