this is what goodbye looks like from netgalley, i had second thoughts. the pretty cover drew me in but the more i thought about the description the more worried i was that i wouldn't like it. i don't like to read novels that i won't like. i'm not the kind of person who wants to write a negative review. and this isn't one, necessarily. i didn't love this book, but i didn't hate it either.
Lea Holder watched a boy die in the same DUI accident that ruined her legs and threw her little sister into a coma. As the only eye-witness to the accident, if Lea tells the truth in court, the drunk driver will go to prison and the dead boy's family will have justice.
But Lea lies.
Telling the truth would have put her own mom in prison for causing the accident. With the trial over and her mom set free, Lea attempts to rebuild her shattered life as she waits for her little sister to wake from her coma.
When Lea transfers schools, she finds herself in the same senior class as Seth Ashbury, the brother of the boy her mom killed. As Lea gets to know the person buried underneath Seth's grief, she quickly falls for his quick wit and passionate soul. But Seth remains completely oblivious that Lea is the same girl who robbed his family of justice.
As their relationship deepens, Lea finally gets a taste of the love that's been missing from her life since the accident. But soon she's faced with a choice: she can continue her lies and accept the comfort it gives them both. Or she can tell Seth the truth about everything, and risk destroying both her family and the fragile love she's found.
i just think that there was so much dread and angst and lying going on, the fact that we know all the main character's terrible secrets from the get-go actually became a problem for me. because you know that the life she is building, the relationships she is forging are going to implode when the truth about her family is revealed. also her motivations for relocating and her grand plan make absolutely no sense. which, i mean, she's a recovering car accident victim who has suffered great trauma, so you can understand why her decision-making is suspect. but still.
seeing doomed relationships develop isn't really my cup of tea. and maybe it would be one thing if we were afforded the chance to see seth and lea come back together face to face after everything is revealed. but though the book ends on a hopeful note, you don't really get to see much of the healing. and ultimately i think that's what i struggled with as i was reading this book. there were too many things broken, and it took a long time to break some of them. so by the time we get to the novel's conclusion, everything feels so rushed and glossed over. like we missed some really important healing bits.
this book lives in the same wheelhouse as gayle forman's if i stay, rivers doesn't manage to evoke all the feels. but there are feels. her characters are vividly drawn. you don't only come to love lea and seth. you love the girls at the dorm, lea's siblings, parker—all these characters are put through the ringer, that's for sure. i'm not positive i felt it was all worth it in the end, but you may have a different opinion when you read the novel. (which is currently on sale for $2.99 for the month of june)
**this is what goodbye looks like published june 17, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/red sparrow press in exchange for my honest review.