First: this book is one wild ride.
Is it a good book, though?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Holly Goldberg Sloan gives you characters — specifically brothers Sam and Riddle — whom you care about, whose lives you are more than fully invested in, and then literally runs them through the paces. But even saying that doesn’t fully convey the ups and downs of the book. Not to mention the hope and heartbreak, the anger and love, that this book will make you feel.
It’s an unusual book, not just for the absolute pummeling the characters take at the hand of the author, but also for the storytelling style. It’s told almost completely in narrative: there’s hardly any dialogue, although the viewpoint shifts so we can see into the minds of many of the characters we meet over the course of the book. At its most basic, the story is about all the little ways in which humans connect: from the brothers who are dealing with an unstable and abusive father, to the lives of the family they interact with, and the impact we all have on each other, for good or ill.
Even though the story is a hopeful one, the plot is almost secondary to the way the book is told. The prose is simple, almost poetic, and delivers its punch in small ways: a mention that the brothers have never had homemade lasagna; the heartbreak of a broken guitar; the spray-tan debacle of a pompous, spoiled teenage boy; the weeping of a mother. Nothing is overly dramatic, and yet it all works together to a stunning, moving conclusion.
A wild ride, indeed.
Rated: Mild for intense situations