Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
I love Sarah Dessen's novel and I have been waiting a long long time to get my hands on this. I don't know if as a result of all that waiting my expectations got set too high but I must admit I found myself wanting so much more from this book.
Don't get me wrong there were things I enjoyed about the story. I liked the main character and I loved Mac and his sister but I did feel like something was missing.
Firstly I wanted so much more time with the friendship group that developed over the course of this book. I loved them as a unit and enjoyed seeing how those friendships developed over the course of the book but I felt like I didn't see as much as I wanted of that.
This book clearly has the message that older men in their early 20s should not be hanging around with teenage girls and if they are then they are creepy perverts. There is a creepy character who is friends with the main character's brother and he is very very creepy indeed to the point where every scene with him in was unsettling. However I felt this was a bi over the top. Not every bloke who is a bit older is a perverted creep. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying teenage girls should actively hunt down older men to date but I felt that this book didn't them a bit of an injustice making them all out to be perverted sex pests in the making.
I did take real issue with the mother in this book because I thought she was a complete bitch, one who pretended to have that holier than though perfect existence and was blind to how life really was. I actually couldn't stand her and she pretty much ruined any scene she was in for me.
So all in all if you were planning of reading a Sarah Dessen for the first time I wouldn't recommend you started here.