Author: Stacie Ramey
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published Date: November 1st 2016
Genre: YA, Realistic Fiction
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★.5
Forced to return to his estranged family, John discovers how hard it is to truly go home.
It's been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John's homecoming is far from happy.
As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She's sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn't far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself.
"I'm here to finish probation. Live according to Mom's rules. Then get out and go away and never come back."
John is a troubled teenager that is being forced to live back with his mom, older brother and baby sister after having been kicked out several years earlier. This seems like it could be a good thing until you learn why John was kicked out and see what is really happening with his older brother who was in a horrible accident and how John's mom deals with it all. The only bright spot he can see with coming home is his little sister who is a ball of happy energy despite what she lives/deals with everyday.
"The thing is, John, education is power. And power means choices. I don't know how many choices you see for your future. Maybe you haven't even considered that you could have one."With John back in school and playing a sport again he starts trying with a little encouragement from his counselors, probation officer, coach, teachers and parents he really starts changing for the better or at least thats how he makes it look. Behind the scenes though he's always at boiling point and constantly wants to use in order to forget what happened and what is going on now. With Emily's help (even though she has her own problems) he stops being so impulsive and starts realizing that certain things need to happen and be said or he can't become who he really wants to be.
Overall I really liked this story. Even though John's family had problems you could tell they still loved each other and cared for one another. They all had their own guilt for what happened on the day that changed their lives forever. Because of that and the anger they feel for one another because of how they treated each other after the accident they have a very messy family dynamic. But it was realistic and that made the story more enjoyable for me. Yeah John was given a lot of chances that most kids wouldn't have gotten, but he acknowledged that and after awhile started to take the opportunity's he was being given and used them.
I loved the ending and how they finally cleared some things up, and actually set down and talked for a change. Sure there is going to be more work ahead for all of them and certain things can't be undone, but it's time for all of them to live in the now and stop blaming themselves for something that they can't change.
"You can't keep people in this world. You can't change the past. You can't go back in time and make it so Ryan never got hit. You're only human. But you're a damned good human."
Ramey did such an amazing job with making you feel for all of the characters even when I was frustrated with them, I could still see why they were doing what they were.
This is a companion novel, but it isn't necessary to read the first one to understand this one.
"Maybe this is me actually moving on. Living my life. Because I can. Because I should."Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
"Five seconds of our life should not dictate the rest."