by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Release Date: March 9th 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, YA
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends—Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou—to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has—even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she’s certain she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him, so friendship will have to be enough.
Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TW: this book discusses topics of domestic assault/abuse, suicide, racism, microaggressions, mental health and illness, and panic attacks.
This is my first Kelly Loy Gilbert book and wow, I am blown away. Beth’s story is achingly powerful and when interwoven by Gilbert’s writing, one cannot seem to escape from the pain and heartbreak that these friends endure to be there for one another.
This book deals with some heavy topics, and I have to say that it is not a book you can devour in one sitting, which I believe was Gilbert’s intentions. When unpacking the heaviness of Beth’s narrative, you have to take your time with it. And for me, taking breaks and taking my time with the novel truly helped me feel the beauty and tragedy of everything that takes place in the book.
Beth’s narrative is one that is hard to get through because we see her give so much of herself away because of how desperate she is to keep things as they were, but things quickly change as she and Brandon witness an event that changes everything. One of my favorite pieces of this novel was how Gilbert navigates the trauma and events that take place in a realistic manner, and how we see each character develop in a substantial manner. This is definitely a book that I felt you have to hold in your hands and feel the pain and beauty that intermix within this group of friends, and how life takes hold of them in moments that one feels they can never escape, but they do.
Additionally, the theme of healing was powerful and Gilbert did such a wonderful job. The topic of music was also incredibly prevalent and I loved how it was interwoven in Beth’s story and how Gilbert’s descriptions only emphasized those intangible feelings that are hard to put into words. And yet, she does so with such lyricism that you find underlying moments that say so much that can be easy to miss. It is with Gilbert’s descriptive prose as well as her complex and intricate characters that we see these themes of loyalty, love, and sacrifice become so heartbreaking and powerful. We are able to connect to Beth, Brandon, Grace, Sunny, and Jason and feel close to them as if they are real people. And it is within their friendship and this profound sense of being there for one another, and truly loving each other, that we come to feel that same sense of healing and love through others and for others in our own lives.
Hi, I’m Elizabeth!! I am 22 with a bachelor degree in English Literary Studies. I love to read and talk about books 24/7, and when I’m not reading I am usually rewatching my comfort movies and shows for the hundredth time—specifically, anything Jane Austen!