Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Fantastic Flying Book Tours
Can life begin again… every other weekend?
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.
Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.
Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, but it does not influence my opinion of the book nor this review in any way.
Honestly… I’m not even sure where to start with this review. How do I communicate how much I adored this book with words rather than with gifs or emoji’s? Even then, I’m uncertain I can capture the heart of this book like it captured mine, or how much it gave me while I was reading it. It truly did capture my heart, and I will definitely be looking out for more from Abigail Johnson in the future.
In terms of a basic summary… Adam’s oldest brother died two years ago, and his family has been ripped apart by grief. Unable to take it, his dad moved out, living in an apartment 30 minutes away from the beautifully restored farmhouse Adam grew up in. Now, Adam only lives with his dad in the shitty apartment every other weekend. His new next-door neighbor is Jolene, the daughter of bitterly divorced parents, who lives with her dad’s apartment every other weekend, merely because her dad enjoys taking Jolene away from her mom. The rest of the time, she lives with her mom, who is definitely a psycho narcissist of the worst caliber, who enjoys taking away everything Jolene loves from her life.
Neither Jolene nor Adam is happy. But with being fifteen and living in a shitty apartment complex with no driving license and no way out, they spend the time together and open up more and more. Jolene is a brazen, bitingly sarcastic fifteen-year-old, wrapping herself in self-aggrandizing comments to hide her deep-seated insecurities about having absolutely no one in her life who cares for her. You can’t help but fall in love with her, because she’s stubbornly hilarious with all her witty-comments, and she broke my heart. She’s the literal symbol of “you can’t choose your family,” and for this poor girl, I really wish that she could.
“Sometimes I just think about you and I feel better. I don’t even have to see you or touch you—” Adam squeezed my hand “—and I feel warm. How do you do that?”
“I’m the physical embodiment of Prozac.”
Adam, too, had so much going on in his life. I loved him because he wasn’t just pigeon-holed into the stereotypical role of “good boy,” or “Bad boy,” but instead read like a real, funny guy. He’s decent and adorable, and he immediately fell under Jolene’s spell. He’s honest and just wants his family to be whole again, horribly grief-struck from both losing his brother, and losing the family he had before they all became wrapped in their own shrouds of mourning. He may be fifteen, but he’s up there in book boyfriend territory, for sure (once he gets older). He truly loves Jolene for who she is, and it’s literally the cutest thing. She can be harsh and crass, but he’s always so gentle and sweet with her.
Their connection was obvious and the dialogue fast-paced and hilarious. I laughed more than I cried, which is saying something because I cried in this book. Jolene and Adam were two very angry, messed up kids. Jolene’s situation was nothing short of royally f*cked up, but as they started to hang out together during their bi-weekly visits with their respective parents, as neighbors, they became each other’s safe space in a way that felt very genuine and honest.
It’s an emotional read, as Jolene and Adam’s discontent and rage jump out at you throughout most of the novel. But it’s also a really great story of friendship and vulnerability. Jolene had never been freely loved by a single person other than a housekeeper she no longer gets to see, and Adam was wracked with grief and anger at his parents.
“It was a love story. Not romantic exactly, but the kind of love that maybe lasts beyond passion and heartache. It was a story of friendship, with all its possibilities laid out in front of it.”
I absolutely fell in love with these two endearing characters. Their friendship was so real to me and watching it evolve as they learned to lean on each other and become more and more vulnerable with each other brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Jolene had me cracking up with her bravado, wicked wit, and dramatic self-deprecating ways. It was all a symptom of the bullet-proof shell she constructed around her heart to escape and endure the horrible war-zone that was her childhood.
Their relationship was a slow burn that evolved and unfolded so beautifully. My heart clenched and my stomach dipped right along with the characters as the other said something in flirtation or friendship. Towards the end, Adam started flirting more and more and my toes curled with Jolene’s. I was so invested that I stayed in bed until 1:30 p.m., anxious to finish this story and anxious for my beautiful characters to get the ending they deserved.
Abigail Johnson crafted this one so perfectly, I can’t help but feel that it must have been semi-autobiographical at some point. I don’t know this to be true, but she got so well in the head of these two fifteen-year-olds, both horribly terrified and desperately hopeful towards the future. I went into this expecting an adorable story about two teens to become friends, but it was so, so much more than that. It was equally gut-wrenching and adorable, and I loved reading this story about finding friendship, then love, in such a hopeless scenario. I loved watching them find and connect with each other through their pain, friendship, and healing. The characters were each so rich and distinctive, and it was so emotional, tender, honest, and real that I know this one will end up as one of my favorite reads of 2020 ✨
I have so much more to gush and say, but I think this is one of those books that everyone needs to read. Truly, consider picking this one up. Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Tours for the review copy 😊
Are you thinking of picking this one up? What’s your most surprising read of the year so far? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!