In total, there is exactly one thing I don't hate about this book, and a whopping four things that I do hate about it. I'm just going to list them all - with the good first, of course - because otherwise I'd have to re-label this as a rant rather than a review, and we don't want that.
+ The chapters alternate between past and present. I was unsure about this in the beginning, especially since I'm so used to reading contemporary novels that stay strictly in the present with the occasional flashback, and sometimes not even those. Eventually though I not only got used to the alternating chapters, but even started to like it. Kelsey's life was terrible, and it made my chest hurt. So with the chapters going back and forth between past and present, we get a little break from all the heartache. Unless you take into account that her life kind of sucks both in the past and the present, but the past was definitely worse. I couldn't read all that in a flashback and still be alive. I also liked that both the past and present were depictions of Kelsey and David's growing relationship, and it was interesting seeing how similar they grew into (and apart) from each other both times. In fact, it's kind of crazy how alike both past and present were - you'd think the two would have learned not to repeat the mistakes they made in the past, but I guess not.
- This book made high school sound worse than medieval torture. This was mostly prominent in the "past" chapters, but I was this close to sobbing all over my pillow. If I had read this book in middle school, I would have traumatized; I would have had high school phobia or something. The mean girls in the novel were not only irrational and crazy (which would be reasonable), but unnaturally evil. I mean, you'd think they'd let up on Kelsey once they found out she was sick and possibly dying, but nope, those billies were heartless, soulless beings, and all over a boy. Some of you may be thinking that that's what teenagers do, but not like this. I hated so many people in this book, including David - it's ridiculous.
- Kelsey's bout of sickness had absolutely no point in the book. A relatively large part of Kelsey's story involved her having this "sickness" where she's constantly tired and loses a lot of blood. In fact, the author seems to place a certain importance on the fact that before David came to town, Kelsey nearly swerved off the road. People think it was a squirrel, but only David and Kelsey know that she was feeling dizzy, and she had nothing to drink. Including this in the plot would have been a wonderful idea. Instead, I feel that the author wanted to go somewhere with this, but ultimately she ended up forgetting about it. There's just this question hanging over my head: What the heck was up with that swerve??? I guess I'll never have my answer.
- Kelsey and David's relationship could not have been healthy. The two became friends, fell in love, and then hated each other so many times it was ridiculous. I didn't have much respect for either of them, and I couldn't really bring myself to care whether or not they got together. The entire book was about them dating other people and hurting each other in an attempt to feel nothing for the other, and it was petty. I don't like petty. All of their conversations were unnecessary and I can't even put into words their communication problems. All they had to do was sit down and hash out their problems, and voila, everything is right in the world. I have no patience for either Kelsey or David.
- IT WAS ALL DAVID'S FAULT. You may think I'm saying this because I'm a girl, but you could not be further away from the truth. I started out admiring David; he seemed like a great person. However, it's only near the end of the novel that I realized that no one would be in this mess if he had come out with his feelings earlier. He didn't even have to do that, he just should have stuck by his friend - that's Kelsey by the way...they were BFF's in the past - when she needed him most instead of making out with mean girl #1. Like I said, no respect. I don't know if he's oblivious or just stupid, but he couldn't see what was going on right in front of him. The book seems to make a point of blaming Kelsey for not being brave enough to accept her feelings, but that just made me angrier. David started it all, and I hate that he comes out the good guy.
By now, you probably all know that I hate this book, but I'd still recommend it to readers who enjoyed 99 Days by Katie Cotugno. Not only did I dislike that book as well (even more, actually), but both novels have a similar vibe: they're both overdramatic, and the characters don't know what's good for them. There's nothing wrong with liking that sort of thing, so I'm eagerly pushing you toward this novel if you're the type. I sincerely hope you have better luck with it than I did.
Book Synopsis: Is there anything that electric chemistry can’t overcome? The past may be gone, but love has a way of holding on in this romantic debut novel told in alternating Before and After chapters.
The summer before freshman year, Kelsey and David became inseparable best friends—until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke and everything around her crumbled, including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey’s parents decide to move away, she can’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. But David’s not quite ready to be left.
Now it’s senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David’s family moves to town. Old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey’s second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never let him go. And maybe she never wants to…