Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"I'll Meet You There": A Tender Love Story

" . . . if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant that everything had potential.  And maybe people were like collages - no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole.  We mattered." 

Love matters.

It's getting closer to Valentine's Day, and although many people aren't all about it, I must admit that I am sucker for a good romance.  Maybe because my husband and I were high school sweethearts, I especially love to read YA books that are both realistic and romantic.  Heather Demetrios' 7th novel "I'll Meet You There" was a tender, coming of age love story that revolved around two broken teenagers growing up in the dead end fictional town of Creek View, California.

The alternating voices in this novel come from Skylar Evans (17) and Josh Mitchell (19).  Both of these characters share the common denominator of their job at The Paradise Hotel, one of only a few businesses in Creek View (others include a gas station and Taco Bell).  Skylar can't wait to escape the stereotypical fate of every girl in Creek View - pregnant by age 19 with a part time job at Taco Bell.  She just needs survive one final summer before she can go to SFU on scholarship.  Unfortunately, her mom loses her job and falls into a deep depression and delves into her alcoholic ways again. Skylar can see her dreams of leaving falling away with each drop her mother drinks.

Josh, a womanizer and party guy, has just returned from a tour in Afghanistan where he served as a Marine.  When Skylar first sees him at a party, she realizes that he hasn't just changed physically because his leg was blown off while in Afghanistan, but something seems different, maybe even softer about his overall persona.

With their broken families, broken dreams, and futures uncertain, this unlikely pair bonds together in a friendship that ultimately becomes something neither of them are completely prepared to experience. But what they do encounter together is often heart wrenching, honest and head swooning, awwww inducing love.

Although there are almost too many twists at the end of this book, the love story itself is enough to make the high praise that this book has received understandable.  Both Sklyar and Josh are beautifully crafted characters that don't want to succumb to the fates of other Creek View-lings and both of them feel like they will be stuck there forever even if they don't belong there.  Even if they have tried to leave.  Because of their circumstances and their seemingly insurmountable differences (Skylar is a scholar and an artist who has remained chaste and innocent in a town that does not encourage that, and Josh is a womanizer who has slept with most of the town and seems destined to fall into the same routines he established before he enlisted in the Marines), their surprising romance feels breathless and right.  Skylar recognizes their similarities after she tries to push Josh away.  She thinks, "It occurred to me that we were the same, in a way.  Both of us treading water, pushing against forces we couldn't control." They are drawn to the brokenness of each other and through their relationship they both begin to heal their past and present scars.

Reading young love that feels real is a beautiful thing.  It's complicated and it hurts to read when they make big errors in judgment as they navigate the tricky path to each other, but the end result in Skylar and Josh's story is worth the read.  If you are looking for a touching embrace of a love story as Valentine's Day draws closer, this one might be the one.

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