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Human connection? Who needs it?

Ever since she can remember, wealthy but weary Saige Armstrong has felt different from her peers in Pechimu, New Jersey. With only one good friend to her name, she has navigated the complicated halls of high school and is now faced with the timeless question: Now what?

Fox Harrington, a fun-loving, socially charismatic graffiti artist uses his passions to color his world exactly how he wants it. He knows exactly where his life is headed. That is, until he meets Saige.

A summer project links the two together, making a tentative friendship bloom into romance, but despite their affection for each other, fundamental beliefs and ways of thinking threaten to destroy all they have built.

In this tender story of young love, N.K. Smith delivers a striking tale of two people standing on the precipice of adult life.


BOOK REVIEW: Are You Mine?

N.K. Smith

RATING:

“Not everything has to be so serious, Saige.”
“Not everything has to be a joke, Fox.”

Opposites attract. Two people that are different in every single way and yet cannot resist the pull bringing them closer together. This is the story of Saige and Fox, two young people on the brink of adulthood, but with very different attitudes towards the unpredictable future before them.

Saige is not a people person. She does not enjoy spending time with people nor does she make any efforts to make others like her, her abrasive personality preventing her from making friends. But deep down this toxic persona that Saige uses as a protective façade is not the person she really is. Having lost both parents to violent deaths very early on in her childhood, Saige walks through life never committing to anything – people, feelings, plans, decisions. She made procrastination into an art form, choosing to be a bystander in her own life because she is too afraid of further loss and disappointment.

“It’s a cold hard fact that people suck, and those who don’t suck aren’t dependable anyway, so there is no use putting your hopes and dreams in them.”

Fox is the life of every party. His happy personality makes him everyone’s favourite person, his contagious positivity being his dominant trait. But Fox has his own crosses to bear, his mother’s mental illness leaving him helpless and heartbroken, and his learning disability making him feel ashamed of his own inadequacies. And yet, Fox is like a ray of sunshine, never dull and never not shining brightly when among people. He’s a good son, a reliable worker, a passionate artist, and when he meets Saige, he does not see her darkness like most people in her life, he sees a hurt young woman desperate not to get hurt again.

“Who hurt you?”
“No one hurt me.”
“You’ve never given anyone the chance, have you?”

What starts as a unlikely connection, slowly develops into a gentle romance. Saige fights Fox’s advances relentlessly and stubbornly, but the more time they spend together and the more of Fox’s inner sunshine she basks in, the more she cannot help but fall in love with him. He brings her out of her shell, forces her to face her own demons and finally think of her future. But this is not an easy battle for either of them – Saige’s loneliness and pain from losing her parents have affected her deeply and moulded her into someone who is so terrified of further loss that she would rather give up on happiness rather than risk losing it later on in the future.

“I guess I just want to be the one–”
“Who leaves this time?”

This is a story of learning to love oneself, of finding strength and courage to take risks even when life has given you only suffering, of making changes in oneself when you come across something or someone worth making the effort. Saige and Fox’s beautiful romance is a timeless lesson of human endurance and capacity to heal, a testament that there’s a Phoenix in all of us, ready to rise from the ashes and embrace life to the fullest. Ms Smith is a skilled wordsmith, her writing style is atmospheric, moving, inspiring. She writes with sincerity and heart, and every story she weaves is deeply emotional and personal. You feel every layer of the characters’ personalities, every dilemma and every heartbreak. I FELT this story, I lived this story and I loved every minute of it.

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“Underneath your hard, abrasive exterior and underneath my soft, friendly persona, we’re the same. You hide out and I let out. You go inside yourself, and I go outside myself, but apart from what’s out here,” I say, gesturing to her, myself, and our surroundings, “we’re just little kids wondering if anyone else understands what it’s like to lose the things we’ve lost.”

Excerpt

We only talk when he’s pointing something out to me, and I like that. There’s something almost magical dancing around us, like I’m inside a cloud nebula and we’re creating our own star. I think he feels it too. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I see twinkling in his eyes, like he’s looking at something special, like the vast, sparkling sky that hosts planets and stars.

But he’s just looking at me.

It makes me think that maybe I’m special, at least to him, and because of it, I feel special. Like I’m not just Saige, stuck in the merry-go-round of my little life, but like I’m half of something huge and awesome on the roller coasters of the unknown.

After I pitch my coffee cup, he takes my hand and uses his momentum to swing me, then presses me up against a building – I don’t know which one and I don’t care – and stares at me like I’m the only person in the world other than him.

The kiss is fantastic and generates heat from the core of my body that radiates out to my extremities. It’s a scary kiss because I know with every millisecond that passes, I’m more and more invested in him. This feeling I have – the feeling he gives me – is so deep and wondrous, I never want to let go of it.

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Natasha

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