Sophie and Carter have lived next door to each other for years, ever since Sophie moved into town in elementary school. They’re seniors now and best friends, even if they hide their relationship from the rest of the school. It makes things easier this way, for both of them. Easier to pretend they’re normal. Easier to pretend their lives outside of school are normal. But they’re not.
Sophie’s mom is a prostitute and, in recent years, a drug addict. She disappears for months at a time and leaves Sophie in charge of her three younger siblings. Sophie has to be mother, father, taskmaster, rule maker, bill payer, tutor, and sole support when she should be enjoying high school and preparing for the rest of her life. Carter is physically scarred, but the worst damage is on the inside, the secrets no one but Sophie knows. His father was a brutal monster who abused him and his mother for years. Eventually the mental and physical abuse broke his mother and now her only solace is insanity and alcohol. His father is gone and Carter is the only one left to take care of his poor mother.
This story is as heartbreaking as it is uplifting. It touches on subjects too dark to contemplate and shows how hope, love, trust, and beauty can survive even in hellish circumstances. Chelsea Fine’s writing is poetic, but always real and her characters are believable and true. I only had one complaint: it was too short! Sophie and Carter are such beautiful characters and beautiful people that I wanted to see every minute of their days and hear more about their lives–both past and present. Still, it was fabulous to watch them both realize what they’ve known quietly for years: they are absolutely devoted to and hopelessly in love with each other. If more people persevered through adversity like Sophie and Carter do, the world would be a much better place.
Honestly, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It will captivate you from the minute you start reading (I found it on amazon, read the first chapter, immediately downloaded the Kindle edition, and read it in one sitting) and keep you thinking about it well after you put it down. Despite the strong subject matter, the language and situations don’t make it unsuitable for younger readers. However, I would still suggest parental guidance as some of the topics mentioned will probably raise questions you may or may not want to answer.
Erica’s Rating: 5/5