When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend—until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.
I requested this book from NetGalley because I was in the mood for some YA and summer was in the title. Pretty simple stuff – but the story I got was anything but. I thought it was going to be a quick little fluff read, but this book dealt with some heavy, important themes that affect today’s teenagers. Alcoholic parents, racism, autism, abandonment, divorce, mental illness, personal safety, teenage sexuality. I wasn’t expecting the depth of the story that I got, but I loved it.
Taken apart, you might think it tried to cover too much, but Antony handled it all brilliantly and with great balance, sensitivity, and mindfulness. The main character, Ace (love that name for her!), is mature far beyond her years. Her dad has checked out of the family, and is there but not really there. Her mother is an alcoholic, a family secret. Her younger brother has autism. And Ace is the glue to hold them all together, forgetting about her own needs, to tend to her family. Until this summer, when her father relocates them to the casino at Cherokee, North Carolina for the summer, and Ace meets John, a member of the Cherokee tribe, and another teen with more on his plate than he should have, and they find themselves drawn together as if they were meant to be. These kids are dealing with issues they should never have to, and are doing it well, and try to carve out something for them as well. However, things start to fall apart and unravel, and things come to a head when Ace disappears suddenly.
I really enjoyed this read, and read not just the responsibility that these characters bore, but also their fear, their desperation to have a typical life, even guilt over wanting to have something for them. I was really rooting for these two!! This book was fantastic, and I highly recommend it!
Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!