Synopsis: When her family moves after a rough year, Erin feels instantly at home in her new bedroom — even after she realizes that she’s not the only one occupying it. As Erin becomes accustomed to Joe, the spirit of the teenage boy who lived in the room before her, she starts to sense an inexplicable connection between them. Meanwhile, Joe’s brother, Olly, is trying to find a new normal since his brother passed away. Before Joe died, Olly was king of the school — and it’s not until Olly meets a new girl that he realizes just how many ways he’s changed . . . including the type of girl he could fall for. And when Erin finds herself caught between two brothers, and two choices, will her decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she’s lost forever?
*I received an e-copy of this book through NetGalley from Candelwick Press in exchange for an honest review*
“Maybe you only know how precious it is to be a part of the world once your time’s up and you no longer get the choice.”
I’m not much for contemporary books. For some reason if it doesn’t take place in another world or have lots of fantasy elements I’m usually not interested. But for some reason the synopsis for this book really captured my attention. It’s probably the weird, sappy romantic in me. And wow was she satisfied with this little gem of a book.
I didn’t expect much going in. And I’d never read anything from or even recognized the author, so I was ready for your typical formula, girl finds ghost, they fall in love, obstacles get in the way and either they get around them or she finds love with someone else. Now without spoiling too much because I want you all to read this book, the plot is extremely easy to suss out early on. The way the author has things play out, you know where the characters are headed long before they get there, but that was the beauty of it almost, knowing and yet getting to know the characters anyway. This book, while following several clichés and patterns that I normally hate, somehow made me fall in love with it.
Much of the reason for my liking of this book comes from the authors loving attention to her characters. Their raw honesty and true-to-life details make me feel like I could actually know them in real life, or in Erin’s case, be them. The depth of emotions and complexities she layers the characters with makes it easy to sympathize with them and want to get immersed in their unfolding story. And her use of a rotating POV between Erin, Joe and Olly was excellently executed as I always felt the characters had their own voice while still being connected to the story. I also applaud the author for having her characters tackle difficult things like bullying, depression, anxiety, loss of loved ones and just the general feeling of alienation. Things we all may have faced in one way or another but can sometimes fail to put into words.
The romance element is what joins this whole book together and while I have a few nitpicks with it there isn’t much I would change. The dynamic between Erin, Joe and Olly played out so well amongst the pages that by the end I was highly satisfied with where they all ended. My only gripe is that I wish Erin’s feelings for Olly would’ve been more fleshed out as by the end I still felt her connection to Joe was much stronger.
I admired the author’s use of poetry in the book as well, joining Erin and Joe by their shared use of writing to help them cope with stress and the release of pent-up emotions, it was a wonderful device to show how each of the characters words connected them and wound them together. The writing of the book itself flowed almost like poetry at times, beautiful in its pauses for quiet moments but the frenzied pace of what was happening in the characters lives and how each character was handling their own view of the situation.
Overall this was a spectacular book that went well beyond the surface of a normal contemporary read. The characters reminded me of what it means to struggle, make mistakes and even in the end they weren’t completely healed, which is sometimes how life turns out so it was nice to see an author be honest about the somewhat-happily-ever-afters. You can read this book as a fun love story, you can read it as a ghost story, either way this book is definitely worth a place on your shelf.