Published on: April 30th 2012
Published by: Self Published
Genre: YA Romance
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(summary from Goodreads)
Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.
His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He’s been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it’s too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.
When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he’ll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn’t limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you.
And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she’ll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she’ll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn’t say before, even if he can’t actually say it.
So, here it is, as promised: my first ever initial reaction video. I’m going to warn you now, there is a little bit of crying involved! I probably should have chose a happier book for my first initial reaction video. But this one deserved the honour, in a big way.
“My biggest regret is what I didn’t say…”
This is a book that you should not start reading before you go to bed because you will find yourself, hours later, sitting in a dark room sobbing over the last page of it. This review took me a few days to write because, as you can see from my Initial Reaction video, I was unable to say anything other than’ wow’ and cry a lot after I had finished reading it and resulted in one of the biggest book hangovers I have ever experienced.
“I knew this was one of those experiences for me that made you grow as a person. This was one of those times that made you put things in perspective and appreciate everything you had.”
This book is about a whole lot more than a romance involving a boy with a disability. The book deals with loss, tragedy and heartbreak but also hope and love and features two of the strongest characters I have ever come across for us to route for, both as individuals and as a couple.
“It was perfect moments like that that made all the bad ones worth living through.”
Jake and Sam are young characters who are both put through some pretty hard times which neither of them deserve.
Through Jake we see the devastating consequences of a silly mistake and watch him struggle to find his way in this new life that has been thrust upon him. I found myself desperate for Jake to find the strength to get through his dark times and was so proud of him when he realised that life could be a whole lot worse, and I think that was a really important message for the author to get across and she did it really well.
Jake struggles with coming to terms with the changes in his life, but even in his darker moments the book never feels depressing. I found myself desperate for Jake to find the strength to get through the darkest of times when he feels like he has nothing left of his life. But it is through watching Samantha struggle and stay strong through her own difficult times that makes him realise that he can be stronger, and that losing his voice is not the worse thing that could have happened to him.
“I wanted to scream as I stood there, my toes hanging over the edge of the dock. I wanted to let a gut-wrenching howl rip from my disfigured throat toward those clouded skies. I wanted to say every swear word my mother had ever taught me not to say.
I would have settled for a cut-off whimper, just as long as some kind of sound came from my lips.”
They say when you lose one of your senses that your other senses get better and start to compensate for the missing one. A blind person will hear more, a death person will see more. When Jake loses his voice he starts to notice the world around him a lot more, from simple things like the beauty of his home and family to becoming more aware of the people suffering around him. The relationship between Jake and Sam is at times bumpy, but was extremely enjoyable to read about. Their relationship felt very real to the situation they were put in, and they were able to give each other more than just a high school romance. They became the support that the other one needed to support them through the dark times.
“We didn’t say or write anything for a long time. Normally silence like that was uncomfortable and awkward. Like you needed to say something to fill the empty space in the air. But it didn’t feel like that with Samantha. Maybe it was because I couldn’t say anything and fill the quiet, but I thought it was more about two people just being with each other, enjoying the slowdown and the rare sunshine.”
The book is from Jake’s point of view, which I really like as we are allowed to glimpse inside his head and see the things that he can’t say anymore. We feel his frustration at having to write everything down, using his “paper voice”, or at having to learn sign language to be able to efficiently communicate. We are able to see the change in Jake throughout the chapters, as each one starts with a ‘count down’ to a specific event in Jake’s life. The book starts with him counting down to the things he has to look forward to future. During his darker times he instead counts the days since his life changed forever. But by the end of the book we are starting to get that little bit of hope back, and the things that are important to Jake have changed dramatically, as he has throughout the story.
“Reality hasn’t really sunk in yet, I knew that. I didn’t want to know what life was going to feel like when it finally did.”
One thing I really love about this book is the messages it gets across. There’s obviously the very important “Don’t Drink and Drive”, but this is not dwelled upon by the characters, and instead of having it preached to us we learn it through Jake’s regret and the heartbreak he feels every time he is reminded of what happened to him. The main message of this book however is to be grateful for what you’ve got, as there is always someone worse off then yourself. This for me, is the most powerful message of the book, and the one that sticks with you the longest after you have finished reading.
“But I had become a different person. One who looked at things in a new way. I appreciated life a whole lot more than I had last year.”
Keary Taylor writes so cleverly it almost feels effortless. She includes the little things, like at first Jake forgets that he can’t speak and tries to talk, then is devastated and completely frustrated when he remembers. It’s these small things that made the big difference to this story making it feel very real and making the story even more powerful because of it. We have heard this tale before, on the news, in the newspapers etc. We can imagine it happening to our friends, our family, ourselves. It is very easy for us to put our self in Jake’s shoes, as Taylor has made them into extremely real and relate-able shoes to fit into.
“It felt like this was never going to end. The world wasn’t going to stop crashing down until there was nothing left of me but dust.”
As an additional note, I’m not one to read the authors note at the end of the book, but in this case I am glad I did. Its shows us how truth life events can inspire such a strong story, and explains how Taylor’s own experience allow her to express Jake’s feelings so poignantly.
“What I didn’t say before no longer mattered. We had the entire future before us to say everything else.”
Re-Readability: Most definitely.
I would recommend this book to fans of: YA contemporary, books with characters who have disabilities/illnesses.
Other Keary Taylor books you should read: The Eden Trilogy