Friday, November 6, 2015

#Friday Review - I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (Young Adult, Contemporary)

Format: E-Galley, 388 pages
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

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.

Heather Demetrios's I'll Meet You There is an emotionally charged standalone story that features 18-year old Skylar Evans, and 19-year old Josh Mitchell. Each character has their issues. Each character is far from perfect, and each has been brought to life brilliantly by author Demetrios. Let me break down the characters. Both Skylar and Josh live in a small town of Creek View, California where poverty, desperation, and self-loathing is normal.

Sky is a hard working girl, who is eager to put Creek View behind her and attend college where there is a scholarship waiting for her. But, things don't go exactly as planned. In fact, I dare say that things get worse, instead of better. Especially after her mother loses her job, and falls into a deep, dark, depressed place where only alcohol can help her. With her hopes of leaving Creek shrinking into the sunset, Sky must make hard choices. 

Sky, who has her own responsibilities, ends up supporting them both. Skylar has had a reputation as being unattainable, which leads to having no real relationships. But, she has two best friends in Chris and Dylan that have stood by her side since the day her father died. Chris, like Skylar, also plans on getting out while the getting is good, while Dylan has to deal with the realities of living in a small town, living in a trailer park, and taking care of a newborn baby. I adore Chris. I adore that he was a bright light that stood by Skylar no matter what. Never could figure out why they weren't together, but I digress.

Things get interesting for Skylar when Josh Mitchell comes home from being badly hurt in Afghanistan. Josh's story is one of horror, the realities of war, and a character who has a major case of PTSD he struggles to ignore. I respect Heather Demetrios so much right now. She doesn't hold back on her portrayal of a young marine who loses his leg in war, and has a whole lot of issues to deal with. Demetrios tells Josh's story as though he is telling someone else what happened to him, and what is happening to him in Creek View. Josh and Skylar's relationship is pretty much pushed by Skylar herself.

She never once went all judge-y about Dylan's loss of his leg or his depressed state of mind. Instead, she offered love, encouragement, and support. That, my friends is what you should do to all our veterans who have served this country and are now experiencing a hard time returning to civilian life. Let's not toss them out in the streets for political expediency for another sector of the population or ignore the fact that they, like me, volunteered to serve our country willingly.

Some of us had no choice but to enlist. Josh's only real choices were to enlist, or become a truck driver. My choices were a bit different but just as dead end. I loved that Skylar is a Top Gun fan. Fact is, so am I. I once would have listened to Highway to the Danger Zone until my ears bled while also driving like a bat out of hell. Skylar and Josh's relationship is anything but smooth, and that is life. There is no love at first sight let's jump straight into bed. 

It is a slow roll ride that has many ups and downs with both characters dealing with real life. I love that both characters know real life tragedyOne of my favorite characters in this entire book is Sky's boss Marge. She is such an adorable, loving, and awesome character. She loves both Sky and Josh. She understands what Josh is going through since her son also served and had a hard time of things. I love that she supports both characters, even when Sky and her mother are having a major rift. I love that she wasn't judgmental in any way. Perhaps readers can learn a thing or two from Marge. 

I respect Demetrios for putting a bit of her own experiences at the end of the story and for offering resources that readers can go to. She is obviously an author who knows the subject she is writing about. War is hell, and there is nothing that can ever change a person's mind over supporting, or defending it. Josh, to me, is not unlike other veterans who have lost a limb, but are eager to return to those who they relate to as brothers in arms.

**I received this book for free from (Publisher) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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