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Carolina and Trevor begin their freshman year at a new high school. Carolina is determined to make the right friends and impress her bestie’s older, more sophisticated sister. Trevor, new in town and resentful of the issues causing his family to relocate, has no expectation to enjoy his new school. Then he meets Carolina. The two fall head over heels and soar into the glory of first love.
As their feelings deepen, they spend more and more time alone, and kissing leads to touching leads to more. But their professed love and belief that they are each other’s soul mates may not be enough to bind the two together when Trevor keeps a secret and Carolina makes a mistake.
Gottfred captures the roller coaster ride of hormones and emotions. Carolina and Trevor’s relationship has its own gravity which pulls even their personalities into orbit around it. Though Carolina was almost obnoxiously perky at times, Trevor’s brooding temper and deep family issues kept the story from becoming trite. He experienced many of the story’s powerful moments, from the lesson on falling in love vs. being in love to the realization that long term relationships create their own baggage and become difficult. We watch the two believe wholeheartedly in the infallibility of their love and the power of being soul mates to cement their relationship for all time. And then life happens. Lies. Mistakes. Suddenly love isn’t so easy or so permanent. Gottfred really captured those moments and ideas well.
What fell flat for me was the ending. There’s this moment where I felt like the thread unraveled. I agreed with the plot of the ending. It needed to be that way. But after this long, powerful buildup, there was this moment where I felt like the characters kind of just dropped all the emotion and said, “The End,” and that was it. I also struggled with the story when the parents were being unfaithful. I felt like that revelation didn’t carry enough gravity and enough emotional fallout. I felt like it should have affected Carolina and Trevor more individually and as a couple.
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.
Explicit sexual content. The language used to describe the encounters is mild as opposed to erotic language, but the experiences are described in detail. Carolina and Trevor have little experience with the opposite sex when they begin dating. They spend a LOT of time behind a locked basement door exploring each other’s bodies and developing a sexual relationship. It’s steamy stuff, but it’s also fraught with the kind of awkwardness that one expects from inexperienced lovers.
Reading the book, I felt like it may be that the author wrote it with this level of specificity as a way to encourage teens who were active or experimenting with sex that many of the uncertainties and insecurities are common. I’m not a fan of explicit sex in teen fiction. I want to say a lot more about my thoughts on this as an approach to teen fiction, but I really think I need to save it for another post.
Trevor and Carolina also deal with feelings about their parents being unfaithful spouses.
I liked that Gottfred showed a spectrum of response to teen relationships. While Carolina and Trevor are pretty serious and heavy with each other, one of Carolina’s friends doesn’t date at all because her parents have set rules against it. One of Carolina’s other friends seems to be hooking up with random boys at parties. There are boys like Trevor, who wants to treat Carolina well in terms of not pressuring her and trying to reciprocate pleasure to her. Another boy pressures Carolina and really only cares about receiving satisfaction himself. Despite the explicitness, I did respect that this wasn’t a tale that painted everyone as getting into everyone else’s pants.
What was really weird, too, was that reading the explicit parts, I actually felt a bit like a creeper. Carolina and Trevor are so young, and they SOUND SO YOUNG. Eep. It was like walking in on a younger sibling and feeling like okay, now I need to forget I ever saw that! I don’t know if it’s because I’m not in the target age range or too old to read this stuff or what. I normally don’t weird myself out reading romantic YA, but this really felt weird to me.
Trevor and another boy get into a fist fight.
Several scenes show teens drinking alcohol.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.