This book promised one of my favorite “tropes”: A peek into multiple characters lives to see how they intertwine. Unfortunately, it was only that: a peek. My main criticism, which deducted basically two stars from the review, was that I wanted more from each character’s point of view. Instead, I got only about three months out of the entire year for each of the five characters, so I didn’t get to know them well enough. So this book wasn’t bad, just not what I wanted and needed to be longer to be better. Also sad because this is a five star cover (it has doodles!) but not a five star book.
“In the beginning the five of them made a promise. It was the day before the first day of high school. They wrote letters to their future selves, hid them in a secret place, and vowed to unearth them at graduation.”
This book follows five characters: Whitney, Gregor, Zoe, Mia, and Jake, five teenagers who meet at freshman orientation. They are Breakfast Club-esque, completely different from one another yet placed in a situation together. They decide to write letters to their future selves to open together at graduation. Only, none of them knew who they were going to turn into and what was going to happen between orientation and graduation.
I liked all of the characters well enough. Whitney is the popular girl, although learns that popular girls can be fake. She stays true to herself though, which I liked. Gregor is the nerd, but is so sweet and innocent in the way only a freshman boy can be. Zoe is the famous girl, because her mom is a famous actress, but has family problems. Mia is the outcast, and frankly my least favorite character because she’s very weird but almost stalkerish??? And Jake is the golden boy with a secret (that’s pretty easy to guess from the beginning but I won’t spoil). Like I said, this book could’ve been so good because I liked all the characters, but I didn’t love them enough because I didn’t get to know them all well enough.
“On that first day they had no clue that one of them would experience the worst of losses (day 691) and another would watch her family break apart (day 38) and another would fall deeply and dangerously in love without buckling up for the ride (day 1,045).”
What I liked is how much these characters did grow. As a high school student, I can attest to the huge differences between your freshman self, sophomore self, junior self, and senior self, and this book did a good job of demonstrating that. All the characters grew and experienced hardships and overcame them and matured in general. They grew out of their weird, middle school phases and grew into theirselves, the less extreme versions. I also just love the first chapter (prologue), how it lists what the characters thought was going to happen in high school, and what actually happened. Who I thought I would be friends with in high school is not who I am friends with, and what I thought would happen in my life isn’t what happened. I think that theme was sent quite clearly through the book, which was good. What I can’t do is tell you which character experienced what in the beginning quote. These events that Carolyn Mackler laid out as life-changing, unpredictable events weren’t that memorable, and I couldn’t tell you who experienced what.
From the summary, I pictured the plot being their lives intersecting a ton, maybe in small ways in the beginning but getting more meaningful by the end. Unfortunately, their lives only started crossing in the end of the book, which was when the book started to get good, but it was too late. My favorite scenes to read were when the characters were together, even if it was just “Can I borrow a pencil?” I just wanted more of that, more overlapping to match the overall theme of the story, which is that so much can happen in between.
So overall, this book was okay. It could even be called good. But it wasn’t all that it could’ve been, and didn’t live up to it’s summary. In short, I would reread it if I was desperate and had nothing else to read or reread, but I have no itch to.
Have you read this book? What book do you recommend where all the character’s lives intersect in unpredictable ways?