source: galley from Penguin
publication: August 18, 2015, Dial Books
This is going to be a very vague review because if I get into details, major spoilers will happen. Spoilers that are central to the plot and yet are not explicitly named in the synopsis, so I would feel bad about putting them out there.
As far as characters go, I think this is Huntley Fitzpatrick's strongest book yet. Tim Mason's problems may be a little far-fetched for some of us—he is, for all intents and purposes, a responsible guy, and yet somehow he is an alcoholic drug addict with a penchant for one-night stands. Everything that he could screw up in his life, he does. At the start of this book, he's been clean for a few months and attending AA meetings... and he's only seventeen years old.
So, yeah. A little bit out there. The teenage alcoholic thing doesn't always work. But with Tim, for good reason, it does. Disbelief goes out the window when you read about Tim's relationship with his father. His father has no concept of how to be a supportive parent and his mother hides from conflict, so it's no wonder their kids don't respect themselves when their parents don't respect them either. The thing about Tim is that he feels responsible for everyone but himself, because he's been told so many times by his father that his mistakes have erased everything about him worth saving.
Alice also feels responsible for everyone but herself, but that's because she has no time for herself. She's been taking care of her six younger siblings since the car accident in My Life Next Door and no one's made her a life raft to keep herself afloat. She goes out with boys who don't matter because she cannot let another person into her life who does.
Except, of course, that Tim Mason now lives in her family's garage apartment, and even though he's The Boy Most Likely to Have Even More Problems than Alice, their relationship works. I liked them together a lot better than I remember liking Samantha and Jase, just because they're both so imperfect and it's not effortless, but at the same time it's the easiest thing in either of their lives.
Now, all of that said, I did have issues. Certain scenes seemed out of place—maybe that will get fixed in editing, as I read an extremely early copy—and certain things I just felt didn't need to happen. There's a moment where Alice has a panic attack and had apparently had a previous one during the course of the book that we didn't see, so it felt a little jarring. I did not notice any indication that she had an anxiety disorder, so it was kind of "extra" in my opinion. There was also too much focus on... let's just say biological things. Without spoilers, certain aspects felt extremely tangential to the story, and one part in particular had me screaming "TOO MUCH INFORMATION."
Fitzpatrick also has this habit of writing incomplete sentences that grated on me after a while (I remembered this from her previous books as well). Narrators will drop the "The" or the "I" from the beginning of an expository sentence as if they're chatting with someone, and it just feels wrong to me outside of dialogue. I'm sure a lot of people won't notice this, but I was ready to start wielding a red pen.
So yeah. I loved Tim and Alice as characters, didn't love the pacing or all the plot points, and could have used more complete sentences. But it was a satisfying read and I'll be looking forward to her next book.