Creek View is a blink town—as in, if you blink when driving down California Highway 99, you miss it. Skylar cannot wait to leave it behind. Just three more months, and she’ll be at school in San Francisco. In the meantime, Skylar will continue working at the quirky, rundown Paradise Motel and struggling to get her unemployed mother back on her feet.
As summer begins, former Paradise co-worker Josh Mitchell returns from Afghanistan. Josh proves to be a huge distraction for Sky, although she isn’t sure if it’s because she pities him or because she gets lost in his beautiful eyes. Their romance is tentative, and readers learn from brief but powerful interjecting chapters that Josh is suffering deeply from his war experiences. He is wracked with shame, guilt and a curious longing to return to battle, where life at least made sense. Skylar interprets Josh’s skittishness as rejection; why would he want to be with the inexperienced girl living in a sad trailer with her mess of a mother?
Author Heather Demetrios creates two realistic characters poised at turning points in their lives. By overcoming the disappointments and betrayals of past experience and learning to trust again, they find the resilience they need to move on. As in her earlier realistic fiction novel, Something Real, Demetrios tackles headline issues through individual stories rich with characterization. Like Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal, this book is a study of young people redefining their place in the world.
Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.