I received this book for free from Bought in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
I picked up a copy of I’ll Meet You There after reading countless and countless amazing reviews on the book. And you know what? They were all right! This book grabbed a hold of my heart and didn’t let go, even after I finished the last words.
I’m going to start by talking about the setting in which this story takes place – a small town with limited employment and educational options and lower income living. A town which left our main character, Skylar, feeling suffocated, anxious to break free of. I had a strong connection to this. I knew that town. I knew those people. The people and parties and recklessness, it wasn’t far off from what I knew at that age as well. It felt so utterly real and accurate, flaws and all. This is the sort of life Skylar cannot wait to run away from to start college to pursue art. And the very town Josh finds himself back in after an accident in Afghanistan caused him to lose a leg.
Skylar and Josh had a push and pull relationship. Only acquaintances before the summer our story takes place, both instantly felt a connection to each other in their reunion but feared pursuing it. Skylar is a level-headed, smart girl who has a talent for art and collaging. The way she’d talk about it with such passion and conviction was awe-inspiring. She was so desperate to leave the town behind and didn’t want to suddenly find herself wavering on her decision (though her mother was no help in that department). Josh is dealing with some serious repercussions from his life as a Marine. The loss of a limb and a friend is devastating to him and broke my heart. We get a good glimpse into how this affected him with sections of the book from his perspective where he was writing in a journal to the friend he lost. So powerful and moving. Because of what he had gone through, he was afraid he was too messed up from the war to be with Skylar. This caused some angsty sexual tension between the two. Watching them drift together like a moth to the flame, yet push each other apart to avoid getting burned was agonizing in the best of ways. It’s a bumpy road paved with mistakes and a little trial and error, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The realness of the characters – a friend with a baby, underage drinking – this is a pretty dead on description of the late high school and immediately after that I knew. I applaud the author for not sugarcoating another side to this age that isn’t always explored, mistakes and all. I know I connected with it and I’m sure many others will as well.
The love I have for I’ll Meet You There knows no bounds. There were so many branches of the story to explore that helped shape the romance that made it so special to me. I felt privileged to be a part of Josh and Skylar’s journey to accepting who they were and what they wanted in themselves and each other. A new all-time favorite read that I recommend everyone should give a chance!
I don’t really know what it means to move on, but lately, with Sky, I’m starting to feel like I want to because when I look at her, I don’t see you or the war or any of the shit in my head. I just see her, and it’s like suddenly I can breathe again after holding my breath for so long.