Like her character Echo Emerson, author Katie McGarry suffered from a repressed memory
Echo Emerson is a former popular girl haunted by a traumatic past she can only half remember. A brother who died in Afghanistan, a controlling father and a mentally ill mother who refuses any medication could be enough to push a girl over the edge. But it's the night that Echo can't remember, the night that left her with scars crisscrossing her arms and nearly dead that's holding her back. Withdrawn and edged out of the popular clique, Echo’s just trying to survive high school.
Noah Hutchins is angry and misunderstood. He’s been abused by the foster system, tossed from family to less capable family. Noah is a notorious bad boy, a player who finds it difficult to trust and connect. He remains laser focused on reuniting with his brothers and rescuing them from what he is sure is an abusive foster home.
Both of these trouble teens are ordered to have counseling with the school’s new clinical social worker Ms. Collins. The most hands on social worker either has ever met shoves them together for tutoring sessions, believing they can each learn from the other. They are both resistant and afraid of the change she represents.
This is a romance novel full of angst and drama. Noah and Echo must figure out their pasts in order to improve their present. Inevitably drawn to each other, they opposing qualities help push them beyond their trials. Will they learn to let go so they can create a new future together?
As a general rule, I’m not a fan of romance, but I always love a good story. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those either. Maybe it’s because I’m nearly 10 years removed from high school, but the angst grated on me. Noah and Echo have real problems, but the whiplash between exploring these issues and then the less grounded, run of the mill high school drama makes the story drag.
I found myself wondering when the story would go back to finding out what happened in the past that made Noah & Echo who they are and not all concerned about their social standing/differences. This is in part due to the fact that every character that isn’t Echo or Noah remains very flat. They are only there to help Echo & Noah or push the storyline along, but are not fully fleshed out characters with concerns of their own—unless those concerns have to do with Echo or Noah.
However, I do love that the author included a playlist of songs that described her characters and certain scenes from the book. It really helps to flesh out the world she’s created and give depth. McGarry has potential. Her main characters are strong, but her world building, choice of b/c storylines and male voice need just a little more practice.