I used to buy every New Adult novel to come out on the shelves but I quickly lost interest. There were a variety of reasons. I didn't agree with a lot of elements pushed in that genre. A lot of the stories read the same to me. There was too much focus on writing sex.
This is first New Adult book I've loved in a long time.
I've read Colleen Hoover's earlier books but I haven't picked up a new one from her in a while. Then this book came out and there was just such an outpouring of 'must-read-this' persistence in the book world that I had to do it. I knew it was going to be a heavy read based on reviews so it wasn't something I wanted to squeeze in between work and my house chores. I planned to read it on my Christmas break and I avoided spoiler reviews to make sure I go into it with an open mind.
This isn't a simple love story. Yes, love is in the book. In fact, you will meet several different people who will show you that there is no simple, straightforward way to love.
But romance is not the core message of the book. It's so much more.
This book is what NA should really be—a discovery of one's self as life and the world and the people in it make themselves known to you in full measure, and the evolution that must follow after it.
Lily lived through a lot in this story, and not just in the past. Even in the end, you knew there was still so much she would have to live through but you were reassured that she had the strength to carry herself forward. Some of it was strength the past had taught her to have, and the rest of it was strength from what she had to learn for herself in the present. I was proud of her when the story was done. She wouldn't be your kick-ass I'm-going-to-win-over-the-world kind of heroine but she's one that many of us can relate to. One who dreamed and hoped for the best and marshalled through the worst.
She wasn't just one main thing. There were so many layers and dimensions to her. She was naive but honest, sweet and funny but also fiercely protective and realistic when she had to be. She had compassion and understanding even in circumstances when no one would fault her for not feeling either. She didn't have the answer to everything a lot of times and I didn't think less of her because of that because isn't that us most of the time in real life? I love how Hoover was able to really sink us into Lily's psyche so much that we were spared none of everything she went through—the good, the bad, the ugly.
I won't spoil this book for anyone but I'll agree with everyone else out there who is telling you to read this. There's a lot to learn from this book. If anything, it'll let you see the grays that fill many pictures—the kind we don't see unless we're in one of them. Because as I strive to show in my own writing, there is not a lot of black and white. It's easy to speak to a black and white scenario—to categorize your answers and would-be-actions in two columns without being confused or torn. No matter the similarities, every situation is different and the people who are in the heart of it are different. Which is why there is no one-size-fits-all rule for loving someone.
I hope you give this book a try. And I hope you tell others to do the same because it's a story that more people need to read and learn from.
*image from Goodreads