Written by: Heather Demetrios
Published by: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: February 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
I’m really not one to get overly attached to contemporaries… There are a few notable exceptions (like Fangirl and This Song Will Save Your Life), but by and large, I’m more likely to love fantasy or sci-fi or something with a little magic thrown in.
Well, I’ll Meet You There must have some magic in there somewhere, because I. adored. it.
This is one of those books that is excellent from page 1. I literally remember reaching the end of the first page, and knowing it would be great. The characters immediately felt real, and that, for me, is a flashing beacon of HECK YES THIS BOOK IS GOING TO BE AMAZING.
Skylar Evans has dreamed of escaping from her dead-end town of Creek View her entire life. She’s landed a full scholarship to college in San Francisco, and she’s only three months away from saying so-long to her horrible town once and for all. But then her mom loses her job and starts drinking again, and suddenly Skylar is the only one trying to make ends meet.
Josh Mitchell is a Marine who has just returned home from Afghanistan, minus a leg, and suffering from PTSD and his own losses during the war — but doing his best to put his bad-boy/don’t-care persona back on in order to hide it.
I’ll Meet You There is told mostly from Skylar’s perspective, as she deals with her home life (which is falling apart), and trying to juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet, and trying to figure out what is up with Josh Mitchell and how the two of them could possibly be becoming such close friends — and maybe more. But it’s also interspersed with sections from Josh’s point of view, and we get small glimpses into the grief and loss, confusion and changes-of-heart he’s feeling as a result of his time in Afghanistan.
Josh and Skylar knew each other before Josh became a Marine, since they had worked together at the quirky little Creek View motel; but Josh was a very different person back then, and he and Skylar were definitely not friends. But when he returns, and he and Skylar start working together again, their friendship just seems inevitable. They just fit together, and even though their growing relationship is a slow process, and neither are immediately willing to share their problems with the other, they still hold each other up through what they’re both going through. It’s beautiful and often heartbreaking, and I loved every second of it.
It occurred to me that we were the same, in a way. Both of us treading water, pushing against forces we couldn’t control.
One thing that I truly appreciate about I’ll Meet You There was that this book dealt with serious issues — alcoholism, family problems, PTSD, grief, etc — but it never felt like one of those books that’s beating you over the head with those issues. It didn’t feel like a book that was written in order to deal with those issues, which can seem forced or contrived; it felt like a book written about characters who were suffering from those issues and who were trying to grow and work through them. There’s a big difference, and I felt it.
I also loved that I’ll Meet You There is filled with genuinely flawed characters. By which I mean, not characters who are totally amazing except for a few token flaws, but characters who are both good and who also make real mistakes and do some not-great stuff. People are rude, say mean things, fight, make wrong choices… They’re still growing and learning, but they’re still good people.
I’ll Meet You There honestly has some of the best character development I’ve seen in any contemporary I’ve read. I was just blown away. From the synopsis… I mean, the synopsis makes it sound great, but only if the author actually pulled off all that potential. I feel like there were a lot of ways this could’ve gone wrong, but it never did. So yeah. I think it’s safe to say Heather Demetrios pulled it off, and then some.
In fact, I don’t think there was a single character in this book who didn’t come out at the end of it very different than how they started. Whether that difference was in my own perception of them, and was a reflection of how much we learn about everyone as the book goes on — or if it was a reflection of their own growth throughout the book (which in 75% of cases, I think it was), it was just done so well.
I loved I’ll Meet You There. It’s absolutely a new favorite of mine, and I loved everything about it.
I loved that it’s Skylar’s story. And it’s also Josh’s story. And, of course, Skylar and Josh‘s story. (Seriously, these characters’ relationship… *melts*)
But in a greater sense, it’s also a story about how each person is going through different circumstances, and we each have to deal with them different ways. How sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we plan. How one person’s chosen path in life might be another person’s worst nightmare, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that either path is the wrong one. How even people who grow up together can grow apart — or come together when it’s least expected. How circumstances change people, for better or worse. And how, when you see something changing for the better, you should fight to hold on to that. And when you succeed… Well, if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.
PS: Heather Demetrios is doing some awesome things when people buy I’ll Meet You There this week! First, she’s donating $1 per book purchased this week to the Wounded Warriors Project (be sure to follow them on Twitter or Facebook, and check out Heather’s post for details). Additionally, if you order I’ll Meet You There by Feb 14, she’ll mail you a handwritten letter from Josh! I see nothing but win-win situations here. Buy this book!! I cannot recommend it enough.