Goodreads description: Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…
That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.
Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.
I read this book because someone I respect recommended it to me. I’m going to try to constructively break down why this book didn’t work for me, but I’m guessing there will be some ranting involved. There will be spoilers, so if you haven’t read it and might want to, turn back. I’m not judging anyone for liking this book, everyone likes different things. The majority of people seem to really love it. It has a 4.55 average rating on Goodreads. I’m just trying to honestly express my opinions.
Also, this discussion requires trigger warnings. tw: abuse, tw: sexual abuse, tw: rape,tw: suicide, tw: gore. I think that’s all, but just be warned, a lot of unpleasant things are talked about. If I did miss a warning, please let me know and I’ll add it.
I kind of feel ill-equipped to discuss everything I find wrong with this book. Part of me wants to ask someone I know could handle it better, but I don’t want to subject them to this book.
This probably isn’t a review, it’s more of a laundry list of reasons why this book made me sick to my stomach.
Spoiler Summary: Sky lives with an overprotective mother. She was adopted and she’s always been home-schooled. She finally gets her mom to agree to let her go to public school. She doesn’t fit in, but she meets a hot bad boy. She makes an instant and weird connection with the bad boy. They date, they have issues. They try to have sex and she freaks out. She remembers something in his house and he explains that she used to live next door to him and she was kidnapped when they were little. They go to the scene of the house and she remembers that her father molested her. They leave and she begs bad boy (Holder) to sex her up. It’s her first time. They go back to the house and her dad sees them. Sky confronts her dad. Her dad shoots himself in front of them. They go back to the hotel room and have sex again. They go back to her house and talk to her mom. Everything ends up being okay in the end.
The first part of the book deals with Sky and Holder finding each other and “falling in love.” It was pretty obvious to me that something was wrong with Sky from the numbness, and I correctly guessed what it was. She becomes so consumed in Holder. I think that I wouldn’t have really liked their romance even if it was just romance without the abuse story.
Sky is too much. It’s like Hoover is trying so hard to make her stand out and be different from typical YA main characters. For me, she didn’t come off as edgy, it just seemed like the writing was trying to force her to be edgy. Dean (called Holder) seems too much like every male character: bad boy with bad rep. He has issues because his sister committed suicide and he’s a loner. He’s an awful cheeseball and can be a huge jerk.
The writing didn’t seem very strong to me, either:
“Six’s sense of humor and straightforward personality are huge factors in why we get along so well. Peppy, fake girls annoy the hell out of me. I don’t know that pep is even in Six’s vocabulary. She’s one black wardrobe away from being your typical, broody teenager. And fake? She’s as straight shooting as they come, whether you want her to be or not. There isn’t a fake thing about Six.”
“I unnoticeably inhale, then let out a slow, controlled breath in an attempt not to appear blindsided by that comment”
The real list of issues:
• Sky’s mom (Karen) is really strict because she doesn’t want her to what? Find out she was kidnapped? Find out where she came from? Wonder about her past? They only live two towns away from Sky’s father. Why wouldn’t you move her farther away? If you’re going to kidnap a police chief’s daughter, I feel like you would at least try to hide. I feel like the authorities on this case sucked. They interviewed Holder because he saw the car but they obviously didn’t look into her dad’s past. It would be really easy for any cop show I watch to connect the disappearance with his sister and I sincerely hope that kidnap cases are handled better in real life.
• Karen got a fake adoption and moved her birthday to make her older. Why would you make her older? It’s only by six months and she’d still be the same size as other kids her age, so I don’t understand this at all. She could have made her a month or two younger.
• Regardless of repressed memories, Karen should have made sure Sky was mentally and emotionally okay. Just because a child seems okay, doesn’t mean they are. Just because they seem okay, doesn’t mean they don’t need help. Sky was obviously having issues that just exploded into other issues. No, it’s fine. Let her keep her memories repressed and let it all fester. Good idea.
• Holder is pretty sure Sky is actually Hope from the minute they “meet” at the grocery store. He convinced himself that it might not be her, but he still feels like it could be her. He starts a relationship with this girl but doesn’t tell her anything. Then he realizes it is her but he still doesn’t tell her. He does it for her own good because she’s missing, and he doesn’t want to hurt her. That’s just so wrong. Why does he think he has the right to decide if she gets to know the truth about her life? He doesn’t tell her until she has a break and realizes that something is wrong. He doesn’t tell her until after they try to have sex and she freaks out. This is scummy behavior in my opinion.
• Sky quickly goes from understanding what happened to wanting to go see her house and her dad. She just found out she was kidnapped and she’s beginning to remember her life before that, and it isn’t good. She knows her “mom” lied to her. Instead of taking time to just, let it sink in, she immediately wants to go to her old house. Maybe some people would behave this rashly and want to immediately go see their past, but it just seems so odd to me. Plus, Holder agreeing to drive her there is kind of weird, too. He just agrees to whatever she wants, even when he knows it isn’t a good idea.
• Sky goes to her childhood room and remembers in a really awful flashback that her dad molested her. She has one huge and realistic meltdown. She tells Holder what she remembered. They leave and then she wants to have sex with him, because she needs him to “take it away.” He doesn’t want to because he doesn’t understand why she wants to do this after remembering. This just seems really wrong and sick to me.
“He doesn’t want our first time to be this way. I wish it wasn’t, but sometimes factors other than love make these decisions for you. Factors like hate. Sometimes in order to get rid of the hate, you become desperate. He knows hate and he knows pain and right now he knows how much i need this, whether he agrees with it or not.”
I don’t agree with this quote at all. He is really reluctant and uncomfortable. Then he complies but has to stop and leaves the hotel room. Then they have explanation time where they share I love you’s and talk about if she’s ruined or not and then they go ahead and have sex. She also mentions that Hope loved him too, which kinda of seems gross in this context.
-They go back to her house and Sky wants to see what her father/abuser looks like. She’s worried he could be doing it to someone else and has to find out right then. Holder tries to stop her, and tells her they can make phone calls, but she is still hesitant to leave. Before they can make a decision, her father shows up. There’s this huge ordeal with them trying to get get away before her dad recognizes her, but he does. Holder is trying to shield her and is freaking out. Sky confronts her father, telling him she remembers everything. They go inside his house with him and Holder tells him to leave his gun. AND HE DOES. He leaves two guns on his porch steps, where Holder stays. Why would any cop agree to do that? I do not believe this would ever happen.
-She thinks about how much she loves him and doesn’t want to report him and ruin her life. She says that she’s sorry that he had to do through her mother’s death. It is difficult for me to believe that anyone could go to this place so soon (or ever). I have never been through this, but I do know people that have been through this. Understanding and forgiveness is not something that happens easily, sometimes it never comes. I do not believe she would be able to cope with the knowledge and memories so quickly. I’m sorry, it just isn’t believable to me. People go through years of therapy and don’t feel this way. I can see her maybe still loving him, but this whole situation seems unlikely.
– When they confront her dad they find out he’s done it to two other people, Holder’s sister and his own sister. Her dad ends up shooting himself in the head, right in front of them. Instead of waiting for police to arrive, they just leave. I guess they just don’t want to answer why they were there, but this just seems stupid. There’s no way either of them could be blamed. It might have them asking questions about her adoption but I don’t understand how they just leave!
-Immediately after washing blood and brains off of them and out of their hair, “I slide the blood around between my fingertips, but it’s thick. It’s thicker than blood should be. That’s because it’s not only my father’s blood that’s all over us,” Sky wants Holder to have sex with her. I don’t even know how to process this. Maybe there was some adrenaline, but who wants to have sex after you saw someone kill himself right in front of you? Even if it was a stranger, let alone your father and abuser. It’s also insane to me that Holder wants to have sex with her. Maybe I’m completely overreacting, but they had bits of brain on them. How could you go from that to sex so quickly? There’s always time to have sex later. They have magic sex, even though it’s her first/second time. Even if there’s a possibility this is realistic, it is not something I ever wanted to read about. Also, it’s the second time she’s had sex and she’s on top and it’s totally great because teenage sex gods, of course. This sex scene is also badly written and graphic.
“I never thought I would be able to trust a man enough to share my heart, much less hand it over completely.”
-Holder proceeds to give her tips on coping. Because he is an expert on coping. You know, the 18-year-old guy who went to a few sessions after his sister committed suicide knows how to help a sexual abuse victim whose father and abuser committed suicide in front of her. He’s also super stable, so he’s good to give her advice. She does this mental exercise where she tells her younger self it will be okay. And then…she’s okay? People that are abused don’t just magically get over it. I also don’t think a teenage guy is going to be able to talk her though this and not have issues of his own. I’m pretty sure they would both need a lot of help and therapy after this whole ordeal.
-Karen says she was going to tell Sky everything as soon as she turned 18. Um, okay? I don’t understand what difference that makes. They go back and discover that Karen is really Sky’s aunt and she was also victim of Sky’s father. She took Hope because she was sure Hope was being abused and wanted her to be safe. She had a fake adoption, not legal but under the rug. Why would you wait to tell someone that? She obviously needs a lot of help getting through this. Karen and Sky probably both need counseling, but it’s never mentioned.
“We wrap our arms around each other and we cry. We cry mother to daughter. We cry aunt to niece. We cry victim to victim. We cry survivor to survivor.”
Sure, but please get some actual help.
To me, this book focused on Sky and Holder’s relationship instead of her actual issues. Everything that’s happened to her is in the background while her love for Holder is what supposedly helps her. Being in love with a guy doesn’t magically make your problems better.
Based on this book, I wouldn’t want to read anything else by Colleen Hoover. This isn’t even every problem I had with it, it’s just the key points. I don’t like the way Sky’s abuse was handled in the story. I feel like so many NA books use abuse for hurt/comfort romance situations instead of actually helping the character work on their issues in a healthy way. I realize that there were a lot of hot romantic moments in the book which a lot of people liked, but they weren’t for me. Again, I’m not judging anyone and I know a lot of people I follow (and some that follow back) love it, which is great, but I needed to discuss some of the problems I had with it. I’m sure I could have articulated it better and this post is ridiculously long, but I think my feelings got the best of me and most of them were “ick.”