Monday, June 8, 2015

Days Like This by Danielle Ellison

Title: Days Like This
Author: Danielle Ellison
Publisher: Bookish Group Press
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: eARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Indigo
Sometimes the only thing standing between fear and hope is you.

Almost a year ago, nineteen-year-old Cassie Harlen had a lot to deal with. A stack of college acceptance letters waiting for answers, a proposal from the boy next door, and a mother whose most recent bipolar episode left Cassie hurt and confused. Tired of cleaning up the messes caused by her mother’s disorder, of resenting her mother for not being there, and scared of being trapped by an inevitable future—which included marrying Graham Tucker—Cassie did the only thing she could think of to keep from ending up like her mother: she left.

Graham never knew why Cassie walked away. He woke up one morning and she was gone—along with the life that he’d created around her. After eleven months, Graham has a new plan for his future. One that doesn’t involve Cassie Harlen.

When Cassie’s mom nearly burns down her house, Cassie’s forced to return home. Back to a mother she’s tried to ignore and the guy she’s been unable to forget. Graham doesn’t know how he’s going to spend the whole summer living next door to the person who broke his heart without letting those old feelings push through to the surface.

Neither does Cassie.

You know those books that get recommended to you and then you start reading them thinking you know what the story is going to be like? That’s exactly what happened to me with Danielle Ellison’s Days Like This. This story went where I never thought it would go and I loved reading every single page of it.

A year ago, Cassie Harlen ran away. It was easier than deal with everything that was happening at home with her mom. But running away also meant leaving behind Graham, the boy next door who asked her to marry him. And as much as it hurt her to leave him, Cassie just couldn’t handle dealing with her mom’s disorder anymore. She wanted a fresh start and running away to college was the only way she could think to get one. The people she left behind never understood why she left. For the last year, Graham has been trying to move on from Cassie, to start planning for a new future. And just when he thinks he’s finally moved on, Cassie comes back into his life after her mother nearly burns down their house. Back in the place she never wanted to go back to, Cassie is forced to face everything she left behind a year earlier. After everything that’s happened, Graham and Cassie are going to have to faced all the feelings left between them, even when it’s the last thing either of them wants to do.

When I first heard about Danielle Ellison’s Days Like This I just knew it was a book I was going to enjoy. Based on the synopsis, it had all the things that typically lead to me enjoying an NA book. And then when the release date drew closer, more people started talking about it, saying some fantastic things that made me all the more curious about the book. Add to that the fact that friends were telling me that Days Like This was a total “Emilie” book and I knew I had to make it my next read. So I started reading, and I quickly realized that the story in Days Like This wasn’t the story I thought it was going to be. In my mind, the focus of the story was going to be on Cassie and Graham’s relationship because that’s what I’ve come to be used to with my NA reads. And while their relationship, and the romance between them, was certainly a large part of the story, it wasn’t the sole focus of the book. This book was also about Cassie’s relationship with her mother, her relationship with her mother’s bipolar disorder, and even her own relationship with mental illness. In fact, for what felt like most of the book, the romance was sort of on the back burner. Sure, Cassie and Graham spend a good chunk of the story figuring out their respective feelings for the others, but that’s not necessarily what the story focuses on. Instead, it gives the reader a really realistic depiction of what it can be like living with a parent who suffers from bipolar disorder, and shows the way mental illness affects not just the person who suffers from the illness, but also everyone around them. Because of that, one of the most important relationships in Days Like This was the one between Cassie and her mother, and everything that came with that relationship.

I feel like I’m repeating myself at this point, but first and foremost, Days Like This felt like it was a book about relationships of all kinds. And I loved seeing the way those relationships developed and changed over the course of the story. That goes for Cassie’s relationship with her mother, her relationship with her best friend June, and of course her relationship with Graham. There were many times when some of those relationships were hard to read about. For me, this was especially true for Cassie’s relationship with her mother. There were times when this relationship downright broke my heart but I loved reading about it, and see it grow and get mended over the course of the story. Beyond the relationships, Days Like This was also very much about Cassie and Graham’s personal journeys. Both of them had so much to work through before they could even consider attempting anything together again. For Cassie that meant coming to terms with her mother’s disorder, but also accepting that she’s not her mother and she shouldn’t let her fear of also being bipolar as a reason not to let people get close to her. And Graham, well he just had accept that he was still in love with Cassie no matter what he tried to tell himself (or how much I want to yell as much to him). 

Danielle Ellison’s Days Like This was so much more than I thought it was going to be. I went in expecting one story, but after having read it, I’m in love with the story I got instead. If you’re thinking about reading Days Like This, stop thinking and just start reading.

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