Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary from Goodreads: Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.
Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.
First Thoughts: Well, I started the book at 9pm and stayed up until 2am to finish it - so, I guess it was good :) It is definitely geared to an older crowd, which as a teacher made me hesitate, but as a reader I was enraptured from page one.
This book had been on my TBR list for over a year. A fellow teacher and book club member raved about this book since Colleen Hoover self-published it; I’m not sure what took me so long, but I can definitely understand why it came so highly recommended to me. Personally, I loved this book, however I can’t imagine recommending this to my freshmen. Juniors and seniors, maybe, freshmen, no way.
The connection between Layken (love her name) and Will is undeniable. I was all ready to scoff at two young people falling so deeply in love so quickly. Instead, I fell in love with their love (cheesy, I know). Since sneaking my mom’s Nora Roberts novels, I have always been a sucker for romance novels. Colleen Hoover does a fantastic job building the relationship between the two. I felt the heartache they experienced; I understood the looks they gave across the room; I hated the tension they couldn’t seem to avoid. It was a beautiful (cheesy again) story of the ups and downs two people in love experience.
Layken and Will’s relationship kept me reading late into the night, but what I really loved was the slam poetry at the center of the novel (hence the title). Even as an English teacher, poetry always intimidates me. This book, though, makes poetry make sense - it’s all about feelings. I loved when Will talked about the point of poetry: “the points are not the point; the point is poetry.” The slam poems in the book are some of the most emotionally powerful pieces I’ve read in a long time - characters sharing feelings of abandonment, abuse, love, heartbreak, etc. They give me goosebumps thinking about them even now. Many of the characters in the book experienced loss in life that I couldn’t even imagine, and poetry was their escape, their relief. I loved that Hoover showed the therapeutic nature of words. What’s even more cool? Some poets actually recorded reading Hoover’s poems on youtube...awesome!
So, even though I loved the book and plan on reading the rest of the series myself, here’s why I won’t recommend this book to my freshmen (I will tell our upperclassmen teachers to promote it though):
- The main characters are 18 and 21 - the maturity gap between seniors/college students and freshmen is ENORMOUS!
- Not to give away a twist (it happens early on), but the relationship is between a teacher and student. Granted they didn’t know (talk about miscommunication) when they first felt a spark and they are only three years apart, but that topic is just not something I would feel comfortable recommending as a teacher myself.
- The romance pushes the boundaries a bit for 14 year-olds. There isn’t sex but there is definitely passion. I’m not naive to what my students know, but it’s not something I necessarily want to be a part of.
Final Thoughts: A fantastic personal read, a written relationship that’s going to be hard to forget, but unfortunately, not one I can add to my underclassmen book talks.
Who Should Read It? As I’ve already said, this is not for a young crowd. I think it’s appropriate for juniors and seniors but definitely no younger (sorry froshies). Also, it’s, in my mind, a girly kind of book; not that boys can’t be into romance though. So, any appropriately aged girls into realistic fiction and romance should definitely pick this book up. The recommendation I received (again and again) did not disappoint!