A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."-Booklist The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up. She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen. The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is. She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens. The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.
Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
I plowed right through this book, and when I wasn't being overly skeptical, I enjoyed my time with it. There were a few things that irked me, but overall I'd have to say this is a solid effort for Gurtler.
The entire story is told from Jess's point of view, and I found her a refreshing change from some of the more typical heroines of YA contemporary. She gets into some pretty big trouble at the beginning of the book, and her dad decides to teach her a lesson by making her volunteer at a homeless shelter for the summer. (Way to go, Dad! Seriously, it was a very fitting punishment.)
It was great to see Jess mature and become less judgmental and more open minded during her summer at the shelter. I was able to warm up to her and empathize with her situation. I especially enjoyed reading about her relationship with an older gentleman who frequents the shelter - great moments there! She learns the value of a hard day's work, and sees that not everybody has it as easy as she does, which is something I think a lot of today's generation doesn't get to see. That culture shock added many fun elements to the story as a whole.
Flynn, on the other hand? I'm not sure what to say about him. There were things I really liked about him (like his strong relationship with his little brother), but other things really turned me off (like the thing that happened at the end that I'm not going to divulge - hello, spoiler!). There's also a lot of jealousy and angst between him and Jess, which got a bit tiring at times.
So, some good things, some not so great things. As far as recommending this book, I'd say go for it! I think a lot of people will find something they like here, and the writing was solid. I'll definitely be giving Gurtler's work another try in the future.