Published by Swoon Reads on 8/2/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: NetGalley, Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Some talk of sex and sexual scenes, Bullying)
After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance in this swoonworthy new novel from the author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That’s all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl’s suicide. Now Nikki’s been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates – almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it’s like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance… and everyone deserves to be loved.
This book was so much more than I expected it to be. At its heart, this is a story of redemption and forgiveness and finding your way past your worst choices. And, let’s face it, we all have choices we regret – it’s how we deal with them that matters.
The synopsis does a great job of describing the plot, so I’ll jump right into my review.
What Fed My Addiction:
- All the feels. This book put me through an emotional wringer and never let up. Not only did it make me cry (always a big bonus in my book), but I also found myself laughing at times, getting angry at others, and completely swooning over the plethora of sweet moments between Nikki and Pax. This is the single biggest factor that made this book shine for me – I felt so incredibly emotionally invested in these characters that I felt their every joy and pain. For me, this is the sign of a fantastic book!
- Flipped perspective. We see lots of books about people who are bullied, but when was the last time you read a books from the perspective of the person who did the bullying? Let’s face it, we don’t often feel like we want to see this perspective because we don’t want to relate to the person who did something hateful. And this book forces us to do that. Now, the only reason this works is because Nikki is remorseful for her part in what happened (and not solely to blame) and she’s facing the consequences. It was interesting to see how group mentality makes cruelty seem okay to people sometimes and to understand how situations like this can actually happen. Don’t get me wrong – Nikki’s (and her friends’) actions were never condoned in any way, but this book shed light on how things can get out of hand quickly and actions can be taken just a little bit further and a little bit further until you reach a point of no return and the damage can never be undone. Nikki had to come to terms with her part in that (and get past the bitterness of others’ part in it – and how she was the only one to face consequences). She also had to come to terms with the realization that forgiveness might be very hard to come by for everyone involved. I thought that Nikki’s journey was both realistic and poignant and it really highlighted how we can find redemption, even when our own horrible choices cause pain.
- Pax. Anyone who doesn’t swoon over Pax in this book must have a heart of stone. Pax is the kind of leading man who you fall in love with right along with the protagonist. I loved that we met him after he had already come to terms with his disability – he was strong and confident. But he certainly wasn’t perfect. Even though he’d accepted some of his limitations and hardships, he had a hard time believing that Nikki would be able to do the same, especially without feeling sorry for him. He, understandably, had a very difficult time letting her in and trusting that his heart when his mind told him that things couldn’t work out between them. The romance in this book was so incredibly sweet, but it was also realistically difficult – there were some major hurdles for Nikki and Pax to overcome and some truly painful moments between them that were heartbreaking!
What Left Me Wanting More:
- Not much. For some strange reason, I got caught up in reading some of the negative reviews for this book when I pulled it up on Goodreads in order to write this review (I don’t know why, since that’s not something I normally do), and I was honestly kind of shocked at some of the ranty reviews that got posted. Don’t get me wrong, the overall ratings were still very high, but there were a few people who really didn’t like this book and they had a lot to say about it. But, honestly, after reading those reviews, I don’t feel like I could agree with almost anything they said. It made me feel almost defensive – you’d think I’d written the book! Anyway, I’m not going to claim that this book was flawless but its positives so outweighed its minor flaws for me that I can’t really even think of what they were.
I’m incredibly glad I read this book. If you’re a fan of contemporaries, I highly recommend it! I give it 4.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About Karole Cozzo:
KAROLE COZZO is a school psychologist by day, a wife and mother of two by night, and a writer of YA romance in the wee hours of the morning. She loves camping out at Starbucks, breakfast cereal at all hours, and watching every movie made from her favorite YA books. How to Say I Love You Out Loud is her debut novel.
I usually shy away from books about bullying simply because it gets me so mad but you made such a good case for this book. I’d like to see how Pax was able to convince Nikki to forgive herself and make amends in her own way.
The bullying aspect might make you mad, but I think the overall story really shows redemption.
Ah, this book looks really interesting. I’m glad you enjoyed it; great review! 🙂
Thanks – it was a great read!
Such an awesome review!
So, I knew this one sounded good, and I wanted to get it for my school library, but thanks to your review, I really, really want to read it myself now! You are right about the bullying aspect, I can think of one other, Tease by Amanda Maciel, but that’s about it. Thanks for sharing this, and for the chance to win!
I’ll have to check Tease out. Thanks for the rec!
Fantastic review Nicole!
I loved this one so much!! I think the bullying aspect was done well and loved to get her perspective. Pax was amazing and I can’t imagine people not loving him. Great review!!
Yes, I loved getting a different perspective when it came to the bullying. We think of bullies as horrible people, but we do have to realize that they’re human – someone CAN learn from their mistakes, and one action (even a terrible one) doesn’t have to define who you are forever.
It’s always interesting to read negative reviews of a book you really liked and think “what were THEY reading?” Ah well, we’re all different I guess. This sounds like a really good book with an important topic.
Yes, so true! I’m not that surprised that one or two people just really couldn’t get on board with forgiving Nikki – I tend to look for the good in people and want to give people second chances (in life AND in books). But I was surprised to see one really ranty review about the way Pax was portrayed – I didn’t really understand (or, at least agree with) almost any of the person’s points – but that’s just me!
I hadn’t heard of this book until reading your post. Now, it is on my TBR and I’m eager to read it. Sounds really good and I loved your positive review!!
This book sounds like something I’d definitely be interested in! I love the swooniness in the Swoon Reads imprint, and it’s really different to see a book told from the bully’s point of view. I hope that person learned their lesson! Great review <3
Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books
Ok so I feel like if I read YA contemporary, this is something I’d read. I mean, I’ve been looking for books about characters with disabilities and the like (but not books necessarily ABOUT the disability) since that’s an area majorly lacking in diversity, and this also sounds like one that really would make me think and question my own thoughts and see things differently. I mean, I’ll admit I immediately disliked the MC upon reading the blurb and jumped to the conclusion that she deserved whatever treatment she got if she bullied someone, but then you mentioned the flipped perspective and how the book shows how something like that ends up happening and all that, and that’s made curious. So this does sound like a great contemporary. Great review!
What a great review!! Normally, I do seek out negative reviews because I am just like that. The negative reviews don’t necessarily stop me from reading the book unless there are a lot of them and unless the negative review is from someone I trust. This review sounds awesome and makes me want to read it immediately. Thanks so much for the giveaway.