Maybe I’m too late. Maybe Zoe’s dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I’ll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I’m any kind of example, but we can learn together.
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.
Maybe it’ll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it’ll take forever. I’ll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don’t always leave, don’t always give up on you. (Barnes and Noble)
Do me a favor and ignore anything you’ve seen or heard comparing this book to If I Stay or Bonnie and Clyde. It’s neither of those things. It is instead achy, sad, and full of hope that truly has nowhere it can realistically go for two protagonists who want–who need–to escape their lives in North Dakota to find something safe, something good.
Being raised by an abusive, alcoholic father us bad enough, but trying to hide the bruises glaring from your face is practically impossible. This is a daily reality for Zoe, and most people turn the other way and refuse to acknowledge what they know goes on in that house. That is, until Will.
Will has been transferred to a new group home and this has thrown him in the path of Zoe, an intriguing girl in his new high school. He’s had a painful, tormented life, bounced from foster home to foster home. As they get to know each other, Will knows he has to save Zoe from her father. He’s desperate to keep her from the nightmares he’s experienced in the system, so he convinces Zoe to run away with him.This is problematic for many reasons. First, Will is eighteen but Zoe is only fifteen. In order to remove her from her home and get them to a safe, new town, Will does some questionable things. And then there’s his past. He struggles with anger, he’s been in trouble before, and in all honesty, despite his good intentions, he’s just a kid with a bad reputation.
The journey these two take is one we know can’t end happily, but I wanted them to get away with it all. I loved Will, despite his issues, for the raw, honest way he loved Zoe and for this primal need he had to protect her, as if he could someone right the wrongs in both their lives if he could make things turn out better for her. Zoe, on the other hand, is all wide-eyed innocence. She doesn’t fully grasp the repercussions of the things they do until later in the book. When she finally sees how dramatically their choices can and will impact Will, she matures a bit. Their relationship is complicated because as Will struggles with his anger, Zoe has to ask herself honest questions about whether she’s choosing a man like her father, and Will has to wonder if her’s truly good for her. Those moments are crushing, and the story itself, though laced with many tender moments, just hurts.
I loved that Halbrook write this from the alternating perspectives of Will and Zoe. It made their emotions more real, their fears more vivid. If I have any complaint, it is only that I didn’t like Will’s grammar. Sounds like a stupid thing, I know, but he says “ain’t” an awful lot. He seemed to be of average intelligence, so I never saw the connection between life in foster care and his bad grammar. Otherwise, I thought this was a good, intense story.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 I liked this book. There seem to be many mixed reviews out there, and while I understand some of the comparisons made to other books and stories. I see the connection people are trying to make, but this is still a story unto itself. Go in with an open mind and you may be surprised.
Thank you to Harper Teen for sending me a review copy of this book!