February 20, 2015

Bits and Pieces Made Beautiful

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Macmillan | Henry Holt BFYR
Pages: 400 pages
Source & Format: Asheley; ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
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.

Thoughts on I'll Meet You There
I'll Meet You There wasn't on my radar initially. It sounded pretty good, but I wasn't rushing to read it. Then, the reviews started rolling in... Bloggers I trusted started raving about this read! When Asheley offered to send me a copy, I immediately took her up on the offer. I devoured this back in November and realized I wanted to re-read it before writing my review. And the best part? It was even better the second time around!

Skylar Evans wants more than a double-wide trailer and a dead-end job. To find it, she knows she has to leave Creek View behind. With graduation now behind her, she's supposed to spend the next three months working and preparing for college. But when her mom loses her jobs, everything begins to unravel. Josh Mitchell got out of Creek View, but he's returned home a changed man. Working at the Paradise (a quirky motel) brings Skylar and Josh together, but their unexpected friendship may become something so much more.

Skylar's going to college to pursue her love of art, and I wanted to honor this incredible part of her character with my review. My favorite quote from I'll Meet You There explains why Skylar loves collaging, and it's something that just stuck with me. If I were creating a collage of I'll Meet You There, here are the different bits and pieces I'd use to craft the whole:

College Acceptance Letter / SKYLAR
Skylar has so many dreams for her future, and she's always known she was meant for more than life in Creek View. Her college acceptance letter represents the future that's finally within her reach. All of her life, she's been defined by the ways she doesn't fit in and the things she can't have. I loved Skylar so much, and I ached for all the heartbreak she's experienced. Her inner strength, her unselfishness, her talent... She's incredible! Demetrios has written a memorable and admirable young woman right on the cusp of finally getting what she's worked so hard for and has always wanted.

Fabric from Marine Uniform / JOSH
Oh, Josh Mitchell. He's returned home from the Afghanistan to a life he never would have imagined. He hasn't just lost his leg, but also his sense of purpose. He was the cocky, confident, life of the party before he left. And now he's broken, lost, and grieving. Josh is a tricky character - the Josh from before is incredibly unlikeable, and the Josh after is still struggling to find his way. He says terrible things, makes even worse choices... but you can also see a goodness in him. At one point, Skylar talks about how it's like there are three versions of Josh, and it's a fitting observation. It's what makes you feel conflicted about him - because one side of him is so amazing, but there's also a part of him that's so off-putting. 

Postcard from Motel / SETTING
Oh, how I loved the setting in I'll Meet You There! Creek View felt like a real place to me. I could imagine the people who populated it and the poverty that defined it. From the diner to the bodega, I could picture it all in my mind! And it was easy to see why someone like Skylar would want to escape and how someone like Josh would feel a bit directionless there without the Marines. And as for the motel? I loved every second Skylar and Josh spent there! I loved that it's what initially brought them together, and I adored the way the pool, the rooms, and the motel owner played a huge role in their relationship as the book progressed.

Bills and Receipts / MONEY
Money, particularly the lack of it, plays an important part in the book. Skylar and her mom are barely making ends meet. They live in a trailer park, and it's not a given that Skylar will go to college. One wrong move, and everything comes crashing down around them. I found it refreshing to read about a character who has to work hard for everything she gets. Nothing is handed to her - she fights for it all.

Beer Bottle Label / ACTIONS
Alcohol is prevalent in this book. Characters drink to forget, to dull their pain, to loosen up... basically, for all the wrong reasons. But I didn't just include this item in my list because certain characters drink a lot and/or struggle with alcoholism. I actually felt like it needed a spot on the list because of the decisions characters make while drinking. There were a few times when this book was hard for me to read because I was so frustrated and upset by what characters were doing. But, at the same time, it shows how emotionally invested I was in the book. I just wanted them to put the bottle down and start thinking clearly!

Part of a Soap Box / LANGUAGE
I know you're probably wondering why I'm including a soap box in my collage. Well, have you ever had someone threaten to wash your mouth out with soap because of something you've said? Yep, that's the inspiration for this item! There is a lot of foul language and problematic statements in I'll Meet You There. It seemed realistic to me, so I didn't necessarily see it as a flaw in the book. But I think it's important to note because I think it will bother some readers.

Corner of a Map / IDENTITY
Finally, I think a map represents something at the heart of I'll Meet You There: identity. Skylar and Josh are still figuring out who they are and trying to find their way in the world. They feel isolated from the people around them. They dream of more than what they see in front of them. They want to belong and have a purpose. They want to be understood, to be known, and to be loved. And it's a desire that feels so honest and realistic. The world in this book is harsh, but it's hopeful, too. With longing palpable on every page, Demetrios has managed to pour her heart out in this story - and it absolutely shows.

So Quotable
"Nothing ever goes to waste with collaging... In my essay for San Fran, I'd written about how I'd always felt like there was something magical about taking bits and pieces of the world around me and creating something whole. It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages - no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

4 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm still not sure this book is going to be my bag but I am loving seeing everyone's enthusiasm about it. I love how you put this review together as it if were a collage--so clever.

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  2. Oh, I love how you decided to talk about the book! I loved both of the characters. Sky was absolutely wonderful and strong. And Josh, oh Josh. His chapters slayed me. I loved how Heather wrote his character. We needed to see all sides to him, even we didn't always like them. I also adored the setting, the Paradise and its owner, and how everything just felt so REAL. This book was, simply put, AMAZING. <3

    Wonderful review, Hannah!

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  3. Isn't it the best when you read a book early & then have to reread for a review? I have to do that with 99 Days but... after reading THIS particular book, it took EVERYTHING for me not to start it right up again. You hit all the nails and I loved how you set this up. It was just brilliantly done. I hope she gets a lot of attention for this... beyond bloggers, I mean.

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  4. I'm so in love with your collage review for I'll Meet You There! Not only does it capture art (which is an important part of Skylar's life), but you picked out the perfect elements to include in it. I love that you touched lightly upon the important themes and elements of this novel, and certainly agree with it all 100%. This is a book that deserves to be read by everyone!

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