Tristan Parker is lost.
After living through his parent’s bitter divorce, Tristan surprises everyone when he decides to uproot his life and move across the country with his dad. Disenchanted, Tristan deals with his pain by shutting out the world… until one day, when trying to retrieve a lost baseball, he climbs a tower and meets a girl.
Helena Thompson is like no one Tristan has ever encountered. She’s quirky, weird, and lives in an imaginary world—her only way of coping with the bizarre life her paranoid mother forces her to lead. Drawn by Helena’s magical view on life, Tristan finds himself returning often to the unique girl with the long golden hair. But spending time with her is not an easy task, especially because their relationship must be kept a secret.
When Helena’s mother discovers the truth, can Tristan find the strength to fight for the girl who has awakened his heart? Or will the paranoid woman who keeps her daughter under lock and key stop their dreams from coming true?
4.5 stars — I received a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
So, as with all my reads this week, I was very distracted while reading this book, and had a hard time getting sucked in. But somewhere after the halfway point, this book took hold of my heart and didn’t let me go, making me stay up until 4:30 am to finish it. To say this book finished in an amazing fashion is a bit of an understatement. I arrived at the end with tears on my cheeks and my heart full to bursting. I can’t even begin to describe how happy this book made me.
So I’ll start at the beginning and say that Tristan’s character threw me off at first. I’m not sure why exactly, but his voice was completely unlike what I had been expecting. He felt a bit younger maybe. But honestly, I’d just finished a run of adult books, so it could have been the juxtaposition, you know what I mean? He was also less stereotypical guy-y than what I was used to, and what I was assuming I would get. I wasn’t sure how I felt about him initially, but as the book went on, these unique traits made me fall in love with him. He had such a sweetness to him, a sensitive side that I wasn’t expecting. I really appreciated that he didn’t fit into any boxes. He could occasionally be very stereotypically teenager-y, a bit whiny at times, a bit overdramatic at others, definitely moody. But while those traits are hard to read sometimes, I appreciate that it made him more real you know? And you really felt his growth throughout the book as a result.
I was also completely surprised that this book was entirely from Tristan’s POV. BUT I LOVED THAT. I didn’t expect to, I’m a dual POV lover. But it worked for this book. Partly because Tristan had such a journey to go on, and I appreciated having a boy coming-of-age type novel. I appreciated that we got the unexpected, a Rapunzel retelling that wasn’t about Rapunzel so much as her hero. And I still felt like I knew Helena enough, just through Tristan’s eyes. I understood her struggle. I understood how she came to be the beautiful light that she was. I understood why she made the choices she did. I fell in love with her sweet soul and her innocence. And my heart broke for her even if we didn’t get to see what she went through when they were separated…by that point I knew her well enough through Tristan’s eyes to understand what she would be going through. I loved how well developed she was, that while she had such a beautiful outlook on life, it did not make her immune to the bad things. She wasn’t perfect.
While this book is a beautiful sweet YA love story, Ms. Ford also delved into some pretty deep topics that really got me thinking. I thought her portrayal of the impact a divorce and cheating parent can have on a child to be spectacular, especially in the beginning. I felt for Tristan, and the choices he had to make, the feelings that he couldn’t help, and how that was tearing him apart. I will admit that I wish we had a bit more resolution with his mother, but I loved the development in his relationship with his father.
And I ADORED the spin she took on Helena’s mother’s character. It made the situation so believable, and so UNBELIEVABLY heartbreaking. It wasn’t black and white, and there were no easy answers. There were only long, HARD solutions.
I know I said above that this was a sweet YA love story, but I really only meant the love part. This book is full of so many emotions and angst. I can’t even tell you how many times I cried. Be prepared. There were moments where the drama and romance felt a bit over the top, but I honestly didn’t care. I was all in.
As a side note, I adored what Miss Warren and Mikayla added to the storyline. I appreciated that Tristan had them in his life, and I loved how they added to his development.
So yeah. I may have started my reading experience a bit shakier, but by the time I was finished I felt like my heart had been through the wringer, broken and put back together. I loved it. End of story.