Top critical review
Not for me
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2017
When I first heard about the synopsis of this book, I was so excited I felt like I had to get this book in my hands immediately. It's rarely that a book's back cover can pull me in that easily, but it did. Come on! A high school sweet heart couple married and living happily then suddenly the husband disappears presumes to be dead on their 1st year anniversary??? She then tries to move on with her life several years later by finding love again just to have her dead husband come back alive??? What a great premise to set up for hopefully a heart wrenching, never want to put down book right?
WRONG! As hopeful as I was going into this, I knew from the very first few pages that this author's writing wasn't for me. Previous to this book, I've never read anything by Reid so I did not know her style. From this little venture of mine, I do have to say this will be the last book I read from her. Here's the thing, I know it's a cliche to say...but I hate it when a book is full of exposition and I feel like the whole plot is being told to me rather than shown. That is how I felt for the first 100 pages or so. The first 100 pages is about our main character Emma's high school years, how she met her husband Jesse and how they fell in love, got married and his later disappearance. The character Emma was written in some a childish way and I get that she was supposed to be high school age and I thought the author might have done this on purpose. But I've read some debut YA contemporaries that's written better than this. There's no emotion or character development for Emma or Jesse. I did not know anything about Jesse to understand why she was so heads over heels over him. OK, he was hot, a swimmer and he wanted to not swim but his parents wanted him to go to the Olympics. WOW...so much depth! And Emma supposedly had this weird complex where she was the typical second child in her family to an older sister that had everything, including their parents' attention which complicated the sister relationship. This could have been such a good exploration of siblings within a family but it was just being told to me how perfect her sister is and the whole time we didn't see anything between them that would have made me believe what she was telling me. Marie, the sister, was merely a passing character in the book as if Emma was telling me about her while we're having coffee! That's how this whole first part of a book felt like to me. Like I was having coffee with someone and that someone was telling me about these people she knew.
Once we get into more of the present day events, when Emma meets Sam, also a guy from high school who used to be friends with her and her family, I thought the writing would change a bit. And when Jesse was found to be alive and comes back into Emma's life, I thought the emotions and writing style would pick up but I was yet wrong again! I don't know how such a great premise could be written so blandly! I felt nothing for these characters. When Emma was distraught between the two men she loved, trying to make THE decision of a life time, I felt nothing. In fact, I was quite annoyed with her. I get that if I were put into a situation like this, I would also be confused. But Emma was way too wishy washy. She kept going back and forth between the two men without a good enough justification for any of it. And this is probably due to the lack of character development that wasn't set up from the very beginning. There hasn't been a connection set up for any of the relationships that would explain a wishy washy behaviour during a time of confusion like this. And that was what was so lackluster for me.
I won't spoil the ending but I do think the author made Emma do the "right" thing. But the path to getting there was so frustrating and happened way too quickly. It was like a light bulb moment went in Emma's head and she decided the right thing to do so quickly, it made the rest of the book moot! I really wanted another author to write this and now because the premise has already been explored, it will never happen. The whole time I thought it would have been such a better story if someone like Colleen Hoover or Tammara Webber wrote this, but oh well!