Sydney has always faded into the background behind her charismatic older brother Peyton. As Peyton’s behavior becomes more reckless, their parents keep bailing him out of trouble. Until Peyton hits someone while driving drunk and he’s sent to jail. Sydney’s left wondering why she’s the only one who seems concerned about the victim instead of how Peyton is coping in prison. Sydney finds herself seeking the company of the Chatham family, who own a pizza parlor and are so different from her own family. And the son, Mac, seems to see her as Sydney, not as the sister of the guy in jail.
This was my first Sarah Dessen book and I really enjoyed it. I liked the characters, the writing style, the premise. Now I’m wondering why it took me so long to finally crack open one of her books. It was very character driven and I found myself emphasizing with a lot of the characters. It was a book I started and just didn’t want to put down.
Sydney was an amazing character. I could understand her frustration at being shoved in the background but not wanting to speak up, her need to follow the rules and be seen as someone completely different than her brother, her wanting a fresh start at a new school. I liked the contrast of how she was with the friends from her old school vs the friends she’d made at her new school. She just felt like a very realistic girl going through a rough time, making understandable mistakes, getting annoyed and frustrated with strict parents even though she’s never been in trouble, having a hard time finding anything to talk about with her brother. Everything about her felt real.
There were so many great characters in this book. I loved the Chathams, they were so warm and accepting of Sydney even as they had their own difficulties. Eric, a band mate of Mac’s, was funny and had a huge ego but still somehow was endearing. Mac, Sydney’s love interest, was amazing. They were really cute together and I loved their banter during their pizza delivery runs and the support they gave each other. I also like how the romance was light but it added so much to the plot in terms of being what Sydney needed.
I enjoyed the premise of the book as well. It was interesting to see it told from the POV of the drunk driver’s sister, as opposed to the drunk driver or the victim. Both their lives changed in huge ways but this way, we got to see the subtle ways Sydney’s life changed due to her brother’s actions. The whole family was affected and were trying to deal with things in their own ways, and they all had to come to terms with different issues before they could begin to heal. It was a really interesting journey to read.
Final thoughts: This was my first Sarah Dessen novel but it won’t be my last.