* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Release Date: July 20th 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.
But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.
I’ve not been reading as much lately but when I started this book I really didn’t want to put it down. The voice in it is spot on and you can’t help but fall in love a bit with River, even as he makes mistake after mistake.
The story starts when River is dumped by long term girlfriend Penny and he feels as if his life is over. When he sees a sign for a ‘Second Chance’ he jumps at it and finds himself in a support group for troubled teens. When he realises that these kids have real problems – eating disorders, drug addiction etc – he fakes a marijuana addiction, continues to go to the meetings and quickly falls in love with a girl there.
I was a bit torn on how I felt about River and his problems sometimes. Obviously when put up against the teens at the support group his problems seem like nothing. But I think things like this are relative – there’s always someone going through something worse than you, but your problem is always going to feel like the worst thing in the world, because you’re the one going through it.
River made a lot of mistakes as the book went along, and I cringed at each lie that made his story go deeper and that I knew would eventually have to be confessed in the end. That kind of thing actually makes me really anxious. I hate confrontation so I dread that bit when they get discovered! River managed to turn things around though, with a lot of apologising and making up, and I was glad things turned out okay for him. There was a bit of a twist, of kinds, which I saw coming miles away and kind of can’t believe River didn’t, but it’s all explained in his own kind of selfishness so I forgave that.
There’s a lot of YA around where the protagonist has serious problems, falls in love and that solves everything. I thought this book might be going the same way but it’s much more sensible than that, and I really appreciate it. River grows a lot in this short book and part of it is realising that he doesn’t need a girl to complete himself, that it’s okay to deal with your problems on your own and a partner isn’t going to solve everything for you.
This was a really fun read with such a great cast of characters. I had a real soft spot for River’s sister, who is just adorable. This is a definite must read and the perfect short book for a fun summer read.