The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.
I have two confessions to make about this book. The first is that I picked it up because of the pretty, pretty cover. Sourcebooks has been stepping it up lately. My second confession: most of this book I was not feeling it and I was about ready to write it off, and then all of a sudden it got so good. And then after it pulled me in, I went back and thought of the rest of the story and how it all worked so well to lead to it's final moments.
I am torn about the structure of the story. It's told over Autumn's entire high school career, so the reader is brought through all four years. I really loved this, because a lot of the time authors will hint that characters have a past, or they'll show you flashbacks, but they never really walk you through it. It was unique in that aspect and I really appreciated the risk that Nowlin took with that choice. I'm torn, because at times I felt like I wasn't given enough information, I didn't have a chance to really get to know the secondary characters and there were some moments that felt really shallow. Although, once I got to the point where I was really excited about the story, it all kind of makes sense.
Best friends falling in love is one of my favorite story lines and Nowlin is definitely good at keeping Autumn and Finn on each other's hooks, even when they aren't really speaking. Their mothers are best friends and they live next door to one another, so seeing one another is inevitable and their conversations are always completely loaded. I'm really happy with the way their relationship played out over the course of the novel - despite the tragic ending that you know is coming from the very beginning.
Nowlin just captures the thoughts and essence of being a teenager so well, and I think that actually may have been what bothered me at the beginning. Autumn starts out sounding so immature and naive, so it was hard to get behind her. Then, I didn't even notice it, but she does grow up and I came to really care about her. But if I were being honest and looked back in my own history, I'd have to admit that my thoughts were probably similar to hers and I probably would have made the same choices.
I am just really glad I stuck with her through her angsty early years, because seriously it was worth reading until the end. Even now, the more I talk about it, the reasons I wanted to give up on this book in the first place seem to fit into this piece of a whole that make the whole story so great and so emotional. In the end, I just have to saw that Nowlin is amazing at capturing a period in a girl's life and staying true to her age, her personality and her story.
And now, thanks to Sourcebooks, I have an ARC of If He Had Been With Me to give away to one lucky winner! Must be 13 or older. US only. Contest ends at midnight on April 19, 2013. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter!