This is a novel about young love, and how obsessive, and even dangerous, it can be. It tells the tale of a young woman (Emily) who died suddenly – seemingly as the result of a suicide pact that she had with her boyfriend (Chris), though he is alive and (for the most part) well. It’s an emotionally intense piece of literature, and one that gives a look into the hearts and minds of lots of well developed characters.
The character I felt most strongly for throughout this was Emily. While she dies right at the start of the novel, you afterwards get to see her life up until that point through a series of flashbacks. Although the ultimate reason for her death felt a bit off to me (for reasons not fully addressed), what I admired about her story was that it perfectly highlights the risk of not having the right support network in place for somebody. The lack of respect and understanding for her needs from everyone in her life felt so true to things I’ve seen happen to people I know.
Chris, meanwhile, is a typical teenage boy – and I don’t mean that he’s a negative stereotype of a teenage boy, but that he feels very believable. He’s a well-intentioned person and I felt very sorry for him because of the situation he’s been thrust into – but equally, I sometimes got very frustrated with him. Like most teenagers, he doesn’t make the right decisions in emotionally intense situations and he’s far too driven by sex. By the end of it, I wasn’t sure what to think of him, but I could totally believe him as a character.
Though those two characters are the ones at the heart of the novel, there’s also Chris’s mother, Gus, who I loved for being so endlessly devoted to her son, Emily’s father, Michael, who has a kind and thoughtful sort of nature, even after the loss of his daughter, and Jordan McAfee, Chris’s no-nonsense lawyer. There are others too, but these were my favourites, and one of the big strengths of this novel was that it is essentially built upon the interactions between lots of very interesting and likeable characters.
It did have its issues, for sure, and while the ending was very thought-provoking, my interpretation of events was never really properly acknowledged – I don’t know if it was an interpretation that the author intended, or if I’m just reading it in a strange way, but I would have liked to have seen that (and I can’t say more without spoiling it). Though I felt one aspect of the backstory could have been handled a little better, I was still very impressed overall, and recommended it to anyone who likes very human dramas that deal with very complex situations.