Title: I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
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. Skylark 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 tighter is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
In the last year, it is quite possible (read: VERY LIKELY) you’ve heard me talk about Heather Demetrios and her stories. Her contemporary debut, Something Real, was one of my favourite reads of 2014. And now I can say with certainty that I’ll Meet You There will be one of the best books of 2015.
Her whole life, Skylar Evans has been determined not to become a typical Creek View girl. She doesn’t want the fast food job, baby and trailer. She wants to get out and go to art school. When she graduates from high school, she’s on her way to just that. But before she can leave, she has three months of summer to get through. Josh Mitchell thought that joining the Marines would be his way out of Creek View, but losing a leg in Afghanistan lands him back home a different person from the arrogant boy who left. Everyone treats him differently because of his leg. The only person who just treats him as Josh, the same boy she’s known most of her life, is Skylar. The quickly spend more and more time together at the motel where they work, and before long their friendship starts to become something more. Something that could be what saves them both.
Around this time last year, I discovered Heather Demetrios and her debut novel Something Real. From that point on, I’ve pretty much been screaming my love for this author and her contemporary books from the rooftops. If you know me in person, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about her books. But I just can’t because they are absolutely fantastic I will continue talking about them and pushing them on people until the end of time. Well, maybe not literally the end of time, but you get what I’m saying. The point is I love her books, and that includes her latest, I’ll Meet You There. I had been wanting this book ever since I first heard about it. I was constantly keeping my eyes open, trying to find a way to get my hands on a copy of the book without having to wait for its February 3rd release date. When I (finally!) got a copy in the mail, I couldn’t help myself, I started reading it right away. And as much as I wanted to pace myself, to draw out the book so I wouldn’t have to leave these characters and this story, I couldn’t do it. I just kept flipping the pages and reading as much as I could in whatever spare time I had.
But here’s the thing about I’ll Meet You There: as much as I would call it a fast read because I couldn’t get enough, it’s also not an easy story to read. At all. Not because it was poorly written. But because it was so well written and depicts the harsh realities of these characters in a way that felt completely and totally real. And at times it was downright heartbreaking. In I’ll Meet You There, Heather Demetrios tackles a number of issues, none of which are light and fun. In this book you will deal with teen motherhood, poverty, alcoholism, and PTSD, just to name a few. And though these subjects could all weigh the story down, they didn’t. Heather tackled all these issues without diminishing them, writing this story in a way that just presents them as a reality for a lot of people around the world. They can be absolutely horrible realities to deal with, but for these people in this story, it is the reality they have to deal with. And they deal with it the best way they can. And that’s what made this story so powerful: the way that these issues are present throughout the story without the reader being hit over the head with them. They’re just there, and they’re being dealt with. And attention is being brought to them in a positive way.
What made the themes and issues resonate so much for me were the characters, both the main characters and the secondary characters. But this was first and foremost Skylar and Josh’s story, two people who are trying to escape their home of Creek View and make a better life for themselves but struggle with it. When the story starts, Skylar is counting down the days until she leaves Creek View and goes to art school. But something always seems to get in her way, whether that’s money or her mom struggling to keep her life together. Skylark quickly became someone I admired, both for her determination to pursue her dreams in spite of everything standing in her way, but also for her loyalty and caring nature. Because no matter what she wanted for herself, she wasn’t ready to do it at the expense of abandoning her mom. Granted sometimes I wanted to tell Skylar to think more about herself than about the people around her, but still. And then there was Josh, who thought joining the Marines would be his way out and his way to a better life. But an amputated leg quickly changed that. Now Josh finds himself right back in the place he had hoped to leave behind and doesn’t really know who he is anymore. Skylar and Josh had been friends before he left town, but now that he’s back, they’re drawn together. Their similar hopes and dreams strengthening the connection between them. And the whole time I was reading, my heart was breaking for them. But I was also rooting for them SO MUCH because they were two people who deserved happiness and they clearly belonged together. And seeing them figure it all out was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
I can’t say enough about Heather Demetrios’s I’ll Meet You There, and no matter what I say it won’t ever come close to doing this book justice. Just know that it’s a touching story. A heartbreaking story, A powerful story. A heartwarming story. And a story that is absolutely worth reading.