Being Jonathan Tart’s little sister used to be a good thing, the kind of label that offered protection in high school. Now, a year and a half after he got behind the wheel of a car while he was drunk and killed his best friend, being his little sister means putting on a mask and dealing with the fallout of his unapologetic interview. Amanda Tart still loves her brother and wants to protect him but as she starts getting closer to Henry, a former flame and the boy whose sister was paralyzed in the accident, she starts to see that maybe protecting her brother is destroying her own life.
Before I started this book, I was a little worried it would be too similar to Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything. Both involved the younger sister of a popular boy who’d driven drunk and got caused an accident. Both involved the sister having to figure out who she was outside of being that boy’s little sister and having to deal with the consequences of his actions. There were obvious similarities but overall, the characters and the way they handled the situations that arose were very different and made this book feel different.
Amanda for the most part was a likeable and sympathetic character. She didn’t always make the smart choice but she was dealing with a lot so while I didn’t always agree with her, I could understand her viewpoint. The fact that the book was told in her POV also made the character of Jonathan more than just the drunk driver. We saw how his actions affected the whole family, including him, and how they struggled with wanting to help him versus pushing him too hard.
There were many times throughout the book when I wanted to shake some sense into the characters, especially Jonathan and Amanda’s parents. Their son was home after an extremely lenient sentence and was spiraling and they were nowhere. I could understand their fear of being too harsh and pushing him away but their inaction just made it easier for him to continue his downward spiral. From the flashbacks and some moments with Amanda, Jonathan seemed like a decent guy who just loved to party, made the biggest mistake of his life, and now had to deal with what had happened. And no one was making him face it so he used any way he could to avoid it.
I didn’t enjoy the cheating that came from the attraction between Amanda and Henry, Sutton’s brother who was also Jonathan’s girlfriend before the crash. I did like them together, but as least have the decency to break up with your girlfriend and boyfriend before jumping into a new relationship. With everyone making such horrible decisions throughout the book though, it made sense for cheating to eventually come up.
Overall, it was a good book filled with character growth for Amanda and the kind of book that can remind its reader that judging a character’s actions is easy when we’re not in the same position.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.