After the unexpected death of her father, Layken is moving from Texas – the only home she has ever known – to Michigan with her mom and younger brother Kel. Layken will do anything to help provide a stable and happy life for them all. While she isn’t thrilled about her new home, the most important thing to Lake is keeping her mom and brother happy and helping them adjust to this new life. She’s so relieved when they move in and Kel immediately makes a new friend, Caulder, who lives right across the street. But she didn’t count on Caulder having an older brother… an extremely handsome, nice, polite – did I mention handsome? – older brother. Their attraction is mutual, and it doesn’t take long for Will to ask her out on a date. The date turns out to be the most amazing date she’s ever had. Will is so different from the other guys Lake has known. He’s funny and they have the same taste in music. He’s perfect… they’re perfect for each other. But after that incredible first date, they make a discovery that ruins any hope of a future for the two of them. Now it’s back to heartache and loneliness for Lake. Not to mention painful interactions and, as neighbors, being forced to see the one person you don’t want to. How will Layken ever get through this when all she wants is right across the street?
“All I ever feel like doing is sleeping.
I guess because it doesn’t hurt as bad when you’re asleep.”
Family, new friends, and poetry make healing and hope more than just a promise… these things offer a new reality for Layken. The story that follows is devastatingly tragic... but so very beautiful.
If you read my gushy review of Hopeless, then you know that Colleen Hoover landed herself on my auto-buy list. I seriously love this author’s writing; and her stories make me sob, make me laugh, and touch my heart. Add to that list that she’s introduced me to The Avett Brothers – who I am currently obsessed with – and you’ll understand why this 30+ wife and mother has been transformed into a bouncy fangirl.
Layken is a fantastic MC. She’s funny and I LOVE the way she is so unaware of herself. Whether she’s imitating a zombie to make her little brother laugh, slipping on his darth vader slippers in search of a cup of coffee, or attacking garden gnomes in the front yard – all of these things in plain sight of one Will Cooper – she’s just Layken. She doesn’t put on airs, doesn’t pretend to be someone she’s not. She’s pretty awesome.
I connected with Layken immediately. When my family moved from Texas this past summer, it was the hardest move I’ve ever made. I loved living in Texas, and leaving broke my heart. I have happily adjusted to my new home now, but when Lake was driving that moving van away from the only home she’d ever known… I felt like I was riding right along beside her. It was very therapeutic.
“I’m as nowhere as I can be,
Could you add some somewhere to me?”
- The Avett Brothers, “Salina”
When Layken talks about her Dad, I can’t explain all the feelings I have – he reminds me of my own father, whom I love dearly. It tears me apart to imagine him not being in my life. The memory that Layken shares of herself and her dad following an unfortunate self-haircut when she was just a little girl and the way he calmed her down and fixed her shorn bangs with a purple hair clip had tears streaming down my face. What an amazing father she had:
“I looked at our reflection in the mirror
and felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
I didn’t know of any other dad who had magic clips.”
Her mom is a wise woman who loves her children more than anything in the world. She gives incredible advice:
“‘There are three questions every woman should be able to answer yes to before she commits to a man. If you answer no to any of the three questions, run like hell.’
‘Does he treat you with respect at all times? If he is the exact same person twenty years from now that he is today, would you still love and want to marry him? Does he inspire you to want to be a better person?
You find someone you can answer yes about to all three, then you’ve found a good man.’”
And speaking of a good man: Will Cooper. When Will’s parents were killed in a terrible accident, he gave up a promising football career to raise his little brother in the house they grew up in. He’s been so hurt in life, but everything he does is for the sake of Caulder. He’ll do anything for that little boy, even if it means giving up something or someone he wants very badly. He’s a hard worker, he’s smart, and he has the best heart of any male character I’ve read about lately. I love him. Truly love him.
Another character that I couldn’t bear to leave out of this review is Eddie. If only every kid starting a new school could be as lucky to find an Eddie on their first day:
“‘That’s my Facebook page, but if you can’t find me there, I’m also on Twitter. Don’t ask me for my MySpace username because that shit’s lame… That’s my cell phone number, that’s my home phone number, and that’s the number to Getty’s Pizza…’
‘Is that where you work?’
‘No, they just have great pizza.’”
I’m not going to say any more about the actual story. It’s one you need to read and fall in love with… and trust me… you’ll fall ;)
“‘How do you not fall in love with him?’ The tears begin flowing just as quickly as they had ceased. I grab yet another tissue. ‘I don't not fall in love with him. I don't not fall in love with him a lot!’”
Purple hair clips, pink balloons, heartfelt poetry slams, The Avett Brothers, and all the many beautiful moments make Slammed a book I will re-visit over and over again.
“So you keep your ocean, I’ll take the Lake.”
Thank you to my wifey Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives. When I told you I could not imagine loving another character as much as I loved Holder, you told me this was a must-read series and assured me there was room in my heart for Will Cooper. Have I mentioned that you are NEVER wrong? Reading this series and gushing over it with you is one of my favorite pastimes – I cherish you right along with Will and Lake. Love you oodles and gobs!