Publisher: Katherine Tegen (HarperCollins)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them - a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: In one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra's knee, his athletic career, and his social life.I love love love this book. It's a bit of a bait-and-switch, but not really, but kind of - oh, darn it. What I mean is this - the story begins with rumination about tragedy, so I guess you're kind of prepared for a sad kind of tale. But then Ezra finds his place in a new circle of friends, and most of the book is him settling in, having new experiences and discovering who he is, basically enjoying life in a good, healthy way. And then when you're kind of ready to hear what Cassidy's story really is, when you (or at least I) think you know what the mystery is, when you think there's going to be a nice, lovely resolution - well, none of that happens. You do hear Cassidy's story, but none of it is simple, none of it is what you (I) thought it would be.
No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra has ever met - achingly effortless and fiercely intelligent.
But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: If one's singular tragedy has already hit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?
The thing is that Ezra really does grow. But in the way life tends to go, he has setbacks just when it seems he's found everything. And the big, huge mystery and problem is much more complicated than you could imagine, even after you've found out the base issue. And I absolutely love the way Robyn blended so many different issues together in one page - really, in one paragraph. There's the guilt I expected, though not in the way I expected it, there's frustration and depression, there's paranoia and despair, there's family, forgiveness, friendship and romance. And then there's picking yourself up after everything you've come to know falls apart.
So basically, this book wins on two fronts - the bulk of the book is just plain fun. Because yeah, Ezra is struggling with getting to know himself and his place, but it's all with jokes, and bad (very bad) puns, and good-natured ribbing, and finding out what real people are like when the jocks and cheerleaders fade into the background.
And then when tragedy hits again, my heart broke. I love both Ezra and Cassidy, I love their relationship, I love their friends. And in a weird sort of way because they are completely fictional characters (though why this is any weirder than loving them, I'm not sure) I admire them. They're good people. They make mistakes, but they're good. They try as hard as they can to do good for others. That's kind of where they go wrong, which only makes the whole thing that much more tragic.
But by the end of the book, after we've had all the fun and the heartache, there's a sweet non-resolution, not wrapping things up too neatly, because when is life ever neat, but with the promise and hope of healing.