If you think you know what this book is about, think again. If you think you can guess where the story might take you, think again. If you think you have any idea of how monumental of an impact this book is going to have on you, think again. There is nothing predictable or cliché about this storyline or its characters. This is possibly the most originally daring and skilfully executed plot I have come across in a very long time. I walked out of this experience dishevelled, emotionally bulldozered, feeling like I had just been shot out of a cannon. Bruises and all. And I loved every single moment of it.
This is the story about a bright little star in the endless sky that is life. Sky is a seventeen year old girl, an ordinary girl with a somewhat sheltered life up to that point, with the usual teenage issues, but with a personality that reflects her lack of intense social interaction. Sky is honest, loving, devoted and loyal, she often speaks her mind without weighing her words too much, she does not try to conform but rather embraces her uniqueness. The only thing that is different about Sky is her reaction to intimate touch – Sky blanks out, completely blocking out all feelings and emotions, and her mind drifts to her happy place where she is counting stars in the sky and waiting until the experience is over. Having no vivid memory from her past that could have caused her such a reaction, she accepts it as her body’s innate inability to ‘feel’ anything when she should be feeling everything.
After being home-schooled her whole life, Sky decides to spend her last year of high school among her peers. She is quickly thrown into a teenager’s version of Hell with rumours, spitefulness, envy, pranks, marginalisation becoming daily occurrences in her life. But none of it touches Sky as she was not raised to let those things matter to her. She brushes it all off, completely ignoring the rumour-mill and focusing on those people in her life who see her for whom she really is.
And then one day she meets Holder, a boy that comes with his own set of rumours and warning bells. Everything about their first encounter confuses Sky – his reaction to her, the unusual questions he asks her, but above all, her body’s reaction to him. He seems to ignite the flame in her that she always believed not to have.
“… how have I not seen him before? How could I not know I lived less than three miles from the only boy in existence who can turn me into a ball of frustrated hot-flashes?”
The more time they spend together, the more her need for him becomes physical. In one of the most beautifully woven tales of falling in love for the first time and falling in lust for the first time, we watch a delightful game of seduction between two souls that seem to naturally gravitate towards each other.
“I feel like I had that with you the moment we met. Everything about us is so natural. It feels like we’re already there, and we’re trying to go backward now. Like we’re trying to re-get to know each other by slowing it down.”
Holder is gentle, patient, loving towards her. Their falling in love with each other is so exquisitely paced – we feel every heartbeat, every skipped breath, every nuance in their growing connection. He awakens her body, makes her feel loved and cherished, and by doing so, breaks the barriers in Sky’s mind.
“Sky, I’m not kissing you tonight but believe me when I tell you, I’ve never wanted to kiss a girl more. So stop thinking I’m not attracted to you because you have no idea just how much I am. You can hold my hand, you can run your fingers through my hair, you can straddle me while I feed you spaghetti, but you are not getting kissed tonight. And probably not tomorrow, either. I need this. I need to know for sure that you’re feeling every single thing that I’m feeling the moment my lips touch yours. Because I want your first kiss to be the best first kiss in the history of first kisses.”
But this is not what this story is all about.
In one of the most unexpected plot twists ever manoeuvred, we are suddenly thrown out of the water, gasping for air, wondering when Ms Colleen Hoover became such a literary rally champion and why we weren’t at the crowning ceremony! I don’t care how much imagination you have, you will never guess where this story takes us. It is compelling, it is emotional and it is real. This happy ending comes with a hefty price to pay and I was happy to pay with every single tear I shed.
The second part of the book will have you holding your breath, gripping your chair, biting your nails until they hurt. It is everything a good book should be like and then so much more. Sky and Holder will intertwine themselves into your heart so deeply that you will never want to let them go. This is a story of indescribable courage, perseverance, pure unadulterated love, but also all the ugliness that life sometimes brings as well. It will change you, transform you, move you, kick you, heal you, make you believe. It is a must-read for anyone with a pulse.
On a starry night, look up in the sky and count the stars – THAT is how many stars this book deserves!
“The things that knock you down in life are tests, forcing you to make a choice between giving in and remaining on the ground or wiping the dirt off and standing up even taller than you did before you were knocked down. I’m choosing to stand up taller. I’ll probably get knocked down a few more times before this life is through with me, but I can guarantee you I’ll never stay on the ground.”