Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Hi everyone! Before I get started today, I thought I'd explain how our reviews are going to work since the focus is likely a bit different from our normal reviews. As we mentioned in our welcome posts, our reviews and discussions will be focused on the feminist aspect of books, and we'll be looking at representation, diversity, how female characters are treated, etc. We are working out a rating system that would suit our needs best (we'll be rating books based on how well they handle the above topics), but until we have that figured out, we'll either leave no concrete rating or we'll have a simple 1-5 star rating.

Personally, I get all the synopses, info, etc from Goodreads! If the books are ARCs, I also always include a disclaimer. In my case, I will not be putting a rating down until we sort out our rating system. The general way I'll be organizing my review will be a paragraph or so with general, overarching thoughts on the book (plot, pacing, etc), and the rest of the review will focus on representation, diversity, female representation, etc. Thanks!

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
Source: Netgalley

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. Skylar 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 together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from the publisher on Netgalley. This doesn't impact my review in any way.

I'm just going to be blunt about this; I absolutely loved I'll Meet You There! There's a great focus on all different types of relationships: friendships, family, romantic. The characters are all complex and well-written (I'll expand on that below), and their stories are engaging. There's also an art aspect to the book because of Skylar's hobby of creating collages, and it's effectively used to show how Skylar changes and how her perception of Creek View changes throughout the book. In addition, the book deals with heavy topics in a real, consistent way; it's clear Demetrios did her research, and she was really able to mix in the heavy stuff with light, happy moments. The very beginning was a bit slow and didn't really grab my attention much, but after the first few scenes, I flew through the book, staying up late just to finish it. And yes, there were lots of tears.

Demetrios did a fantastic job with her characters. There's a diverse cast of characters with different backgrounds, different problems, different personalities, etc. Many times, people look for "strong female characters" in books, but strong means different things to different people, and it often makes people think that it means that girls shouldn't be "weak" in books. But I've always felt that it's more about treating females as human beings. On the other side of the same coin, it's important to remember that men don't need to appear to be "strong" all the time either. We all have feelings and struggles. We all need help sometimes, and we all help others at other times.

What Demetrios does so well is that she treats all the characters with equal respect. There's Dylan, Skylar's best friend, who chooses to stay in Creek View and who is a teen mom but is happy with her life. There's Chris, Skylar's other best friend (and he's Hispanic), who can't wait to go to college. There's Marge, whose son was a war vet and committed suicide. There's Skylar's mom, who is still dealing with the grief of losing Sky's dad and who struggles with alcoholism. And of course there's Sky and Josh themselves. The book alternates between their point of views, but it shows both of their vulnerabilities and strengths. Josh is dealing with grief and PTSD, struggling to re-find himself and to fit back into every day life in Creek View. And Skylar continues to deal with her own grief as she struggles with the effects of poverty and the conflict of choosing to stay or leave. Characters weren't treated in a male/female way but in a human way, and that clearly stuck out to me.

Now, there isn't a great deal of racial/ethnic diversity with the exception of Chris, and there aren't any LGBTQ+ characters, but I don't think it's necessarily detrimental in this case. Of course I would have liked to see more, but Demetrios did such a great job with the rest of the characters, taking the time to explore each of them, that it didn't/doesn't bother me. Instead of having everything being dealt with in the book, she chooses to focus on key issues: mental illness (particularly PTSD and depression), poverty, unhealthy vs. healthy relationships, familial responsibility, alcoholism, grief, etc. I like that Chris' background is clear and is a big part of who his character is, but it's treated just as it is. He's Chris, and he just happens to be Hispanic. (I like that it is what it is, much like I loved Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour because Emi's story isn't about her coming out; she's Emi, and she's lesbian.)

I highly recommend I'll Meet You There, both for the story and book itself, but also for the way the book and author treat characters as human, regardless of gender or background. It isn't completely diverse, but Heather Demetrios does a great job at balancing what is in the book.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review, Jess! I've had this one on my wishlist for a while, and I think I might have to actually get around to getting a copy now because this sounds great! :)


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