When I first heard about this book around its release in early 2017, I knew that it sounded exactly like my sort of read. And yet, somehow it took until June of this year for me to finally get around to diving into this gorgeous story for myself, something I can not tell you how glad I am that I did.
This story was both heartbreaking and heartwarming in the best possible way.
Through this story, Robin Roe explores the importance of friendship, and discusses so many diverse and important topics that I found extremely eye-opening to see in a YA novel. This plot is so compelling through its slow reveal, with the reader as unable to see where the story is going as the characters themselves. Despite all of the horrific things that happen in this book, in the end it is still love and friendship that prevails, something that made me truly fall in love with Robin Roe’s debut.
Not only did this story have a huge impact on me, but these characters are also ones that I will carry with me for a while to come. All of these characters are realistic, flawed teenagers trying to figure out themselves and the world whilst also facing problems and difficulties unique to each of them. I adored Julian almost as soon as I met him, with that love only growing as we got to watch him slowly open up and become more comfortable in himself. Similarly, Adam is a character I dare anyone not to fall in love with, as his bubbly personality, optimistic outlook and love for his friends shines throughout this story.
Honestly, they are both just pure cinnamon rolls that I want to protect at all costs.
The love and care between Adam and Julian was honestly one of the most heartwarming and lovely things to read about. Their relationship was so strong and so well developed, with them both truly caring about the other so much despite the time and distance that had separated them before. I loved how Adam was like an older brother to Julian, who looked after and supported him even when others questioned him for doing so, with Julian really looking up to him and loving him exactly like a brother.
I also loved the mental health representation in this book, as it was also a present aspect of the story without being the sole focus of it. Julian’s dyslexia was often touched upon and discussed, but was never a defining quality of his story or character, but rather just another part of the wonderfully kindhearted character that he is, with Adam’s ADHD represented in much the same way. I also really enjoyed seeing the use of herbal remedies to help Adam with his ADHD, as it reflected not only the diversity of mental health, but also the variety in how it is treated and managed. It was just so refreshing to see both mental illness and medication integrated so effortlessly and naturally into a story, something I definitely hope to see more of in future books.
Furthermore, the abuse storyline in this book was so well done for me. This both physical and emotional abuse was so horrific to read about, and really highlighted the brutality that victims of this face. Julian really felt like he was the one in the wrong and never wanted Russel to be blamed for what he was doing, something that made everything that much more heartbreaking yet realistic in my opinion. I also loved how it was all very slowly revealed to the reader as well as the other characters, with neither knowing the full scale of it until very late on.
As someone who usually prefers very lyrical, flowing writing, I was not expecting to fall so in love with Robin Roe’s simplistic style. It so perfectly suited the story, allowing the characters and their struggles to shine through and become the focus over complicated writing that would not have fitted well with this book. The story was fast paced and addictive as the writing was so easy to fall into – before I knew it, I was a 100 pages into this story, and unable to stop reading!
Overall, this story was everything I ever could have wanted and more. I adored everything about this beautiful book, from the spectacular Adam and Julian to the heartbreaking plot and simplistic writing style. This book deserves so much more hype than it currently receives, and so I will definitely be talking about it and recommending it for a long time to come.
Have you read this book – what did you think? Do you agree with my thoughts?