February 5, 2015

I'll Meet You There - Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You There book cover
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co., BYR
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

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 & the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. After graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—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, the sophomore contemporary YA novel from Heather Demetrios, is majorly impressive. Skylar’s story (and Josh’s too) is a powerful combination of raw emotion and real honesty, no holds barred. Though it’s not an easy read and will break your heart once or twice, I’ll Meet You There is also threaded with just the perfect amount of hope. Demetrios’ work is of top notch quality, and her excellent storytelling is proof that she is going to be a fixture in the world of YA.

I’ll Meet You There is about Skylar, who longs to escape her small hometown for greener pastures. She’s all set to leave everything behind – until disaster strikes in the form of a crappy home situation. As Skylar attempts to figure out what she can (and should) do in response, she’s also got another distraction in the form of Josh, a Marine who has returned from the war with both physical and mental injuries. It sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Yet Demetrios weaves her plot well, making sure to balance the coverage for each part of Skylar’s life and even letting readers in on Josh’s thoughts. The novel is easy to read, with great pacing to boot, and readers will be unable to stop turning the pages in order to find out what happens next.

A few plot points are very nearly over the top in terms of drama, but it works for I’ll Meet You There. After all, there’s a lot of shitty things that Skylar and Josh are trying to overcome. And they’re both so young still! So, it makes sense to have them react with such intense vitriol, pain or joy to everything. Reading about each of their internal struggles is probably what made me most emotional during I’ll Meet You There, as these are things I too have felt (though not in the same circumstances).

But the plot and the feels would not have mattered if I didn’t love these characters. And boy, do I have a lot of love for Skylar and Josh! Skylar is just so strong, stubborn enough to work hard so she can build a better life for herself. Her sacrifices, her values, her ability to stand up for herself, her regard for relationships – it’s all too easy to see myself being friends with this girl.* And then, you have Josh, who doesn’t have the most likeable habits, but does have a good heart and a measure of vulnerability. He’s just so gosh darn complicated, but in spite of that, he’s also so irresistible. And the fact that they’ve been friends and coworkers since before Josh left for the war, and before they started developing feelings beyond that? Well, it’s not surprising I wanted them to be together. 

As if two great main characters weren’t enough, Demetrios also liberally sprinkles I’ll Meet You There with a wonderful cast of secondary characters. Skylar’s mother, who is highly emotional and does what she thinks is best for her situation. Marge, Sky & Josh’s boss, who is like a second mother to them both. Josh’s family, who care about Josh but don’t know how to deal with his reaction to the tragedy he has faced. Josh’s fellow Marines, a little family unit away from home who are like brothers to Josh. Skylar’s best friends, Chris (who also longs for escape) and Dylan (who is content with what she has). Seriously, the people in this story are well-written and multi-dimensional, which is something that deserves appreciation.

I’ll Meet You There is, without a doubt, a contemporary novel that I could revisit again and again. Demetrios’ ability to spin a good yarn and her uncanny way of crafting characters so real that they pop off the page really shine in Sky and Josh’s story. Well worth the time to read, and gets a strong recommendation from this reader.

What's your favorite creative outlet?

All my life, writing has been my favorite form of expression. I find it soothing to just let my thoughts pour out into a notebook or Word file, whether it is a 3AM stream of consciousness type of thing or an actual story I'm working on. It helps me destress, and it also challenges my imagination and vocabulary! So, I would definitely say writing is my favorite creative outlet.


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