Published February 3, 2015 · Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
GOODREADS · THE BOOK DEPOSITORY · AMAZON
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.
The setting of I’ll Meet You There couldn’t be any more different from my life. Living in a town so small it could barely be called one is worlds apart from life in a metropolitan city and truth be told, I was a little concerned about whether I could picture everything well in my head. I discovered later it had all been needless worrying because Heather Demetrios flawlessly transported me to the hot and lazy town of Creek View.
Despite reading numerous reviews lauding I’ll Meet You There, I was still surprised by how much I had enjoyed it. Somehow, Skylar and Josh’s story was so full of life and wonder despite the sleepy and seemingly lifeless setting; not what I had expected.
“It was like the whole town was swimming in failure, but no one realized they were drowning.”
Skylar’s one of those girls who simply can’t wait to take off into the great big world, leaving behind her humble beginnings. She’s not exactly ashamed of Creek View, but just feels it’s too small and constraining for someone with big dreams – which I can really relate to. Except she’s worried about how her Mom would do alone without her since her Dad had died when she was young. (Oh, I also loved her art medium – collaging)
“Nothing ever goes to waste with collaging. It was the perfect medium for a broke-ass person like myself.”
Josh on the other hand, has left Creek View – but he’s back along with some intense emotional baggage and without one of his legs. Spending two years in Afghanistan had taken its toll on him and adjusting back to his old life is as easy as squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle.
The unlikely duo ended up working together at the only motel in town – the Paradise – just as they had before Josh had left and fuzzy feelings started to develop between them. Of course. However, this is far from your typical cliché summer story because the author doesn’t hold back on rawly emotional and ugly details.
Every one of the characters in the book was so artlessly realistic, each facing their own demons. Because in a town like Creek View, most people’s lives are not like fairytales (an obvious understatement). It was intriguing how Heather Demetrios showed such a variety of reactions among her characters facing their predicament in the small town; there were those who drown their sorrows in alcohol/sex/drugs, those who had tried to but can’t get out, those who are leaving, and those content with where they are.
“What am I supposed to do when I’m bad for the one good thing in my life?”
The best part though, was definitely Skylar and Josh’s relationship. While there was the thrill of first love going on, every bump – both minor and major – they had faced was congruent with their characters and the impact their past had on them. Admittedly, Skylar’s actions at one point in the story had me face-palming but staring at the big picture, it can be overlooked.
Another thing I utterly loved was the writing. It was so uniquely gritty yet stunning at the same time. Or it could be a case of an author writing a type of book perfect for her writing style. Whatever it is, I’m probably going to come running back for more!
“I only knew how to live my life in negatives; it seemed like everything I was could only be seen in relation to what I wasn’t. Like Josh said, I was “good,” but only because I didn’t screw up.”
Despite being poignant and real, I still felt I’ll Meet You There was missing a little something, that extra spark that makes sure a book sticks in your mind for some time. It might’ve been the pacing or the above mentioned misstep Skylar had made, but either ways, it made the story just shy of kidnapping my heart. Regardless, it’s still a wonderful novel and if you’re looking for a lazy yet meaningful summer book, this is one (among a couple others) that I would shove into your arms.