First Lines: Mr. Shackleford shuffles in the front door of the Breeze Mart, jingling the bells tied to a velvet string on the handle.  Please don’t die on my shift.  Please don’t die on my shift.  Please don’t die on my shift.

I was lucky when I went to the library and found a couple of awesome new books on the shelf (like Made You Up, which I just reviewed yesterday).  Having never read anything by Anna Banks, I was excited to see what this could be like.

It’s been 3 years since Carly’s parents were deported back to Mexico, leaving Carly to live with her older brother, Julio.  Together, they try to scrape together enough money to bring their parents back.  On top of that, Carly studies hard because she knows the only way to really help her family is to get an education.  Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback and an ace prankster with his sister.  But that changed when his sister, Amber, died.  Arden blames his dad, the town sheriff, who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness.  Now Arden refuses to do anything his father wants.  When Carly and Arden’s paths cross, they discover in each other what they’ve both been searching for: a way to live.

I want to start off with the writing style of this book.  The story jumps between the perspectives of Arden and Carly, letting them get equal face time.  Which was great for fully capturing their situations and personalities.  But Anna Banks is not the most descriptive of authors.  There were some times where I truly couldn’t figure out what had just happened, even after I reread a section two or three times.  There just weren’t enough details for my imagination.

Carly and Arden are really interesting.  They are those opposites that actually complement each other well, you know?  Carly is driven and a “teacher’s pet” in school, in Arden’s opinion.  Arden is reckless and aimless, wandering late at night until he finds some kind of trouble to get into.  I started off thinking there was no way these two were ever going to be good together, but they totally proved me wrong.

I know this is going to sound bad, but there was more depth to this story than I thought there would be.  I was expecting some pranks and some romance, but I wasn’t expecting the social issues (poverty, immigration, racism, etc.) that showed up.  It was more well-rounded that way.  And I was impressed.

I do have a couple of strikes against the story.  It did take me a while to get into (nothing really unusual there), but it was the ending that bothered me.  I felt jilted because the action just stops all of a sudden.  Like when you’re just starting to go over the biggest hill on a roller coaster when suddenly the ride stops and they force you to get off.  Where’s the thrill?  I was disappointed.

But really, it was an engaging read.  It’s more than social issues and family drama.  Arden is sweeter than you expect him to be and Carly has more backbone than she seems to have in the beginning.  I enjoyed this.


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