I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on May 1st 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Buy the Book •
Summer on the New Jersey shore offers Quinn a new start at life and love, but only if she can come to terms with her past
Graduation can't come soon enough. Desperate for a fresh start, Quinn is eager to escape to her aunt's house on the New Jersey shore for the summer…away from teenage drama and having to answer everyone's questions about "what comes next" after high school.
Quinn can't bear to focus on the future. She doesn't even think she deserves one—not after her best friend died in a car accident that Quinn feels responsible for. But when Quinn meets Malcolm, a musician who has been trying to escape his own demons, she starts to believe in second chances.
August and Everything After was a book I was dying to read with a promise of angst, drama, and romance. On the outside, it’s a story about a girl who has graduated high school and is unsure about what comes next in life. A concept that really resonated with me on a personal level. Spending the summer living with her aunt on the Jersey shore, Quinn is hoping for the inspiration she needs and finds herself in a whirlwind romance with a musician named Malcolm. Once you delve further inside the story you also find one about grief, guilt, and the struggle to move on.
While the romance plays a huge part in this story, I don’t consider this a romance novel at all but a coming of age novel where a romance acts as a stepping stone for the characters. Quinn has never fully come to terms with the grief and guilt she feels over her best friend’s death years ago. It holds her back on many levels and it’s hard for her to move on from those feelings. While working at one of her summer jobs she meets Malcolm, a musician who also recently suffered a great loss in an accident – his bandmates, his friends. They easily come together because of their shared grief and also their love for music as Quinn is a burgeoning drummer. Malcolm’s music speaks to Quinn so personally and she helps him start a new band and build the sound of his new songs. They are quick to fall into this whirlwind summer relationship but it turns out to be very complicated.
Malcolm is the sort of character who is so imperfect but worth rooting for. He is complex and not at all mentally ready for a relationship since he is newly in recovery from a drug addiction, and I think as soon as I found that out I just knew this was about to get messy. Quinn developed this strong need to save and protect him that seemed to stem not only from her deep compassion but also her feelings from her friend’s death. Despite an obvious connection and their best intentions, it’s a very unhealthy relationship right from the get-go. Mistakes are made and feeling are hurt. But I truly adored each of these characters despite all of that and wanted only the best for them.
As we explore Quinn’s anguish over losing her friend even all these years later, my heart truly broke for her. Despite entering a complicated relationship and me disagreeing with some of her thoughts and actions, I found the path she took was exactly what worked best for her in the end. She learned so much about herself and what she wanted and needed in her life. I love seeing a character grow so much in strength and self resolve. Her aunt is a huge player in the story who is a wonderful support system. I adored all their little moments together. A few additional side characters and new friends were also a delight.
So while I found the romance to be important, the story is so much for than that. It’s quite real and raw with an ending that felt bittersweet. I’m so glad I gave this one a chance!