Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Title: I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

My life is very different from Skylar’s, but we have at least two things in common: our love for dancing and paper crafting. When I went to college I used to dance. Not professionally, it was just a hobby, but for several years dancing was a big part of my life. So I relate to Skylar in this. There was a wonderful scene in the beginning of the book where Skylar went to a salsa club with her friend Chris. I can notch up a star just for this scene. The author so well captured Skylar’s emotions on the dance floor. This rush, energy, lightness, this freedom, when you don’t need to think, you can get lost in the music. When it’s just you and your partner, your hand in his and you just need to follow his lead.

"For a while, I just let the music have its way with me. The beats soaked into my skin and filled me up. I tilted my head back and laughed into the rainbow-colored lights, my body slick with sweat."

I know many readers probably won’t give this scene a second thought, but because of my personal experience it tugged at my heartstrings and made me nostalgic. I remember when I had an awful day or a bad week I would go to club and dance. Like Skylar said: “I just wanted to dance it all away”, and it actually went away. All bad staff evaporated when I was on the dance floor.

"When I was out there dancing, it was like anything was possible."

The second thing that resonated with me was Skylar’s love for paper crafting. I love everything paper related: collages, scrapbooking, projects with my kids. I’m familiar with this special state of mind when the world fell away and it’s just me and my project.

"As I worked… my world whittled down to the feel of the paper under my fingers"

I relate to Skylar’s need to express her emotions and life events in paper and just let it all go.

"I needed to collage, get my hands dirty with glue and scissors and paper that melted under my skin. I’d take all our bills and receipts and tear them up into tiny pieces. Then I’d turn the pieces into a kite, flying up into the sky. Or I could collage a cheeseburger with a thick, creamy shake. Maybe a train, heading out of Creek View."

I'll Meet You There is mostly Skylar’s story and is written from her perspective, but there are short chapters told from Josh POV between Skylar’s chapters. I really liked them.

I loved romance in this book. It was beautiful and slow, moving initially to friendship. While at first I thought there wasn’t a lot of chemistry between them, later there were a couple of absolutely swoony scenes. I found both Sky and Josh so real. Josh, cocky player in high school, had lost in Afghanistan not only his friends and his leg, but part of himself. He is lost and angry and alone in his guilt. Skylar desperately wants to leave her hometown behind. Suddenly her well planned future is not so sure and she is lost too. But together they will find their way to the happiness.

"I had to tell him we were like a collage. Pieces that could be put back together in a new way, a better way."

There is also a great cast of secondary characters in this book. I loved friendship between Chris, Dylan and Skylar. And of course there was Marge.

However several things bugged me. Characters used words w*tback, f*ggot and made offensive statements. It was always a joke, or a character was drunk and later apologized, but it bothered me.

The other aspect of the book that grated on my nerves was Skylar’s relationship with her mother. This woman made awful things and treated Skylar badly. In the end all their issues were quickly and conveniently resolved. And there was also Skylar’s aunt; this plot line was just dropped. I didn’t buy it. In my opinion this book could make all its points without this whole situation with the mother. Skylar and Josh had a lot on their plate as it was: Josh’s PTSD, disability, and unclear future; Skylar’s poverty, her graduation and plans to leave her hometown and friends behind. There were a lot to work with and Skylar’s mother only added unnecessary drama; this made my experience of reading, I don’t know, cheaper.

Another topic that the author addressed in this book is poverty. At first sight it takes the back seat to Josh’s PTSD and Skylar’s situation with her mother, but it always there in details and small moments. It’s like a background to the whole picture. Heather Demetrios made great job here and deals with this topic authentically and in not in your face way.

“I wanted to tell her that poverty wasn’t catching”

I'll Meet You There is a solid YA which tackles several important topics. Despite some flaws I think it’s a great story and I recommend it.