Genre: Historical Fiction, Young-Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: November 14, 2014
Everything is so completely wrong with this one that the number of 5 stars it’s gotten makes no sense. I mean, it’s not even a case of subjectivity. There’s genuinely something wrong with the novel that’s got nothing to do with opinions. But before I get into that, the synopsis (part of the GR one because I simply can’t be bothered to write one for myself):
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Miller doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when she begins her first day at the one-room-school house in her new hometown of Rocky Knob. But when she meets seventeen-year-old Tucker O’Shay—the boy with the fatal illness who volunteers to tutor her in algebra—she finds herself swept up in a friendship that changes the way she sees the world.
Now, to the thing that’s wrong; the writing. It’s not bad writing in general. It’s dull and has very little emotional impact, which insures that you don’t connect to, or feel much for, the characters, but it’s perfectly comprehensible. Where it went so very wrong is that doesn’t sound like a historical at all. I can almost forgive the prose because it does seem like the author is trying, even though it’s not good enough, especially for a novel in first person; but how can one ignore dialogue like this:
“I’m sorry you got suckered into this.”
“I’ll talk to my folks.”
“I don’t want to be a complete dunce when I can finally say ‘I knew you when’.”
I mean, I wasn’t alive in 1885, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t talk like that back then. And the author must know that. I guess she didn’t care enough to do it right. Her attempts at making it historical included frequent use of the word “ladylike” and mentioning Church a lot. Public attitude toward a sick boy was better but not better enough.
This is an easy and immediate entry into my will-never-give-more-than-two-stars list. If other aspects of the novel had been good, I wouldn’t have rated it at all. But that was not the case here.
The story is nothing we haven’t heard before. We’ve read plenty of versions of the same thing. The characters got lost in the dull writing and had little personality. The author was going for the dying-boy-teaches-girl-how-to-live trope but it wasn’t executed properly. The romantic relationship just… happened. It was forced. I didn’t care for the characters at all. And the author seemed to be trying to put as much depth into a 150 pages as possible but failed to even tell a good coming-of-age story.
There was moments that made me smile and there were lines in the end, about love and pain and how they relate, that I liked. But they didn’t have as much of an impact as they would’ve had if I’d been more invested in the book, emotionally or otherwise.
Overall, whether you’re a historical fiction fan or a contemporary romance fan, this is not a novel that I would recommend.