If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
I’m not going to lie – for the first 100 pages of this book, I thought about putting it down. It took me a week to read just those 100 pages, and I was not feeling invested in the characters at all – I just couldn’t fit myself into their voices. I couldn’t hear them in my head. I felt like their words were cliche and pedestrian.
And then something happened around page 120. A switch flipped. And then I realized that those cliched words? They were barriers. Here were two hard, broken shells of people, trying to navigate every day by acting as “normal” as they could. Here were two people who kept running at the first glimpse of good because they couldn’t believe that good was real or could last. And here were two voices that were crying out to each other, trying to break down the walls around each other, but it wasn’t working because they couldn’t even get past themselves.
That’s what Josh and Sky were for the first 120 pages for me. It was so hard to want anything of them, because their world just seemed overwhelming and difficult. Demetrios built a landscape and mood with her words that just felt stagnant. I felt like I was suffocating in the dry heat of Creek View, with no chance of getting out, like Skylar. I didn’t even care about Josh and Skylar together at first, because I just wanted them to be okay on their own.
And then, little by little, but I think right around the point that we really see Josh as someone who might have debilitating PTSD, but also when we see him as someone who believes that he can overcome that depression and scariness…that’s when I started to fall for him and Skylar. That’s when I started to see a lot more to this story, and how the walls they built around themselves could be chipped away with patience, understanding, and yes, love.
I read the final 280 pages in one day.
All the Feels: This is a book where there are constant feels. Little moments become huge. Struggles become magnified. And thus, in contrast, the beautiful perfect parts, when everything works out, those are moments of wonderful joy.
Army of Research: It’s impossible for me to talk about this book without talking about how much research and thought Demetrios put into the voices of the characters, especially Josh. She clearly spent a lot of time with former officers and it’s that that makes Josh’s character come alive.
Book Theme Song:
The Final Word:
Heather Demetrios’ first book, Something Real, slayed me, and this one is no different. Delving deeply into character and behaviour, Demetrios draws out Josh and Sky in a way that makes your love for them bloom like a desert cactus flower in tepid air. For me, I’ll Meet You There was a hard read, but one that’s raw, unique, and rewarding.
I’LL MEET YOU THERE comes out next week. Will you be picking it up? Are you an “all the feels” kind of reader? How do you feel about difficult reads? Are you okay with slow beginnings? Let me know in the comments!