I admit, I didn’t think much of Charlie at first. She was rounder than the girls who usually caught my eye. Not my type. But when I saw her sitting in that booth alone, for the first time something in my mind or my instincts or my heart told me to join her.
She defied me. She challenged me. She gave me hope. Before I knew it, moving forward was my only option.
I couldn’t tell you when it happened, but it had to have been a gradual change; I never moved too quickly. If someone would have told me earlier that year what I was going to go through, I wouldn’t have believed them.
Jesse was so different from anyone I’d met before. And everyone I’ve met since. He sucked all the life out of me, in the best—and worst—ways.
We don’t get strong overnight. For most of us it takes time. Strength isn’t measured by how high and fast our walls go up, but how easily we can watch them fall.
This book will be hard to review, mostly because it made me feel depressed and uncomfortable during the whole of it, I wasn’t happy at all with the ending, but I still gave it 4 stars, and I can’t even begin to explain that. It will also be impossible not to give away some SPOILERS, there will be mind ones, but there will be there, sorry!
First thing to be said is that this is a beautiful and ugly love story. The book is beautiful written and it breaches topics that range from love, child abuse, bullying, fat shaming, overweight problems, mental problems and disorders, so it’s a thought provoking book on itself, just by the amount of difficult topics that it breaches. The book is also heavy on inner monologues, and light on actual conversation, which made it a kind of slow read for me… heck, ok, 3 days, I’ll call it slow.
The book spans a whole year, while the relationship between Charlie and Jesse progresses, with some up and downs, and more downs than ups. During that time we get to know both characters, given that the book is divided in the parts, the first one is from Charlie’s perspective, and it’s tough, sure, the girl has dealt with a lot throughout her life, with the bullying and fat-shaming and the fact that no one was nice to her. But the second part, the one from Jesse’s POV, was not only my favorite, but the one that truly hurt, because Jesse hadn’t had a difficult life, he lived in a constant nightmare. The last part, the conclusion, is told by alternating POVs, and that part just made me want to smash someone’s face…
About the characters, let me tell you something, they’re both pretty messed up and hard to love. At first glance Charlie is lovable, with her willingness to see the good in others and her always positive attitude, but her sentiments towards herself made me angry, deranged really, how easily she thought she wasn’t deserving of anyone’s love or attention. And now that I think of it, what a bullshit. This girl, she had FRIENDS, lots of friends! She didn’t reach out, not because no one cared, but because she didn’t want them to see her vulnerable, and while I understand that, it makes me angry that she put herself in that position. And the unhealthy journey she takes through weight loss? Don’t even get me started! When she first started losing weight, she went a whole week eating nothing, only drinking coffee… GRRRR!!! That made me seriously mad! Sorry…
Now, Jesse is a tough pill to swallow sometimes, especially on the first part of the book, because we don’t actually know what’s going on inside his head. This guy was a dick sometimes, while being caring the next. He obviously felt strongly about Charlie, and didn’t know how to deal with it, and the things that came out of his mouth sometimes, appalled me. Then we find out that he’s been dealing with bipolar disorder since he was 10, at the same time that he was put in the foster care system by his own biological parents, and suddenly his way of thinking, and his unwillingness to trust anyone starts to make some sense.
While some PROGRESS was made on both parts, the biggest one was from Charlie’s, who finally realized that she had to put herself before everyone else. (sorry… SPOILERS)… But I would say that the pick of her so called progress was at the beginning of part 3, because by the end of the book, her actions are anything but. She went so far, that she transformed into one of those people who were selfish enough to not care about that one wrong action, because all the other made up for it. I was shocked and hurt by her disconnection with Jesse, who she always felt connected to before, and I honestly didn’t get it… she loves him, it’s more than valid that she would be done with his shit, but in that moment when she says that being with him feels like nothing, and she feels empty, I don’t get it. She’s right about the things she says to him, and that it takes more than loving someone for things to work, but here’s the guy, opening his heart and trusting someone for the first time in forever, and she stumps all over him, and that’s not OK.
All and all, I’m very conflicted about this book, but I need to know what will happen next, because I want them both to be ok. I want Jesse to actually tell Charlie the things that are in his head. I want her to listen to him, because she spent most of this book avoiding that… I need it to be ok.