Every book I’ve ever read by Colleen Hoover has left me feeling conflicted, but that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I got a BookBub alert that this one was free on Kindle, so I snapped it up and actually ended up starting it that same day. It’s a quick read with an immersive plot, just like I’ve come to expect from Hoover. I was surprised at how little drama this book had compared to books of hers that I’d previously read… until I got about 80% in, because that’s where it all is.
The basics, to start:
Sky meets Holder at the grocery store one day. He’s the first boy she’s ever been attracted to in her entire life, but he acts really strange around her and she figures that, of course, he’d be the one boy on the planet not banging her door down to get with her. But then they run into each other a few more times, and she realizes that he’s sweet and he does like her, he’s just weird about showing it.
It’s not long before Sky and Holder become close, but Holder’s erratic moods make their relationship (if you could even call it that) rocky. When you add in a traumatic past, huge hidden secrets, and teenage hormones, you’ve got a recipe for some over-the-top drama.
There are spoilers under the cut.
Now, things I liked:
1. Sky’s new friend at school, Breckin, is honestly the best character in the book. He’s present for all of probably thirty or so pages, but he’s the most likeable character in the entire book. He’s funny, he and Sky have a great connection, and even though it feels like he’s just there so the book doesn’t solely focus on Sky and Holder, he was a great addition. (I probably would have preferred a book about Breckin over what I got in this book.)
2. There might have been some serious instalove here (even if the characters don’t refer to it that way), but I could definitely feel the connection between Sky and Holder.
3. Hoover’s writing, as always, drew me in. In any of her books that I’ve ever read, I want to keep going even when I hate what’s going on.
Things I disliked (spoilers ahead):
1. All the slut shaming. It’s in every Hoover book I’ve read so far, and it’s so frustrating. Our MC is ~super edgy~ because she sneaks boys into her room to make out. Just make out, nothing more, she wants us to know. Because she’d be a slut if she did anything more, and what kind of MC would she be then? Her and her BFF also lovingly refer to each other as “slut” or “whore” and I have never understood why that’s a thing.
2. Holder’s mood swings. Sky starts off on the right foot with this. She’s creeped out. She’s disturbed. She thinks he’s super hot, but she wants nothing to do with him. But then he smiles and she throws caution to the wind, putting up with a guy who constantly throws temper tantrums, goes weeks at a time without talking to her, punches the hoods of random cars when he gets upset, and practically stalks her until she falls in love with him.
3. The entire last quarter was completely over the top. Let’s wrap up everything that happens to the MC’s in this book, because this is what took my rating down to two stars:
**serious spoilers ahead**
– Sky’s mother dies when Sky is very young.
– Her father repeatedly rapes her as a small child.
– She’s kidnapped and told that her father gave her up.
– Holder witnessed the kidnapping and still blames himself for it, even though he too was a small child at the time and DID tell an adult, and it’s not his fault that the adult didn’t listen.
– Holder’s twin sister (Lesslie) commits suicide, and he feels guilty over this too.
– Surprise! Holder and Lesslie were best friends with Sky when she was little. Also, Sky’s father raped Lesslie, too.
– Sky’s “adoptive” mother is actually her biological aunt, who was ALSO repeatedly raped by Sky’s father as a teenager.
– When Sky confronts her father, he shoots himself in the head in front of her.
I mean, this is just too much. At some point, I just started rolling my eyes as another and another and ANOTHER dramatic twist came one right after the other.
4. The sexual abuse is not handled well at all. Sky has repressed it. I get that. It was really traumatic for her, and as a young child, she didn’t really understand what was happening, only that she didn’t like it and it made her sad. That’s all fine. But the idea that Sky can go from completely shutting herself down emotionally when she’s in any sort of physical relationship with a boy – I’m talking not even kissing someone without zoning out – to falling all over Holder, having orgasms out of nowhere, begging him to have sex with her just after she’s uncovered her repressed memories… I just can’t buy it.
5. Why does nobody in this book suggest therapy? Sky has had an incredibly traumatic life. I mean, see the list above. It’s crazy. But Sky just talks to Holder, takes a shower, has some sex, and she’s magically ok? No, she needs professional help. This is insane.
I wanted to like this book. And while I was reading it, at some points, I actually did. But in general, I can’t put up with all of this. There’s too much going on to actually do any of it well. When you have me literally rolling my eyes at the plot twists, you’ve gone too far. And that’s what this book did. It went too far.
Final rating: ★★☆☆☆