My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I expected on first picking up this book —
A boy losing his voice in an accident and a love story where he wins his girl despite new obstacles originating from his own insecurities and social scrutiny. Basically a story about a boy learning not only to accept his disability but to triumph inspite of it. Heart warming stuff. I want to read!
What I got halfway through the book —
Everything I expected above PLUS a parallel emerging storyline about Sam – this girl he’s trying to win. He’s won her, but the real point of conflict isn’t that, it is the girl’s own life and the baggages that she has — does Jake have it in him to handle them and keep his girl?
What I decided I loved about the book by the time I flipped to the last page —
The writing style is comfortingly ‘young adult romance’, but I loved reading the story from Jake’s sole perspective. The girl he’s fallen for is complicated. Jake has plenty to deal with after the accident and he doesn’t realize for quite some time that life could have been so much harder. It’s through Sam that Jake realizes that losing his voice isn’t the end of the world. That he has a warm supportive family and friends who’re trying very hard to make everything go back to normal for him. That not everyone can say they have the same.
But knowing that theoretically and understanding that from a very close perspective are two different things. He knows he should be stronger, but it’s watching Sam that he understands how much strength life truly asks for sometimes.
I especially loved the ups and downs of their relationship. That Sam and Jake’s feeling deepened over the course of months, not days; that there was something beyond just shared interests and a few dates binding them. It was quiet support when things got desperate and laughter even when the spirits were down.
I think I would have ended up giving this book about three stars if all I got from it was what I had expected. But the author gave me two characters to invest my affections in and I rooted for them both and admired their individual strengths. I liked this book immensely. Just because it was from the boy’s perspective the narrative wasn’t made unnecessarily edgy or coarse. I never thought it was a woman’s voice narrating the story. It was Jake, denizen of a small island with a tiny population and the son of a mother who’d implanted an anti-cussing button in his head.
Don’t I have any complaints at all?
Now what kind of review would that be? =D
So here are the few things that I did stumble at. Jake had to write down almost everything he wanted to communicate in the first months after the accident. Now I have a hunch about human nature. When we get excited we tend to skip words to get the sentences out quicker. When we used to exchange notes in class, our hurried communications would skip formalities and read like –
ME: meet nxt period. 3rd flr. back stairs.
BEST FRIEND: why?
ME: band practise
BFF: Eng cls.
BFF: asgnmt due
ME: pretty plz!
BFF: get sspndd
You get the idea. =D But Jake here writes in long sentences. He keeps thinking that all conversations happened in slow motion around him now, but that didn’t shorten his written responses. He didn’t even ‘disemvowel’ his words like we do in text messages. Where’s the teenage impatience?
Next, the school ‘slut’ with a grudge against Sam and then later Jake. There was no reason for this girl to be part of the plot. She was one dimensional and simply there to serve one purpose, which was to give away Sam’s secret (though we never get to know how she found out).
Finally, I could see that the author meant the story to be a warning against indulging in drinks and drugs. My problem is that she doesn’t deal with this with the same finesse she used when exploring Jake’s disability and Sam’s situation. It just crops up randomly.
And that’s all, folks!
DISCLAIMER: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley.