Also in this series: Walk the Edge
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My content rating: YA (Main characters don't go beyond third base - what they do is shown, but not explicit)
An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.
I don’t know what I expected Nowhere But Here to be exactly, but I do know that it completely exceeded my expectations. This is really the first book I’ve read with the motorcycle club trope, and I didn’t love everything about the club itself, but there were some things that I definitely did love. But, more than that, McGarry had me hooked with this story! I had no idea how many surprises were going to be thrown at me – and I loved them all!!
What I loved:
- Emily and Oz. Emily and Oz seem like an unlikely pair. In fact, they don’t even really think that they like each other at all – though they realize that they’re attracted to each other. But, unlike some books where the guy is actually a jerk and the girl really shouldn’t like him, in this case, Emily and Oz’s denials were really based on preconceived notions of each other. Oz doesn’t like Emily because he thinks that her presence is hurting people he loves (mostly Emily’s grandmother) and he wants to protect those people. He sees Emily as judgmental (which she can be sometimes) and doesn’t want to look past that. Emily, on the other hand, has been raised to believe that the people in the motorcycle club are dangerous, so she’s leery of all of them. Add to that the fact that Oz obviously doesn’t want her around at the beginning and it’s easy to see why she’s not his biggest fan. But I LOVED that this was a slow-burn kind of love story> Emily and Oz had to learn about each other and get to know each other before they could move past their preconceived notions. They’re relationship wasn’t built on attraction alone (though that was a BIG part of it – which, if you see my negatives, you’ll think I’m contradicting myself, but read it, and you’ll see what I mean). These characters needed to grow in some ways before they could truly be togetherr, but the transformation wasn’t one-sided. It wasn’t that Emily just needed to become more open-minded about the club, but also that Oz needed to see outside of his small view of the world and realize that life outside the club existed as well. Anyway, overall I adored Emily and Oz together and the progression of their romance!
- Sex (or lack thereof). Finally a YA book that addresses sex without having the main characters fall into bed with each other the minute they get together! Emily gains some real wisdom from Violet, one of the club girls. Violet tells her that it’s okay to be the kind of girl who sleeps with boys (thus kind of addressing the whole slut shaming issue), but it’s ALSO okay to be the type of girl who doesn’t – that the main thing is that you have to figure out what type of person you are and stay true to yourself. Emily takes that message to heart and chooses not to have sex – and Oz respects that. BUT that doesn’t mean that there aren’t steamy scenes in this book! I love that the message is given that full-on sex is not the only way to satisfy raging hormones and that you can choose to go only so far (and still be happy!). I assume, from the trajectory of Emily and Oz’s relationship, that they will at some point in the distant future have sex, but they wait and it doesn’t happen within the timeframe of the book. This was so refreshing to see!
- Family. This book really highlighted what it means to be family in so many ways. First off, there’s Emily’s family situation. She has an adoptive father who she considers to be her true dad. He raised her and she is fiercely loyal to him, not wanting him to feel in any way overshadowed by her biological father. But her dad realizes that Emily needs to put together some of the puzzle pieces of her biological family and her past in order to move forward with her life in positive ways and he encourages her to get to know her biological father and his family. Emily’s relationship with these people is tenuous at best – she doesn’t understand her biological father in a lot of ways and she fears their way of life – but she slowly realizes that she has bonds with them that are important. Then there’s the club, which, in many ways, is stronger than biological family. One of the basic tenets of the club is that they take care of each other – that they are loyal to each other above all else. Finally, there is another side to Emily’s biological family that you discover late in the book (which I won’t go into obviously), which makes it obvious that blood doesn’t automatically make someone family. Family is explored in so many different ways in this book – I LOVED that!
- Twists and turns. You know from the beginning that there are definitely some mysteries when it comes to Emily’s family, but I still found myself shocked every time something new was revealed. McGarry managed to somehow perfectly balance giving clues so that you felt like you were learning things about Emily’s past and you didn’t get frustrated with the mysteries without giving away details that made the reveals lose their impact!
- Women in the club. The one and only thing about this book that I wasn’t crazy about was the way that women were viewed in the motorcycle club. It’s kind of a tricky issue because some of the club’s views could be viewed as misogynistic – women aren’t allowed in the actual club and have no say in club business, and the club itself has bras hung all over the walls and strippers are seen as pretty normal. I had a hard time being on board with all of that. At one point Oz calls Emily out for judging them for all of this – and I have to confess that I was kind of judging them too. I get that this is their lifestyle and we shouldn’t judge others for the way that they live (the women there were mostly pretty happy with the situation and Emily did come to understand that they were respected – just in a different way than she was used to) – but, I don’t know how I feel about it in the end. I can tell you that some people will HATE this aspect of the book. I’m on the fence, but I liked that, in the end, while Oz stood by the actions and beliefs of his club, he did show a little more personal restraint and respected what he believed Emily would want when it came down to it – maybe this is one of those cases where there’s more hope for the younger generation? Anyway, I feel like I could easily write an entire discussion post on this one subject (and I think I will!), but I will stop talking about it for now.
- Attraction as love. This is a small detail, but I have to bring it up because it’s so pervasive in YA books and it bugs me. Emily comments several times about how she is SO attracted to Oz and that kissing him is WAY different than kissing the couple of boys she’s kissed (once) in the past. The idea here is that you can tell with one kiss whether or not you’re “meant” for someone, which makes me crazy! The reason I don’t take off more stars for this is because Emily was smart enough to realize that attraction isn’t the ONLY factor to consider and fought against her feelings for Oz for quite awhile. Still, just once, I’d like to see the girl end up with a boy where their first kiss is awkward and not perfect and full of chemistry, but things build from there. Just once. (If you know of a book like this, tell me!!)
Despite a couple of flaws, I couldn’t give this book any less than 4.5 stars. I just enjoyed it too darn much! Nowhere But Here was a fantastic exploration of what it means to be a family and how we need to look beyond our preconceived notions and the tiny box we live in to see the world from other perspectives. I give it 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.
There’s still a giveaway going on for this book! I already featured it the other day when I posted the excerpt, but in case you missed it, here it is!