It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant that everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages—no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.
I quite enjoyed this book. It wasn't really what I was expecting - it's quite gritty and realistic, and deeply emotional - but I liked it. It deals with a lot of issues - PTSD, difficult family relationships, homelessness, substance abuse - and none of it feels skated-over.
Skylar is counting down the days until she graduates and leaves Creek View, the small backwater town she has lived in her whole life, for college in San Francisco. After her dad's death, her mum has struggled to cope and she seems to beona downward spiral that may pur Skylar's plans on hold indefinitely.
Josh, on the other hand, escaped Creek View a couple of years agofor the Marines. But a serious injury means he's come back and he and Skylar reconnect working at the local motel.
Skylar was a nice enough protagonist - she was hardworking and didn't take crap from anyone. Her desperation to escape Creek View was palpable as well as her terror at getting drawn into a relationship that might see her go down the same path as her mum. I liked Josh too and his relationship with Skylar was very sweet. Neither of them tries to fix the other - they just take each other for what they are (although the narrative does skate a bit close to the wind with the old 'Loveis a cure for mental illness' trope).
It was refreshing to read a book set in California that portrayed California as slightly trashy and not the utopia it's generally painted as (have you seen those Visit California TV ads??) I quite liked the seediness of Creek View, and I could understand Skylar's desperation to escape.
Skylar does have a pretty hard time of it, trying to sort her mum out and deal with her mum's creepy boyfriend as well. You know how all good novels have that bit towards the end where the protagonist is at their lowest ebb? Like everything that can go wrong has gone wrong and it's all 'Why hast thou forsaken me, Lord?' Well, the lowest ebb bit of this book is literally the lowest anyone could get to and still be not dead, and yet everything gets sorted out in time for the acknowledgements page. I don't know. Kind of felt a bit rushed there at the end.
Did I love this book? No. Did I like it? Yeah, I did. Not massively, but it was pretty good.