“Goodness is your virtue. Quiet beauty your weapon.”
I had this on my TBR for a while now and, I don't really know why I hadn't read it. It’s absolutely perfect in every way.
Why a book with no HEA… yet is perfect? Well because the story is gripping, heartwarming, heart wrenching, consuming, achingly beautiful and very well written.
On the one hand we have a teenager, soon to be an 18 year old woman. She is a normal girl, pretty, goes to school, has friends and regular, healthy family dynamics. Maggie!
On the other hand we have a teenager, soon to be an 18 year old man. He’s the new guy at school, handsome, mysterious, mercurial, a loner but very sweet. Clayton!
Make them literally crash into each other, throw a friendship into the mix, then the lightest of touches… a kiss and BOOM! These souls just merge and create and all-consuming first love that lets you remember what it was to fall in love as a teenager. Unfortunately it also makes you remember that at such young age, you don’t have the maturity level to make life changing decisions.
I loved Maggie, she was smart, sweet, funny and a very good girl, completely normal. Her POV was superbly written, I felt inside her head and most importantly it was the mind of a 17 year old. She was mature enough but she questioned herself, her decisions and the choices she makes are realistic. Did I mention she’s funny….
“Cue the violins and happy cartoon bunnies; I was in the middle of a Disney moment. Because this guy was gorgeous.”
“There went those stupid butterflies in my stomach again. I wish I could squash them.”
Maggie and clay first become friends; she is inexplicably drawn to him and she pursues a friendship with him. I really liked the buildup and was relieved not to be in an insta-love story. Clay shows little of himself in the beginning but, layer by layer, bit by bit Maggie is able to remove the walls; she is the only one he opens to, she’s the only one who knows the real Clay, his soft, sweet happy side and also his scary darkness. She thinks her love will help him heal, that it will make the bad go away, but she is very wrong.
Clay is finally somewhere he feels safe, a place that gives him some peace. He finds solace and love in Maggie, he finds beauty, friendship, but he also finds jealousy and the dark emotions loving someone so fiercely arise in him. She becomes his anchor, she becomes the only thing that keeps him at bay. He believes love is enough, but he is also wrong.
This book addresses mental illness in a very realistic way. It makes you think and understand that there are people who suffer this on a daily basis and that LOVE and support, and medical care are the only things that will help your loved ones have a chance of a normal life. My heart ached for Clay constantly. I saw a boy struggling to love, to fit in, to feel normal; I also saw a boy struggling with mixed emotions, with the lack of love from his parents and the consequences of pure and utter neglect. I HATED his parents with passion, I really did.
“When you’re in a room, Maggie, all I see is you. You make everything better. Clearer. You stop the crazy noise in my head. I can think, hell, I can breathe when we´re together. What you make me feel is the most unbelievable and scary thing I´ve ever felt.”
“This is forever, Maggie. I would follow you into hell is I had to.” ….. “You are all I want for the rest of my life.”
But this relationship was roses & thorns. They had beautiful moments together, but then things would escalate, go bad; they started having problems due to Clay’s mood swings and the constant apologies Maggie has to accept. But Maggie was relentless, she refused to give up on him, she refused to turn her back just like everyone else, she loved him and cared for him and wanted to help him with such passion, that for a moment she couldn’t understand what he really needed aside from her love.
“I worried for a moment, as I fell asleep, that his love would eat me alive.
“I thought about Clay whispering how much he loved me and how he wanted to be with me forever. And I, in my naïve, young-adult mind, thought that it would happen. That, of course, Clay and I could overcome anything and we would follow each other into the sunset.”
I also need to mention the supporting characters. Rachel and Danny were amazing loyal friends and I loved them. Maggie’s parents were also amazing, the best ever: kind, fair, lovable; they gave Maggie a hard time but it was completely understandable and in the end they understood and supported their daughter in every way.
The book doesn’t end with a cliffhanger per se, it ends were it needs to end; the way it should end. And I can’t wait to start reading book 2. I hope these two get their HEA…. It would be soon, and they would be too young for a real HEA…. That’s my opinion, but I need the Disney ending.. period.. THEY freakin deserve it.