Published by Swoon Reads on August 2nd 2016
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I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That's all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl's suicide. Now Nikki's been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can't look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates - almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it's like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance... and everyone deserves to be loved.
I absolutely adored Karole Cozzo’s debut novel How to Say I Love You Out Loud. I felt like that book did such a beautiful job at respectfully writing about a teen girl learning to balance fitting in at school with standing up for her brother who has autism. Anyway, Cozzo has written yet another well researched and fascinating novel about a relevant topic that teens should definitely be reading about. While I don’t believe that this was as great as her debut, this was still a well written novel that managed to keep me glued to my screen as I kept reading and reading.
So Nikki is a character that you’ll certainly have some serious mixed feelings about. On one hand, I think that the defining incident for her could have been avoided if she had done more. But it’s also startling to me that only Nikki suffered any consequences from it since her awful friends were the ones behind pretty much all of it. My point is, I don’t think that Nikki is a bad person in the slightest and it’s rough that so many people instantly judge her based on that one thing. Honestly, I’m not sure how realistic all the punishments and judgements actually are, but I’ll get to that later. While far from being a flawless character, she’s still an interesting and real one. There were various points in the story when I became extremely frustrated with her actions, like what are you thinking girl? As you can tell, she’s not my favorite character, but she’s not the worst either.
Pax is one of the main reasons why I loved this book, though he did have a few frustrating moments as well, but that’s another story. He was such a swoony book boyfriend and I loved his personality so much. Yes, he’s in a wheelchair over a stupid mistake that he made, and that’s why he’s able to instantly connect with Nikki. The best thing about Pax is that he doesn’t let his wheelchair stop him from doing anything. He almost always has a positive outlook on his situation and doesn’t let anything stop him from living a normal life. Though he might be super stubborn and push himself way too far at times, you still can’t help but respect his determination. What makes him so swoony is his acceptance of Nikki. He’s also so supportive and loving to her, he tries to help her make the best of her current situation the best way that he can.
The romance between them does have some insta-love to it, but there’s enough of a friendship built before anything romantic happens that it never really bothered me too much. So the chemistry between them is fairly obvious early on in the book, but Pax doesn’t want anything more than friendship because he’s afraid that he won’t be enough for Nikki. I felt like that was such a heartbreaking fear for Pax, but I also understand that he hasn’t had any kind of relationship since he’s been disabled and he knows that it won’t be as easy as it used to be for him. Though there is definitely some drama between them, I did still enjoy seeing them as a couple, though it would have been nice to have more pages dedicated to them being a happy couple together.
As I mentioned earlier, I did feel like Nikki getting expelled from her school for the horrible prank was a bit extreme. I’m not saying it’s right, but I’ve known kids who had naked pictures of girls and sent them to so many people and hardly were suspended. I get that the circumstances are obviously different since there was no consent given to take these pictures that were uploaded to Nikki’s account, but it still seemed a little far fetched. I also didn’t believe that literally everyone automatically knew who she was and shunned her for it. Another issue I had was how horrible her parents treated her. Look, I get that not all parents are like mine, but my parents would never treat me the way Nikki’s does. They obviously wouldn’t be proud of me for it, but they wouldn’t look at me in such a different light, and not be able to forgive me for this one mistake that they seem to not even know the whole story about. Meaning, I didn’t understand why her parents didn’t get that her old friends were just as guilty (or more so) as she was, or maybe they just didn’t care about it. The whole situation just ended up rubbing me the wrong way.
Though not a perfect book by any means, it’s still an entertaining but also meaningful book that I’m glad that I read. I feel like the subject matter is definitely an important one to read, I just had some issues with whether or not Nikki’s story was totally realistic and also with her parents in general. I did like the fact that she found a new friend at her brand new school, Sam was a fun and memorable supporting character who was one of my favorites! I don’t even want to talk about her old friends because they were just such awful mean girls. So basically, this wasn’t my favorite book, but it was still a solid one and I can’t wait to see what this great author writes next!