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And of course you NEED the sequel!
“This book is for anyone who has ever lost a loved one, for anyone who has woken up crying and gone to bed the same way, for anyone who has had to learn that it’s okay to not be okay. Surviving isn’t strength, it’s continuing to breathe one day at a time; strength is learning to live despite the pain.”You know from the synopsis what’s going to happen. You know from page one it’s coming.
I wasn't always in love with Colton Calloway; I was in love with his younger brother, Kyle, first. Kyle was my first one true love, my first in every way.Best friends and inseparable from birth, Kyle and Nell spent the first 16 years of their lives growing up together. Then suddenly, they see each other in a new and exciting light. So their relationship takes a turn:
Then, one stormy August night, he died, and the person I was died with him.
Colton didn't teach me how to live. He didn't heal the pain. He didn't make it okay. He taught me how to hurt, how to not be okay, and, eventually, how to let go.
“And now we’re learning how to fall in love together. I don’t care what any one else says. I love you. I’ll always love you, no matter what happens with us in the future. I love you now and forever. - Kyle”And even though that seed has been planted in the back of your mind, you can kind of forget the inevitable for a while. Because it’s a beautiful, poignant love story. A story of firsts. First best friend, first true love, first time. Jasinda Wilder’s exceptional writing poetically walks you through all those “firsts” and you feel them…potently. It’s sweet and beautiful and awkward and scary and lovely. The author’s writing is just THAT PHENOMENAL.
“Nothing mattered but the delirious joy of Kyle, of my first kiss, of making out with my best friend, the only guy I’d ever really cared about.”But then the inevitable occurs:
“You can't Nell. Just...hold my hand. I love you"It’s painful, heart wrenching, and tragic. It hurt. So very much! As much as it pained me to do so, I had to shut down my Kindle & walk away. My eyes were stinging and dreadfully blurry. I could barely focus on the words. Jasinda tugged on every possible raw, gut wrenching emotion. I was openly grieving for a fictional character.
“I wanted nothing more than to climb into the box with him and quit breathing, find him in whatever came after life.”The emotional intensity didn’t end there. It was a constant presence throughout the rest of the book. Nell couldn’t move on. She wouldn’t let the pain out. Then Colton shows up. And they have a connection.
“… it had felt too right, nestled in his arms. Too comforting. Too natural. Too much like home.”But…Colton is Kyle’s older brother who has been estranged from his family for years. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about him. I loved Kyle, a lot. But Kyle was gone. He shouldn’t have been gone but he was. And Nell really needed to heal. She was in a bad way, doing things that will rip your heart out and make your soul bleed. I wanted to help her heal. Colton wanted to help her heal. He understood her and wouldn’t give up on her. He taught her it was okay to not be okay.
“You can't hold it in forever," Colton said.
“Feel. Grieve. Let yourself feel the anger at the fact that he was taken from you. Feel the loss of him . Feel the sadness and the missing him. Don't block it out, don't cut so it stops, don't drink yourself numb. Just sit and let it all rip you apart. And then get up and keep breathing. One breath at a time. One day at a time. Wake up, and be shredded. Cry for a while. Then stop crying and go about your day. You're not okay but you're alive, and you will be okay, someday”Every page, every sentence, every second of this story was as painful as an open wound. I was constantly fighting back the tears (with no such luck). I hurt for Nell. I hurt for Kyle. I hurt for Colton. I was shattered. My heart was shredded. But eventually there was hope and healing.
“You don't ever really let go, though. You don't stop. You don't stop hurting, you don't stop loving. It doesn't go away, you just keep living and eventually shit gets pushed into the background of your life so it's not consuming you every day. And then one day you know you're okay. It still hurts, you still miss that person. And yeah, you forget the details. The way she smelled, the way her mouth tasted, how her skin felt, the sound of her voice. It's almost like a different life, a different person that loved her, was with her. But on a day-to-day level, you know you're okay. Sort of.”Colton was very different from Kyle. Colton was streetwise, dominating and fierce. And HOT! Tattooed, bad-boy HOT! (Yeah, I had to throw that in there.) There were some crazy steamy scenes between Colton and Nell. (Surprised the hell out of me!) But Colton and Nell really were perfect together. They found in each other a source of comfort and relief, a different kind of love than they previously had with those before them, and most of all they learned how to live again.
"But we have to learn to be free. We have to, Nell. Doesn't mean happy all the time, or okay all the time. It's okay not to be okay. I told you that, but I'm relearning it myself. But not being okay doesn't mean you stop living."This book blew me away, leaving me with a seriously intense book hangover from which I don’t know how to recover. I’ve lost sleep thinking about Kyle. I need to keep reminding myself that these are book characters. It’s the kind of story that’s very difficult to let go of and move on. It’s one of those books that will stay with me forever. If you like to feel, truly feel what you read, grab a box of tissues and a glass wine, get comfortable and pick up this book. It will be a cathartic experience, which I believe we all need every now and then.
“This next song goes out to the girl who shredded my heart without hesitation back in high school. It's called Ball Busting Bitch, and Lanie this one's for you.”As you can see, he was a real d*#k to Lanie. Sure, she broke his heart once upon a time, but did he have to be such an a$$ about it four years after the fact?! Grow up! Get over it! He had tons of women falling at his feet.
“Lane.” The way he says my name makes my toes curl. “I’m still crazy over you. I know it’s been a while, but it feels like just yesterday when you walked out of my life. When you left me, I was so empty. There was this huge, gaping hole in my heart that no one could fill. I tried to get over you. I really did, but you were always there. Every woman I kissed was you.”And then I fell! SWOON!!! I mean, O.M.G. This boy really laid all his cards out on the table for her to see.
“Everyone wants a piece of him.”Would she ever trust him? Could she ever trust him?
“The life of a rock star is unreal.”I understood her dilemma. But I still so badly wanted them together. His first real love. Her first real love. High school sweethearts. How romantic is that! If only she would listen to Aubrey, her best friend.
“You should be ecstatic right now. Reconnection with your first love is something people dream about and you’re getting that.”How many people actually get the chance to reconnect with their first true love?
“I don’t get where he gets off thinking he should be able to have his cake and eat it too because news flash, this cake store is fucking closed.”Then throw in some mystery and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker! I definitely had the feeling that Noel was hiding something and oh my, he sure was. The tension between Noel and Riff, one of his band mates was nearly tangible. And when the s*#t hit the fan, my heart broke for all of them. Add a skanky b*@#h to the mix and you have the makings of one helluva story.