The last place sixteen year-old Melissa Keiser wants to return to is Anna Maria Island. The echo of laughter and cruel taunts still haunt Missy, even after four years. Her best friend Julie insists that things will be different now, but Missy is afraid to believe her. Until popular Sam King begins to act as though Missy is completely irresistible. She struggles to understand Sam’s desire for her and his friend’s weird overprotective behavior toward her. Josh, it seems, won’t leave Missy alone to make her own mistakes. But when Missy pursues him, he pushes her away or describes his relationship with God, something Missy didn’t expect and can’t grasp. Just as Missy’s relationship with Sam seems ready to take off, tragedy strikes, spinning Missy into a downward spiral of loss and regret. Josh reemerges as her friend and companion, but can she count on him not to bail again when she needs him most?
“This story is actually about three boys. One who loved me.
One who couldn’t. And one who didn’t know how.”
Missy lives with her emotionally volatile mother, her brother Robby and her sister Crystal. Home life is unpredictable and explosive, which Missy makes use of to go where she pleases, when she pleases, often sneaking out at night or lying to her mother about where she’s going and when she’ll return. Missy’s story is peppered with moments of keen emotional insight and turmoil, though some of Missy’s realizations seem too far beyond her maturity level. Her spiritual conversations with Josh are at first sincere and different, but at times his explanations seem a little dense and formulaic. Still, Missy’s moment of conversion is genuine and as powerful as the emotional pain that make her such an easy character to connect with. Fans of Stephanie Morrill or Laura Anderson Kurk will enjoy this novel.
A couple pretty heavy make-out scenes, but no clothes removed. Missy’s mother brings men home pretty regularly. Missy doesn’t even know the names of some of them. Her mother makes no attempt to shelter Missy, her older brother, or their seven year-old sister from this behavior.
Missy discovers her quiet neighbor Josh spends much of his time (voluntarily) in church. This is somewhat perplexing to her, and she even pities him at first. He describes his faith openly, and even convinces her to attend church with him. A traumatic event gives Missy the courage to accept Josh’s faith as her own.
Missy was a victim of bullying in seventh grade, and she recounts some instances in which kids called her names and shoved her in the hallways.
Missy confronts her brother Robby about all the time he is spending with a boy who spokes pot. Missy and her friends attend various teen parties where alcohol is served. Missy drinks quite a bit of beer one night and is later sick. One character overdoses on an unspecified combination of drugs.
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