Title: I’ll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios (Something Real)
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
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.
I really enjoyed Heather Demetrios’s debut, Something Real, for the most part, so that mixed with all the advanced praise for this book had me both excited and a little nervous to read this book. Luckily, I don’t think the high expectations were too bad for this book, and I ended up enjoying it a lot despite some minor issues!
From the very beginning, I was pretty interested in the story. I was a little thrown when I found out that Skylar and Josh already had some history – I don’t know why, but I assumed that they were relative strangers who slowly built a relationship, but that wasn’t the cast. And I think that was the main thing that threw me – I expected the relationship to be a slow and steady build, but it had some history and that history made it seem a little too fast and abrupt for me at times. So, that made the beginning slightly uneven for me, but it really wasn’t too much of a problem.
Skylar and Josh both have their more-than-fair share of problems. Josh came back from the war mentally and physically broken, while Skylar’s life has been broken ever since her dad died when she was twelve or so, if not long before that. These problems make them depend on each other, but it also makes their relationship volatile and difficult. The story is about their relationship and both of them trying to heal their lives as much as possible, together and individually.
I think I liked Skylar a lot more than Josh. Luckily, we got a lot more chapters from her point of view – there were a few different chapters in between hers that were from Josh’s point of view, all short and stream of consciousness and such. The main issue I had with his chapters was that he fit my idea of what can be wrong with the military – he was hyper-masculine, cursing and throwing words like “sissy” and “faggot” around way too much; it definitely felt genuine to Josh as a character, and I never got the sense that Demetrios was condoning his attitude, especially when she had such a lovely gay couple in Something Real, but that didn’t mean I appreciated being in his head too much.
There were some very interesting secondary characters, but with so much focus on Skylar and Josh, they didn’t get as much of a chance to shine. Skylar had two best friends who could have used more screentime – not because they didn’t seem fleshed-out enough, but simply because they didn’t show up in the book as much as I would have liked. There’s also the owner of the Paradise, the hotel where Skylar and Josh work, Marge, a very interesting and loving woman who also could have shown up in the story more. The rest of the cast weren’t fleshed-out too much, though, especially Skylar and Josh’s peers, and I think the story did suffer somewhat from that, especially when it came to female characters that Skylar wasn’t friends with.
When you think of diversity in books, it’s often racial or sexual, but this book had a different kind of diversity: a look at the much-less-well-off. Skylar struggles with money issues a lot more than Josh does, but everyone in their town struggles to some point. It’s a pretty typical middle-of-nowhere town where most people stay stuck in a cycle of poverty or near-poverty if they don’t get out of the town for at least a little while. Skylar struggles a lot with getting out of the town that feels like it’s smothering her, but she also feels a big sense of attachment to it and many of its people, and it was interesting to see that struggle.
The Adult Situation
The only parent in Skylar’s life is her mother, and she’s not a positive figure in Skylar’s life. Ever since her father died, her mother has always been a bit lost, and when she loses her job at the beginning of the book, she becomes completely lost. Her relationship with Skylar becomes even more strained, and she is not much of a presence at all in this book, which is sad but not totally unrealistic under the circumstances.
I already talked about how it felt like their relationship was a little rushed at the beginning, but for the most part I did enjoy it and root for them. I think there was more drama in their relationship than was necessary, but otherwise I liked it.
Things get really dramatic and emotional at the end of the story. I read it all quickly because I wanted to know how things would end up for Skylar and Josh.
I’m definitely a fan of Demetrios’s contemporary books and am interested to see what she’ll write in the future! I also plan on checking out her paranormal series, but I don’t know what expectations to have for that one yet!