This book is what I would call the ‘crème de la crème’ of the New Adult genre. With a simple premise, flawless execution and pretty impressive character development, we have a book that is so enthralling and addictive, I was hopelessly hooked from the very first scene, the very first internal monologue spoken by our fragile heroine. This is a story that will take you hostage for hours and leave you wishing for more.
Avery is a nineteen year old girl just starting college in a new city. Her painful past has made her move a thousand miles from home to start over, away from a place that treated her so poorly that she had no option but to escape and seek a new life where no one knew her. A horrific event that occurred when she was only fourteen years old changed the course of her life and ever since then Avery has been struggling to overcome the consequences of that single event. We gather very early on what our heroine’s trauma stems from. We do not spend half of the book deciphering hints or figuring out what must have happened to her. All the focus is on the aftermath, her coping mechanisms, how those hurtful events affected her ever since. The focus stays on her current state of mind and whether she would overcome the painful binds from her past. Her trauma occurred so early in her young life that she was not equipped to deal with the emotional repercussions, not to mention the lack of support and guidance from those people in her life that should have been her pillars of support. She has been dealing with her pain on her own, isolated, marginalized by her peers and blamed by her family. No one in her life offered her help and that emotional isolation has marked her deeply, making her the mistrustful and self-sufficient, but inherently frightened young woman that she is today. She believes that she is ruined forever, that no one would ever love her if they knew all that happened to her and that her fear would always be the driving force behind all her actions or inactions.
“I just didn’t know how much of this I was capable of. How far this— whatever it was— would actually go before old fears overshadowed the warmth.”
And then one day she runs into Cameron Hamilton, the local heartbreaker. He’s the kind of hero that makes you giggle unashamedly every time he opens his mouth. He is cocky but sweet, persistent but not forceful, demonstrative and funny, and from the moment he meets Avery, he won’t let her go. The more she pushes him away, the more he pursues her, patiently, gently, confidently. His friendly and approachable personality disarms every defensive bone in her body. His positive energy is like a force field that she cannot fight – he distracts her from her memories, reminds her of the happy girl she once used to be and makes her wish she could overcome her anxieties.
“There was just something about Cam that sort of made me forget everything except what was happening that very moment.”
Their story develops slowly, from sweet to passionate, quite fittingly considering the tough themes that this book tackles. This might be the grand love story between Avery and Cam, but its importance lays also in the way it explores some very difficult subjects with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. We are not given rushed resolutions or simplistic closures, nothing is sugar-coated or made easy. Avery struggles with her issues until the very end, it affects everything she does – we feel her agony, her heartbreak, her frustration with herself and deep disappointment with those closest to her. The main characters are believable, well-rounded and extremely likeable. They are damaged, affected by their past, but their imperfections are what makes them so exceptionally convincing.
Avery’s biggest struggle is opening up with Cam and trusting him with the secrets that she has kept for so long and which have destroyed every single thing she once valued in her life. However, her lack of trust is not in him but rather in herself – she believes her past would destroy them and make him treat her with the same disgust everyone else in her life has regarded her with for five long years. In order to let him in and allow herself to love him, Avery needs to trust their connection, his love for her and she needs to trust that her silence will never set her free. She has tried so hard to survive that she has forgotten how to live. Cam is not just the perfect guy who storms into her life and knocks her off her feet – he is her only lifeline.
“How can there be any future for us if you can’t be honest with me? If you can’t really trust that how I feel about you is strong enough, then we have nothing. This is the sh*t that ends relationships. Not the past, Avery, but the present.”
While I truly enjoyed this book cover to cover, I must mention that the only reason I am withholding a perfect rating is because of its frequent and obvious formatting issues. The frequency of omitted words or wrong words used throughout the text was distracting, enough to disrupt the flow of the story for me and put a bad taste in my mouth at times. It was a shame because this wonderful story did not deserve to be blemished that way.
But regardless of this, Avery and Cam’s breathtaking tale is one to remember. One to re-read. One to cherish.
“… then he kissed me— kissed me like he’d had right before he’d left the night of our date. Kissed me like he was a man starving for oxygen and I was the only air he needed to breathe. The hand around my neck held me there, raised up on my elbows as his mouth devoured mine. And that was the only word I could use to accurately explained how he kissed me. Cam devoured me.”