From the moment Gus Silva’s mother dies, Hallie Costa feels strangely connected to him. Although he refuses to speak for months after, it’s Hallie who finally helps him start to return to normalcy. When a terrible tragedy befalls them at their senior prom, Hallie is willing to stay by Gus’s side. And when years later Gus is accused of murder, Hallie wants more than anything to believe he didn’t do it. However, it will take Milla, the daughter of a woman Gus was counseling, to help Gus escape the shadow of his past.
There was only one thing I didn’t like about this book so I’m going to get it out of the way now. I was not a fan of how Gus impacted Hallie’s life. She’s one of my favorite characters ever and I think she would have had a better life without him. That, however, brings me to one of my favorite parts of this book: Hallie. From a precocious to a intelligent, successful adult, she was someone I would love to be friends with or to be myself. The author did a great job bringing all of her characters to life. Hallie, Gus, and Milla (especially Milla!), all had very distinct voices. I thought having Mila’s letters be written in terrible internet shorthand was a bit over the top, but other than that she seemed like an authentic, sarcastic, smart, and somewhat broken teenager. The setting was also fantastic, with interesting elements of Portuguese culture and of the culture of a small town in New England.
The plot took me on a complete emotional rollercoaster. Every time I was about to feel hopelessly depressed by what might have been, the characters displayed an amazing resilience which helped me keep going too. This book really deserves all of those blurbs I usually assume are hyperbolic. It’s gripping and poignant and a story of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. It’s beautiful and moving and a fascinating look at generally believable relationships. Basically, it was all amazing. I couldn’t put it down and would highly recommend it.This review first published on Doing Dewey.