Another excellent read! What a joy this book was, well, not exactly a joy to the main characters but a joy to get to know the characters and deal somehow with them with their troubles and the both of them has PLENTY on their plate. The characters Sarina creates are simply heartbreaking and beautiful not just from the outside. There's positivism under the surface all the time even when it's hard someone is there, friends or family, ones they expect and maybe ones they don't. So even in the dark moments I feel like they just have to reach out and it's there. I guess I'm a lot like both Scarlet and Bridger - I don't like asking for help, I want to deal with everything on my own, but hearing both their POVs it's damn sad to see how they struggle on their own when they have each other (and others) to help.
We met Bridger in the previous book. We already know he has a 8 years old sister named Lucy and their mother is a drug addict. After seeing an especially horrifying scene he realized he can't let Lucy stay with her mother and the only thing he CAN do it take her and raise her on his own. He doesn't have a lot of possibilities, he doesn't have money, all of his tuition and board is paid by the college which means he is living in the dorms where he isn't allowed to raise a child.. Taking care of Lucy means he has to stay with her when she gets home from school but also getting her to school and taking her - changing his schedule so he can handle it all, dropping the Hockey team and basically becoming scarce to anyone who knows him. He loses most of his partying friends and the only friend he's left - Hartley - he pushes away because it's obvious he and his mother would want to help and he can't drop his problems on them.
His only positive break this semester is Scarlet whom he shares two classes with and also shares lunch. Things are less complicated with her, maybe because he and she knows that the little time that they have is ALL they have - a little break from their sorrows even and especially because they don't share them with one another.
Scarlet has her own demons, mainly the demon is her father - a very known past Hockey player and now a couch who is accused of molesting his young players. She actually isn't sure it's true but since he's basically an asshole and always was she can't just dismiss the accusations (like her mother does). Also what SHE thinks is relevant since all the people around her see her as guilty by proxy. After a year of hiding away she decides to change her name and go to college, far away enough that she won't be recognized. Also she decides to stop playing, because what she loved became a heart break and also because she doesn't want to be recognized.. even with her name changed people who actually read the news and the articles about her father might realize who she is.. her only fun break is Bridger, while they talk of nothing important, their time hanging out together is precious to her. She doesn't have anyone else.. though both her roommates are nice enough she isn't "like them", they are the partying kind and she isn't a fun girl anymore.. actually she never was, she was always too occupied playing Hockey.
A chance occasion when Bridger is sick breaks the lid on Bridger's secrets. While Scarlet can't really help him, knowing about Lucy makes it easier for them to be together and since they started to be more than friends even with the limitations they are sort of happy together.. At least until her father's bodyguard takes her away so she can be interviewed by her father's lawyer - something she wasn't willing to do and anyhow had nothing to say since she didn't know anything about her father's "extra curricular activities"... (and if there were any), that's right about the time Bridger figures it all out but knowing Scarlet's real name and what she is facing makes it more complicated and not less.. then a tragedy makes it all TOO complicated but only when they are together everything is resolved in the most beautiful way.
I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book, loved both Scarlet and Bridger, mostly the YUM Bridger that while I don't usually enjoy books with kids, he was amazing with how he took care of his little sister, it was so heartbreakingly beautiful. I was really touched. Scarlet has a lot on her plate but she is a survivor, a fighter! But it was also sweet that she is inexperienced when it comes to guys which was such an opposite to Bridger's previous carefree behavior and made us see a different side to him. A gentle sweet side. Well, he was sweet most of the time actually, when it came to Scarlet and when it came to Lucy.