After stealing our hearts with her sexy rock stars and bartenders in the Stage Dive and Dive Bar series, Kylie Scott returns with a book that is a game changer for her, showing once again just how talented and multifaceted her craft truly is. A relevant, inspiring, staggering tale in many ways, this is the story of two young people who become inextricably tied to one another by a single moment in time that rewrites their fates forever and changes them irreversibly. With her signature wit and casualness of expression, Scott delivers a relatable coming-of-age story that blends seamlessly themes of friendship and first time love, with more serious subject matters like death, bullying, body image, and self-perception. I struggled to put this book down, missing the story when I wasn’t reading it, and would recommend it in a heartbeat.
If someone your own age could die, then what’s saving you?
When seventeen-year-old Edie Millen decides to go on a midnight run for fast food snacks dressed in nothing but her pyjamas and flip-flops, she never could have imagined that her life would change so quickly in the middle of a rundown neighbourhood convenience store. Caught in a robbery and held at gunpoint, those long moments spent choking on fear and helplessness put her entire life in perspective, but amid the stench of cheap cigarettes, blood and desperation, a shared bond of survival is forged between two people who would have most likely never met otherwise. A boy and a girl become forever bound by the memories of a night of terror they will never forget.
Why do we get to live while they died?
Having walked away from a near-death experience leaves Edie with intense feelings of disconnection from her own life and everyone in it, her new-found rebellion eventually driving her to change schools and leave old friends behind. But even a fresh start does not change the way Edie now perceives the world around her, seeing no real significance in the banality of everyday life and no way out of the heavy blackness that fills her dreams.
…none of it really mattered. I knew what mattered now. What was life and death. Everything else was just bullshit everyday details.
Even with new friends helping her navigate the wilds of her new high school and adding a new normalcy to her young life, Edie’s reservedness remains in place with everyone except John—the boy she feels forever indebted to and the only person in the world who truly understands what they’ve both lived through. But while John is now on a path of redemption and restoring his less than stellar reputation, Edie seems to have embraced her inner rebel and is determined to never be a victim again.
He was beautiful and I . . . I was nothing. An out-of-her-depth girl who wore too much black and feared the bulk of society.
Against all odds, their friendship slowly grows and their bond becomes a source of comfort and support for them both, but when friendship lines start getting blurry and are eventually crossed, Edie and John must decide if their young love is real or just a knee-jerk reaction to their shared ordeal.
“How do you think it ends?”
“How does it end?”
“You want us to break up?”
“No! Of course not. I was just wondering.”
“You’re thinking spontaneous combustion or death by random chicken attack, aren’t you? That sort of thing?”
For a book with such deep themes, this was an easy read, told in an entertaining narrative that draws us along like a conversation with a close friend. But it’s also a thought-provoking novel that left me feeling satisfied as well as reply moved. Edie was a complex heroine for me to fully connect with at first, her self-deprecating humour acting as a shield for her insecurities and hang-ups, but once I understood her in all her funny, awkward, relatable beauty, I felt extremely drawn to her personality. This was a decidedly different direction for this author, but one that felt right from the start, and resulting in a sensitively told, gripping, angst-ridden, optimistic tale of love, life, death, fate, and self-empowerment—a story that will undoubtedly appeal to readers of all ages.
“He’s the only one who gets what it was like that night. And afterward.”