I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
From the publisher:
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.
I would not have heard of this book if it weren’t for the fantastic taste in books – especially YA – of Rhapsody Jill. And I LOVED this book so much. I’ve been feeling blah about YA in general for a while now, and this book reminded me that there is blah YA and then there is great YA, and I’ll Meet You There is GREAT.
There are so many things I loved about this novel. Skylar is intelligent, ambitious, a loyal friend, a loving daughter, an independent thinker, the type of teenager I pray that my nieces will become when they get a little older. She is not perfect, though, in that she is relentlessly judgmental about all the people in her town and fiercely determined not to become like them – something that her best friend, who is a seventeen-year-old mother who plans to raise her children in the very town Skylar despises, actually confronts her about toward the end of the book. That scene really showed that despite what a great person Skylar is, she has plenty of room for growth, and she’s open to becoming an even better person as she continues to grow up and develop herself.
The setting of this book absolutely oozes off the page and I feel like truly, Creek View is a real place and I have been there and stayed at the Paradise motel. This is a little thing but something that I felt Demetrios just did so darn well that I had to mention it.
Another thing Demetrios handled fantastically was the romance between Skylar and Josh and, specifically, the sex scenes. They felt realistic, sexy, but not over the top and not underdone (often an issue in YA for me) either. Teens have sex, and for it to be portrayed realistically in teen fiction is something that doesn’t happen a lot and did happen here.
And oh man, the PTSD stuff. The way that Demetrios portrayed Josh’s PTSD and how it manifested itself in every single one of his relationships, how his mind relentlessly tore at him, his memories driving him crazy with their nagging pain, it was really incredible. I’m not sure that I’ve read anything else, fiction at least, that so accurately portrayed PTSD. It was incredibly good.
I just loved I’ll Meet You There so, so much. I haven’t even looked to see if this author has other novels out but you bet I’ll be getting to them if she does. Highly recommended.