Book Review: I’ll Meet You There – Heather Demetrios

I'll-Meet-You-There-Heather-Demetrios-Book-Review-YA

Title: I’ll Meet You There (2015)
Author: Heather Demetrios
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 388 pages
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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.

Review

I’m not sure why it took me so long to read I’ll Meet You There, but boy, am I kicking myself for it now. This book was emotional, honest, and way more serious, more realistic, than I had been expecting… but only in the best possible ways.

The plot might seem simple at first — Girl and Boy spend time together and falls in love just as their respective lives start falling apart — but it’s so much deeper than that, because this book deals with some very heavy, serious issues such as war, post-military life, PTSD, alcoholism, and poverty.

“It occurred to me that we were the same, in a way. Both of us treading water, pushing against forces we couldn’t control.”

At first glance Skylar, our main character, may seem like a straight-laced, never-do-wrong girl. Underneath the surface, however, her life is pretty much falling apart. Her dad died drunk-driving, her mum is on the verge of becoming an alcoholic, and they are running out of money very, very fast. I’ll Meet You There sees her quickly growing up (mostly because she had never been a child, not really) and tackling these very real, very practical problems head-on.

It’s not very often that I read a YA book with a veteran protagonist (in fact, this might be the first time), and I’m happy to report that I’ll Meet You There treats this with sensitivity. Josh’s PTSD from the war, his grief from the deaths of his friends, his anger and sadness about losing a leg — all of these themes surface over and over again throughout the story. What I found realistic was how various characters relate to Josh: some people decided to treat him as usual and succeeded, others tried and failed.

I wasn’t honestly sure how I would feel if I saw what was left of his leg. Grossed out? Scared? I thought about how everyone at Leo’s had avoided it, as if nothing had changed. […] Their eyes never left his face, and they were always smiling, smiling, smiling. You don’t talk about lost limbs and smile. You don’t talk about war and sacrifice when you’re wearing your Friday-night clothes. And I wondered if that was what Josh really wanted—that pretending.

Skylar and Josh aren’t the only characters that are well-developed; most other characters are like that too. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Chris and Dylan, Skylar’s best friends, and Marge, the owner of the hotel Skylar and Josh work at. All of these characters have their own problems, their own lives, and Demetrios weaves their stories into the book so naturally that it doesn’t overcrowd the plot but serves as a much welcome addition.

The romance between Skylar and Josh was a very well-paced, well-developed slow-burn. They were acquaintances first, and their feelings for each other grew as their friendship did. There is admittedly a bit of the whole “you deserve better than me” attitude coming from Josh’s side, though his angst is really quite understandable given the circumstances.

I’m not usually a fan of multiple perspectives, but with this book, it just works. The majority of the story is told from Skylar’s eyes, but then we also get mini-chapters of Josh’s stream of consciousness-style thoughts. Their narrative sounds different to one another, which is great because not all authors can manage that.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

At the heart of it, I’ll Meet You There is an extremely character-driven book. The characters in this book are flawed — they stumble, they make mistakes, they hurt one another, they make bad decisions — but they also grow and develop as people. The story itself is slow-paced and contains just the right balance of angst and sweetness. Highly recommended for those who love more mature contemporary YA novels. 🙂

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32 thoughts on “Book Review: I’ll Meet You There – Heather Demetrios

  1. Oh what a great review -but, Reg, seriously, stop making me want to read ALL the books ahah. I love a great character-driven story, and I’m actually glad to hear that this book deals with very different issues, and has a veteran protagonist -I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a character like that before?. And a friendship growing into a love story? ALL for it. Thank you! (I’m thanking you, but my TBR is not, hahaha <3)

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    • I think you’ll like this one, Marie! I’m not as much a contemporary fan as you (I feel) and even I really enjoyed it. I did find the beginning a bit hard to get into but as soon as I fell into the story it was very engaging until the end. 🙂

      PS: I’m sure your TBR will thank me one day because I keep feeding it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like an amazing book. I haven’t seen it around before but it sounds so real in terms of the plot and the character development. Also from your review it really seems like the characters and their situations are well handled, which is of course a plus with more heavy subjects like alcoholism and PTSD. 🙂
    I may have to check this book out some time; the cover is stunning and the fact that you’ve rated it really high as well has definitely convinced me! 😀

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  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this book! In terms of plot – because you said it was very much a character driven book – do you think it plodded along at any point? Did it lose the plot? I find that that sometimes tends to happen when books are majorly character driven. (Also, is it just me or are a whole heap of YA books coming out with billboards on the front over. I.e: Kissing In America?)

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    • Hmm… to be honest, I’m not super picky with plot in contemporary novels because most of the time I feel like they’re very much a coming-of-age, character growth type of thing, so the plot usually isn’t terribly unique or mind-blowing. I would say that for this one that the plot kept me engaged the whole time, though, and that was good enough for me.

      Probably not just you! But I think I’ve only seen the two, this one and Kissing in America. Are you a fan of the billboard covers? 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do like them (I think it just struck me how similar the cover was to Kissing in America – I actually thought it was KiA at first). I haven’t heard very good things about KiA (well, I’ve only read one review on it but that review was scathing enough to put me off it). Have you read it?

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  4. By now everyone knows how much I love this book and I am so glad you gave it a chance and that you enjoyed it as much as I did. PTSD is not a topic I see being discussed a lot despite the fact that it’s one of the main reasons veterans, especially those around Josh’s age, commit suicide. It’s a topic that needs to be highlighted and talked about and this book does such an amazing job at exploring the depths of PTSD. Josh and Skylar’s relationship is one of my all time favourites. I just felt that the way they came together was so natural. On top of that the fact that we explore issues beyond the PTSD is remarkable, especially since they’re also handled with such sensitivity. I will never not love this book.

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    • I LOVED IT. I think this is the first book I’ve read that explores PTSD, and I was very impressed. I agree that their relationship developed very naturally, from semi-strangers to friends to lovers. I need to check out what other stuff Demetrios has written. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve found some contemporaries recently that have really surprised me with the issues they explored & the depth of their characters. The cover of this book really drew me in & now I know it has a wonderful story to match it, too! 😀

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  6. This is suuuch a great review and I’m too kicking myself for not reading it sooner!! 😂 I can’t even begin to say how much I love this book… I mean, it’s got everything from sweetness to angst, friendship to slow burn romance, basically EVERYTHING. On top of it all, it’s very emotional and raw and I just felt so many things reading it hahaha it’s my first time reading book about veteran too and I think the author handled it very well, especially because it comes from personal experience ❤

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