First Lines: There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you. Not like your best friend’s brother who gets you in a headlock kind of hold. Or the little kid you’re babysitting who attaches himself to your leg kind of hold. I’m talking epic. Life changing.
I know this book is older (it was published in 2012 and it’s been on my to-read list since 2011), but it’s always been one of those books that I’ve sort of had my eye on. I was scanning the library shelves one day and grabbed this because, you know, it’s been a while since I’ve read about death. (That wasn’t weird, right?) Anyway, I really wanted to give this book a chance.
Brie had everything going for her: a great group of friends, the perfect boyfriend, and diving skills that could have taken her to the Olympics. But when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her anymore and it literally breaks her heart, all of her dreams are gone, just like her. And death isn’t easy to deal with. While trying to come to grips with the fact that she’s no longer one of the living, her family back in Half Moon Bay is falling apart. Her best friend has been keeping secrets about Jacob, Brie’s boyfriend–and the truth behind the betrayal that broke her heart. With the help of Patrick, a fellow soul and sometimes guide through the afterlife, Brie tries to understand what happened and why. But how can you pick up the pieces when you’re broken yourself?
Right from the beginning, I liked Brie. She’s not perfect, but you tend to forgive her her faults because we meet her just as she’s reeling from her death. I don’t think anyone expects their life to be over at 15 and Brie certainly wasn’t. It puts her in a bad mood quite often (understandably), but it’s all within reason. She never came across to me as a diva or drama queen. Just a lost girl who wanted to be living her life.
The crafting of this story was really well done. Brie’s path toward understanding and moving on from her death felt realistic and really never moved into the cliche like it so easily could have. Instead, she feels everything I would expect her to feel: angry, sad, betrayed, lost, miserable, forgotten, hopeless. (It’s a pretty dark read at times. I was in tears multiple times from beginning to end.) But on top of that, you get a real sense of hope as well. Like that there are better things out there after death, and that our loved ones don’t forget us when we’re gone. It was tragically beautiful.
The writing was really well done as well, shifting from present to past and with subtle foreshadowing sprinkled in from time to time. I knew that there were a few things that were going to happen from the foreshadowing, but it was vague enough that I couldn’t quite piece together exactly what it was. It was just really well written and enjoyable.
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this story, from her best friends to her boyfriend to her family and the spirits she meets after her death. Everyone had a backstory and a realistic motivation to be who they were and they weren’t just flat stereotypical characters. I keep saying this over and over, but it was delightfully written. Even though it’s dark.
I thought this was just amazing. I had a really hard time putting it down. If you haven’t read this before, you really need to.