This strong novel tackles questions of responsibility and abandonment, duty and fear, almost-good-enough and too-good-to-abandon as Sky’s narrative is punctuated with Josh’s often-anguished thoughts.
Have you known a serviceperson who returned from war-front duty unchanged?
My book talk: As Skylar endures one last summer before college, her growing attraction to a young Marine disabled overseas and her mother’s inability to cope with life could strand the teen artist in her rural California hometown.
Math-genius Chris and artistic Sky have vowed to escape this agricultural backwater, heading for opposite coasts on big scholarships in just a few months. It’ll be hard leaving best friend Dylan (who’s never known that Chris adores her) and her baby, but it would be unbearable to stay in Creek View.
Sky and Chris drop by the as-usual-drunk weekend party to welcome home her former co-worker just returned from Afghanistan, but no one told her that brash, womanizing Josh had left his leg behind, as well as his self-confidence.
Counting down the days until she leaves for college, Sky is stunned when Mom loses her fast-food job and crawls back into the booze bottle where she’d retreated for so long when Dad died in a drunk-driving wreck.
Josh begins working at the Paradise hotel with Sky again, between therapy appointments, and they fall into an uneasy companionship that could become something more. Motel-owner Marge’s son died in the war before she moved here, so she understands when Josh suddenly freezes as a car backfires nearby.
The parts are coming together in the collage that Sky’s creating for Marge – more of the ‘California quirky’ that’s making the Paradise its own destination – but Sky can’t put her mom’s life back on track, can’t figure out where she and Josh fit into one another’s lives, and can’t see how she can give up her dreams or go after them either. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)