My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Alexis Bass’s heartbreakingly beautiful second novel is a tale of love, loss, and learning to forgive, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and of Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything.
A year and a half ago, Amanda Tart’s brother got behind the wheel drunk and killed his best friend. Today, he’s coming home from prison.
Amanda’s been the one living with the fallout, made worse by her brother’s recent unapologetic TV interview. People think he’s a monster. Still, she loves him. It’s her dark secret, until she starts getting close to Henry again–whose sister is paralyzed from the accident.
A year and a half ago, her brother destroyed his life. Now Amanda has to decide if she’ll let his choice destroy hers.
Beware spoilers ahead!
When I first heard about this book I was very excited! I had read the author’s previous book Love and other theories and I enjoyed it. I loved the authors writing style and I was positive that she would write a beautiful novel. Then one day I went through some reviews. Just like her previous book there were a lot of unappealing reviews. I was really surprised of some of the things that reviewers said about this book. I was really hoping it would be awesome. After some thought I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I would enjoy it just like I did Love and other theories. Unfortunately I was wrong.
The book begins with Jonathan Tart at a live interview. Two months after he was drunk behind the wheel and got in a car accident. In the beginning of the interview he seemed nice and possibly guilty. As the progresses Jonathan starts throwing attitude and it ends with him laughing hysterically after the interviewer asked him if he was guilty about what happened.
We are then taken to present day with Amanda. In a few hours her brother will be coming home. While she is excited, she’s also scared. For all she knows he’s changed for the worse. After the accident her family have had a hard time coping. She now wears make-up regularly and refuses to cry in front of people. Under the assumption that said people would assume that her tears were for Jonathan and not Grace (the girl that died in the car accident). She doesn’t dare tell people that she is secretly happy that Jonathan’s sentence was shortened to a year because Grace’s parents didn’t press charges. Apparently the road was wet and there was a sign missing.
Amanda’s boyfriend has been a good helper. He comforts her and whenever a conversation of her brother comes up he changes the subject and stares Amanda away. Her best friend Dawn has also been a great help.
On her way to some class she sees Henry Crane. Her former love and the sister of Sutton who was Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend and in the car when the accident occurred. He passes her a note that says to meet him at the end of the day. They meet and Henry asks whether Amanda would tell him if Sutton and Jonathan are talking. After a bit of a argument she agrees.
She goes with her parents to pick up Jonathan. They bring him home and she doesn’t see him as a murderer or a pyscho, he’s just her brother. For some time he seems alright. But then he starts hanging out with this girl from Starbucks. Wren (Starbucks girl) loves him. She is practically obsessed with him.
Amanda does ask her brother whether he has been in contact with Sutton to which he replies no. During a party Henry drunk and angry confronts Amanda about their little deal. She explains him that Jonathan said he hadn’t been in contact with Sutton to which he angrily yells that her brother is a liar and that Amanda doesn’t see him for what he really is. His girlfriend drags him out of the room.
The next day Henry decides to sit next to Amanda in class. Their teacher assigns them a group project and Henry offers to be her partner. She wants nothing to do with him (rightfully so) but then he points out that no one else will partner with her. Apparently this is his weird way of trying to make it up to her. Thus starts their relationship.
Meanwhile Jonathan is refusing to do the required community service and being a real jerk about it. When Amanda points this out her mother stares at her like she said something stupid. When she was actually speaking the truth.
I am going to stop right there and explain all of you why I couldn’t finish it. There was too much drama. And I know that’s ridiculous, but I’m not kidding you when I tell you that Amanda gets no break from anything. I have read a book about drinking and driving (Saint Anything) and I feel that book did a much better job. I’ve noticed that the authors books have more drama then necessary.
I seriously did not like Henry. He was insensitive and rude. It was really rude that he made that stupid deal with Amanda. Both Sutton and Jonathan are liars, yet he asked Amanda to ask her brother, and he didn’t bother to ask his sister. And I know that he was drunk when he confronted her but sorry doesn’t cut it. Nor does offering to work with her on a project. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have forgiven him, I’m saying that he should’ve a little more to make up for it. Maybe he did and I didn’t read it. I’m not even sure what Amanda saw in him.
Jonathan was awful! He seemed really nice in the beginning but he clearly did not care about what happened nor did he care for the requirements of his probation. He was exactly like what the reviewers mentioned him to be.
Note there is also cheating in this book. Henry and Amanda cheat on their partners to be with each other. I’m not sure how this transcends because I didn’t stick it out for long, but I can tell you they kiss early on in the book.
I’m not sure whether Amanda was portrayed realistically. She never saw her brother as this awful person who killed one of his best friends and hospitalized his other friends. She simply saw him as her brother and nothing more. I’m not sure if this was realistic.
I actually liked Amanda, Dawn, and the writing style. I really felt bad for Amanda because it really sucked what she was going through. She also seemed to have some common sense in her family. She was the only one. Dawn was a good friend and was there for Amanda! It was nice to read about their texts and phone calls.
Overall I did not enjoy this. I will commend the author for writing this book. Everything I have mentioned is real. So there was some realism to it. I would recommend this to fans of the author and lot’s of drama. I would also recommend reading Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.