Where we lay our scene...
High school senior Jake Hayes has liked Samantha Shay since freshman year, but has never been brave enough to tell her. Then, during homecoming Jake ends up in a drunken car crash which results in a hospital stay and the loss of his vocal cords and thereby his ability to tell Sam that he loves her. While trying to come to terms with all of this, Jake gets closer to Sam and realizes that there are worse things than not being able to speak. And now he just might get the chance to tell her how he feels even if he can't actually say the words.
Only "Cover!" is the word.
My initial thoughts on this cover were: a) they guy and the girl are cute albeit a touch too old for the book's characters, and b) this kind of looks self-published (turns out it was published through CreateSpace which is a self-publishing outlet through Amazon). And yet partway into the book I found myself liking the cover because it's very fitting—the notebook pictured is how Jake communicates with others, but in particular how he connects with Sam.
O brave new world that has such people in't!
What I loved character-wise: Jake's big and boisterous family (though the legion of 'J' names was a little too Duggar-esque for me), Jake himself...most of the time, Sam...only sometimes. What I wasn't crazy about: Jake's voice didn't read like a teen guy throughout, which was a bit disappointing. At times I felt that Sam was unfair to Jake about his difficulty dealing with the loss of his voice. Also, Carter—the guy driving on the night of the accident—never seemed to show any remorse for getting behind the wheel drunk and the outcome of this bad decision. I think that needed to come up at least once.
It's not enough to speak, but to speak true.
As mentioned, Jake didn't feel like a teen boy most of the time. Because we spend the entire story in his head, I would have liked some great teen voice, but I feel like this was a bit lacking. I liked Jake, but he could have been a bit more real.
Was not this love indeed?
First off, I loved that Jake knew exactly how he felt about Sam despite her hesitance. All too often we hear about guys who won't commit or who play the field. Not so with Jake, and I respected that about him. That being said, it bothered me that Sam always seemed to have the upper hand in their relationship. As I alluded to earlier, Sam jumping all over Jake for his attitude about losing his voice seemed unfair to me. Sure he was having a pity party, but I think the fact that the guy will never be able to speak again kind of warrants that at least for a little while. Sure Sam had her own problems (serious ones), but I don't think that trumps Jake's struggle. There was a scene between these two that was meant to be cute and sweet but came off kind of like a throwback to the 50s with all of its gender role issues. Let's just say it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Overall, despite some of my concerns, I thought these two were (mostly) good together and kind of cute.
I could a tale unfold...
Fantastic premise, great setting (an island in the Pacific Northwest), believable and appealing family dynamics, and a sweet romance. However, it felt a little heavy-handed at times while still missing opportunities for certain characters to show more remorse for their actions. (Like how about at least touching on the fact that these drunken kids could have actually killed someone.) Given that this was a galley, I'm not 100% sure how much editing had been done. The formatting was off, there was some awkwardness relating to tense, and the word 'chuckle' was used so often it jumped off the page with each and every occurrence. I would have liked this book to feel more like Jake's story and less about Sam and her struggles.
Verdict: The course of true love never did run smooth.