Published by Macmillan on February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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’ll meet you there with tears on my face because of this book.
Holy shit the tears and the feels in this one. I couldn’t go five pages without having some sort of pang of emotion in my chest from something the characters did or said or felt. I’ll Meet You There is just a bundle of ups and downs tied up in a shiny package with an amazing cover.
From the very first page, and I mean the very first page, you’re smacked in the face with the grittiness of the story and of their town. We always hear about the small town girls, but Creek View wasn’t even really a town. It’s one of those highway stops you’re usually terrified of stopping by, the ones that seemed drowned in dust and isolation. There wasn’t anything nostalgic or whimsical about the lives they were forced into; it was actually pretty terrifying, especially for a girl who’s grown up in the suburbs all her life.
To be honest, I’ve never felt the urgency of characters vying to get out of their home towns. It made for intriguing and sometimes heartbreaking stories, but I chalked it up to teenage angst. But Skylar’s situation is…extreme. Her desperation to escape is palpable and easy to empathize and understand. There are nights when she has barely anything to eat except a plane cracker or two. When she has to struggle over the decision to buy $2 pasta. When she has to sleep in her car. It’s a terrifying reality that there are hundreds of people living like that, and Demetrios doesn’t back down from the nitty gritty. We’re exposed to the ugliness of the lifestyle, but we also see the things that aren’t so bad (and while they’re few and far between, they’re there).
As for the characters…oh my dear sweet lord. They were all, all, so complex and beautiful. Skylar, Josh, Chris, Dylan. At least three more characters whose names I can’t recall at this moment. Each of them had such distinct personalities and desires and emotions and it was just gorgeous. Skylar and Josh, especially. Both of them are so broken by their home town that they don’t really know what’s right or wrong anymore–only the burning desire to get out. It’s absolutely heartbreaking how flawed they were, too.
Josh’s story is told in 1-2 page snippets. They’re short and they show up every two chapters or so, but they tell so freaking much. Demetrios packs so much emotion into the few words that Josh gives to the story and it’s amazing how she differentiates between her two characters so clearly. Josh isn’t perfect–he’s far from it. Even after he’s matured from the war, he’s still crass and his jokes are sometimes stupid. He spouts some homophobic and racist crap at times, but seems to cringe every time it comes out of his mouth. His memories seem to make him, and half the time he acts like a ghost. But it makes Josh Josh and makes him such a fantastical character that just knocks down your heart and storms in, ready to make you cry in an instant.
Skylar acts like she’s high and mighty. She’s getting out, and she seems to make sure everyone knows it. That’s what every one of her friends seem to say, at least. She’s kind and caring and understands the burn in Josh to escape, but she’s far from perfect. Very far from perfect.
Together though, the two just act like they can brave the world. Not take over it or rule it because heavens know what that would do to them, but they manage to survive it together. Josha nd Skylar together was…gah. Feels, guys. All the feels. The story was centered around the romance, and I loved that, but even there, it felt like there was just something…more to the story. Basically, though. The romance? Yes.
There’s a lot to be said for a story that can evoke the pain and emotion that I’ll Meet You There did so effortlessly. It’s a gorgeous story filled with raw moments and aching truths that make you want to run away and characters that you want to comfort. It’s…heartbreaking.