I live in the in between. Between what if and what is. It’s how I manage. It’s the only way I know. Everyone has their way. This is mine.
When high school, cell phone disruption forces a classroom ban, the words on a Post-it note spark a sticky romance between two unlikely friends. Transfer student Talia Vanderbilt has one goal at her new school: to blend in with the walls. Lagan Desai, basketball captain and mathlete, would do just about anything to befriend the new girl. One Post-it note at a time, Lagan persuades Talia to peel back her heart, slowly revealing her treasure chest of pain—an absent mother, a bedridden brother, and an abusive father. In a world where hurt is inevitable, the two teens search for a safe place to weather the storms of life. Together.
Non- Spoiler Review
I am absolutely in love with this book. It's a perfect mix of intensity and cuteness that just worked. If you've seen my other reviews, there were only a handful of other books that were worth a five star rating in my opinion. Every aspect of this book appealed to me; there wasn't a single part I didn't like. All the characters were so deep and realistic. The ones that you were supposed to love were loved to death, and the ones you were supposed to hate were hated with a fiery passion. And the romance wasn't overwhelming, like I thought it would be. Talia didn't just fall into Lagan's arms the chance she got, there was a slow and steady growth, which I enjoyed. The book really played with your emotions, some parts made me physically cringe, others made me cry, while others made me laugh and squeal with excitement. I really do recommend it to everyone, just with a fair warning it covers some pretty dark themes at times.
Spoiler- Filled Review
The one thing about this book that stands out to me the most was the characters. All of them were useful to the storyline and all of them were as realistic as possible. Talia was an incredibly strong female protagonist and I loved watching her grow. Going from using head movements as communication to actively going against her father to meet Lagan, she showed wonderful character development throughout the whole story, and I can't wait to find out what happens to her once she goes to the shelter.
Lagan was the most adorable and perfect boy. He always knew exactly what to do, and was always willing to risk himself for Talia. Not only was he Talia's support, he grew in the book too, not as much as Talia, but he began to open up to her too. It was just so nice watching their relationship grow.
I loved every character but the father. He was completely and utterly cruel, and I have no idea why. There's something fishy going on in his business, I have my suspicions that "immigration lawyer" is fancy words for human trafficking, but I don't know. His style of "parenting" really makes me think, not only how lucky I am to have a family who loves me, but also why a parent would do that to their own child. What part of his mind rationalizes burning and beating his children and wife. I don't understand it now, and I honestly hope never to understand it. Reading all of the atrocities that happened to Talia, Jess and their mother was horrific. I cried and cringed so much during those parts. I really hope that the next book gives some sort of explanation to his behavior.
The writing wasn't perfect, of course there were a few minor flaws. But Rajdeep Paulus does a great job of intertwining the past and present together. We got so much backstory on the character which brought us to a personal level with her; a level where the audience can genuinely care about the characters. Some parts of the book were written so well that they just instantly brought tears to my eyes.
There's one part in particular that impacted me the most. In order to try and get to know Talia better, Lagan asked her to write a list of all the things she wished she had during her childhood. She begins writing down simple things like dolls, tea parties, crayola markers, and disneyland. I remember having all of these things as a child, most of which I took for granted. The fact that to some people these things are considered privileges is really unbelievable to me.
"The Happy in Happy Birthday, the Good in Good Morning, the Sweet in Sweet Dreams, the Love in I Love You."
Overall, I truly did enjoy this book. The thing about ebooks is that they give you a false sensation of infinity. I forgot I was reading a book, and I forgot that it had to end. So when it did, I was completely unprepared. Thankfully there's a second book called Seeing Through Stones. Now I just have to get it...
*This book was provided by the author to read and review. This is a 100% honest review.*