Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fan of love triangles, particularly those involving brothers. Bleurgh. However, the author has a rather compelling writing style that kept me turning the pages. Furthermore, there were a number of aspects of the story that I admired.
Firstly, the writer makes a point of emphasising the double standard that exists whereby girls are vilified and called sluts/whores/[insert misogynistic term of your choice here] when they cheat/screw up/exercise sexual agency, while guys get away with minimal harm to their reputation. As one of the brothers points out, it takes two to tango. However, Molly, our MC, takes the brunt of the snide comments, insults and overall bullying that results from her past actions, while Gabe remains unaffected. I certainly felt the utter isolation that Molly experiences when she returns from a year-long stint at boarding school to a small town where everybody knows what happened and virtually shun her.
I also liked how this wasn’t a typical girl-torn-between-two-loves story – Molly struggles with her feelings that remain for her ex, Patrick, while juggling the confusing affection/lust/like for Gabe. Neither of them are presented as perfect options – Gabe often manipulates to get his way, while Patrick can be incredibly dismissive of other people.
However, I simply couldn’t abide the fact that Molly continues to mess around with the two brothers and hurt friends that become collateral damage. I don’t particularly care about your confusing feelings – it’s simply an incredibly crappy thing to do. Make a choice, or remove yourself from the equation – but continuing to lie and yes, cheat, makes you the shmuck this time around.
Also, a mom who writes a bestselling novel based on her daughter’s relationship screw ups? WHO DOES THAT?!
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ from the final edition.