Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hotel California - Stephanie's Gush Fest, er... Review of I'LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios

Title: I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2/3/2015
Source: Stephanie's shelves

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.

When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real. Her other novels include Exquisite Captive, the first in the Dark Caravan Cycle fantasy series, and I’ll Meet You There. She is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for underserved youth. Find out more about Heather and her books at 

or come hang out with her on Twitter (@HDemetrios) and any number of social media sites.

There was something about this book I was immediately drawn to. I'd read the synopsis and love the small town and the idea of the battered old hotel, and then saw the cover reveal and I was in love.  I just knew it was a book I needed to have. I tried to get arcs but was denied and so I preordered, waiting patiently. And I waited. And waited. You know when you have these high expectations for a book and it doesn't live up to them? Well this surpassed my expectations. 

Sky Evans is a real girl with big dreams in a small town where no one goes anywhere. Her father is dead, and her mom is a high school drop out/ recovering alcoholic, who is a total mess. Sky plays the parent to her on more than one occasion, getting two jobs to pay the bills and considering the idea of throwing her full scholarship to art school away so that she can take care of her mom who is failing her.  

Then there's Josh. He is.... Well he's a mess too, but suffering from PTSD from surviving a IED bomb that took his leg, and dealing with the disappointment that comes with returning home not necessarily a hero, but a lost, wounded soldier with guilt and remorse,  learning to accept and like the person he is now. 
Sky and Josh are two of the most real characters I've ever read. Josh was so flawed. He was kind of a bully. Kind of a douchebag. He drank a lot and slept with most of the girls in their tiny town, but he had that charisma that drew people to him.  And Sky was... Smart, scared, cautious and so very selfless and brave. An absolutely lovely character.  I adored them both. 

One of my favorite parts of this book was Josh's pov- deeply moving, one page diary entries to his deceased best friend who he feels responsible for. The other, was Skylar's collages- these beautifully descriptive paper images of her bleak world. I loved Dylan and Chris, Sky's best friends and their close relationship. I even liked Blake, Josh's younger brother and brief fling of Sky's, who was sweet and well meaning.  And I have to mention Marge, the hotel owner and only real parent Sky has, because of the wonderful person she is, and the relationship she has with Josh and her own personal circumstances. So touching. 

I loved that there was foul language and descriptive, realistic, sex scenes and it didn't ever seem dumbed down to be appropriate for YA, as some books often appear. 

This story is about real love, messy, imperfect difficult love. It's about loss, acceptance and bravery all rolled into one. I absolutely could not put it down. One of the best books I've read in a long time. 

I should note that the author publicly stated that this is a tribute to her father's experiences as a veteran and that she is donating some of the profits to the Wounded Warriors program. I just love that.

The Eagles - Hotel California

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