Summary: Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan. Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis. While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from. As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
Holy wow, did I love this book. It sucked me in and didn’t let go. I finished it two days ago and I am still thinking about it. And I will never ever be able to listen to “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift again without thinking about Harper and Declan. (Not because the song is referenced in any way – it’s just perfect for them!)
Harper is such a realistically drawn character – a girl who is lovable and sometimes hate-able, conflicted and yearning for connection, and sometimes selfish and self-destructive. The what-was and what-could-have-been and what-could-be between her and Declan is palpable, and I couldn’t stop reading. As powerful as the romance is, though, this book succeeds because it is about more than just a girl trying to get her ex-boyfriend back. Harper has to navigate so many pitfalls of growing up in a society that does little service to strong girls, and in Martin’s capable hands, the story wraps itself around the reader’s mind and heart.
I’d love to see Emily Martin on a panel someday beside Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (author of FIRSTS) and Shannon M. Parker (author of THE GIRL WHO FELL) for a frank discussion of writing about young women finding their way through the minefield of modern girlhood.