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.