Monday, 26 January 2015
Review: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2015
Add to Goodreads
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
There is absolutely no way I can do this book justice. It is so beautiful. And just all the things. When I read the synopsis and saw some key words, trailer, small town, Marine. I knew I'll Meet You There would have every opportunity to break my heart. Probably more than once.
Skylar has made it her priority to get out of Creek View. Not many people do and she refuses to be stuck there in a mediocre life. Now that graduation is under her belt, she's just got the summer to work at the Paradise, the local motel, and off to San Francisco and freedom she'll be.
Josh is back in Creek View after a tour in Afghanistan. Joining the Marines was supposed to be his one ticket out of the lowly life Creek View was going to offer him. But that's not what life had in store for him. Josh is back in Creek View having lost a leg in Afghanistan.
Skylar and Josh spent high school working at the Paradise together. They sparked up an unlikely friendship during those years. When Josh was shipping off, Skylar knew she was going to miss his company. She thought about him a lot, and now that he's back she can't wait to see him. Skylar really hopes Josh feels the same way. Skylar quickly realizes this is a different Josh. The old Josh was a player and cocky. This Josh is distant and moody. Skylar is determined not to treat him differently though. This is where their friendship turns into something a lot deeper.
The relationship between Skylar and Josh was definitely the most heart warming and heart breaking bit of the book. I adored both characters and how their growth and change in attitude was done, just spot on.
Creek View is a middle no where California town. Everyone lives in a trailer and works a minimum wage job. Skylar and her best friend Chris made a pact to pretty much stay single and get a free ride to university. Skylar has no problem sticking to that. She's straight laced. Having lost her dad to a car accident where he drank and drove, Skylar refuses to touch the stuff. Other kids see her as a bit of a prude for it. I love how she sticks to her morals and doesn't let peer pressure distract her from her goals. I also loved how Skylar showcases Creek View and her life there through her collages. How she puts her life into art is beautiful and one of her stronger personality traits. Skylar works hard at her job but also taking care of her mom. She's worried about her surviving without her. Syklar has had to grow up and become the parent. Which becomes very apparent and almost shatters everything Skylar has worked towards when her mom loses her job and goes off the deep end.
There's not many chapters from Josh's POV, but the ones that are are heart breaking. Josh returns to Creek View a shell of a person. The horrors of war follow him. Having had his leg blown off is not something you're suppose to bounce back from. Josh is understandably surviving from PTSD and feels like he's useless. He should be back with this friends as they're shipping out on another tour. Josh was the high school star. The popular guy. Two years later and one leg short he's still the center of attention. But it's for different reasons. He doesn't know how to handle it, nor does it seem like his friends know how to be around him without pity. Josh also doesn't have the support of his family. He feels like he's disappointed them. Without even the support of his family to help get him through is really hard to read. There's so much heart break with Josh's story, but it also leaves room for hope.
Like I mentioned above, Skylar and Josh's relationship in I'll Meet You There is everything. Of course I totally shipped them. But it was so much more than that. The way Skylar is able to drop all the BS around Josh is exactly what he needs. Josh doesn't want pity. He's already beating himself up enough over what happened in Afghanistan. Skylar is the first person to offer him friendship. She treats him like a person. There's the easy banter about his leg. She doesn't freak out and think he's weak. Skylar is also able to pull him out when he disappears inside himself. In turn Josh is able to trust her and starts to open up about his feelings and experiences over seas; the good and bad. But it is not just what Skylar has to offer Josh, it's also what Josh is able to do for Skylar.
There's also the fantastic bunch of supporting characters. Like Marg, the owner of Paradise. She offers Josh and Skylar a family they are both lacking. And Dylan, Skylar's BFF. She's able to show Skylar that even though she's a teenage mom and will probably be a Creek View lifer, it doesn't mean she's any less of a person. Dylan is happy with her life and helps Skylar see that Creek View is apart of her, not something to be ashamed of. But something to grow and learn from. Even Skylar's mom adds depth to the story. Yes, she spirals down in the dark end. But not once does she expect Skylar to give up her dreams and life to take care of her. Everyone has a point and life that helps further the story along.
I finished I'll Meet You There with tears streaming down my face. Which is very inductive of my reading experience. There were happy tears mixed in with the not so happy tears. I think when there's a central story around a war vet, especially one as young as Josh, there is every chance for it go horribly wrong. Obviously Demetrios captured Josh's struggles with learning to deal with what life had dealt him in a strong and emotional way. Add in Skylar and Creek View(yes I see the town as it's own character because it is), both with their own obstacles to over come and I don't see why this book isn't on everyone's TBR's. Pre-order it. Request it at the library. Whatever. Just make sure you read it next month. This is a story that deserves to be heard.