This is one of those rarer books about which I don’t want to share very much. Discovering the story and what’s happening is one of the joys of reading this book. It unspools just a bit at a time, revealing at last the bittersweet and devastating truth. In short, though, here’s the basic setup: Natalie Cleary is graduating high school in her small town in northern Kentucky. She’s part Native American and adopted. For some years, she has been visited off and on by a woman she decides to call “Grandmother,” who tells her stories. Then Grandmother tells her that her time of visiting is almost over, and that Natalie has “three months to save him.” Next, she begins seeing her town differently: little and bigger things around town are not the same as she knows them, and sometimes she sees nothing but plains. Then she sees a boy she’s never seen there before, and when she meets him, she is utterly drawn to him.
That summer, Natalie spends time with Beau, when they can see each other, and tries desperately to figure out what it is she’s supposed to do by the end of the summer and who “he” is. She goes further along a path of self-discovery that her mother had tried to set her on before with therapists. And at last she learns what she must do, if she chooses it, and how much love can mean.
I loved so much about this story. It’s beautiful and heart-rending and just cool in its exploration of the reason behind the strange things Natalie is experiencing. The end grabbed me and shook me and left me a bit emotionally exhausted. The characters and the story will stick with me for a long while. I’m just moved and impressed by debut author Emily Henry’s skill in putting it all together so wonderfully.
Rated: Moderate, for one use of strong language and occasional mild and moderate language. There are some scenes involving almost-abuse and some violence. Romantic scenes are mostly making out but stop short of sex, with not much in the way of details. There’s a fair amount of references to late-teen drinking, with some integral to plot and showing consequences of poor choices in this regard.