Published by HarperCollins on May 31st 2016
Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.
I received this book for free from edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I’ve read a few books with characters who suffered with PTSD and I’ve always found that topic to be interesting. I was excited to read this book since I thought it would touch on that topic as well as just the emotions and feelings of one chapter of your life ending (high school) and a new one starting. Sadly, this book just did not reach the expectations that I had for it. This book felt very basic. It never really got deep or in depth and I never really connected with what was going on.
This book takes place over an entire night, graduation night to be exact. Our main character, Thomas, just graduated and is supposed to be enlisting in the military the following day. After seeing how his brother, Jake, came back (with PTSD), he decides he’d rather run away without telling anyone. I never really clicked with Thomas. I did like him and could understand his thought process, but that was about it. I never really believed his journey (if that makes sense). I really wish I could believe his emotions and feel them alongside him. The situations he was put into and the things he was dealing with were hard! I wanted to feel them and work through them with him and it just never happened.
One of the major things I wasn’t a fan of was Mallory. I never really understood her role. I understand they used to be friends, but it was just way too random that all of a sudden she started talking to Thomas again and that they went and did all these things with each other. I almost wish there were flashbacks to a younger Thomas and Mallory instead of them having to remind each other ‘Oh, remember this?’. I also didn’t like how she just randomly left. One minute she’s there leading the show and the next she was just gone. It was just to abrupt and random for me.
This brings me to another issue I had with this story. The plot was so all over the place. It’s hard to believe that everything that happened could have feasibly happened within just one night. There were so many characters randomly thrown into the mix it was hard to keep track of who was who. At first it’s all about Thomas and Mallory rekindling their friendship and all randomly it’s about Thomas looking for his brother and drug dealers got involved (I think-it was never really confirmed) and then some older vets got involved and then there’s a rock that Jake brought home with him that he needed to do something with. I don’t know. It was SO scattered. I still don’t really know what happened in the end. Are the vets going to take care of Jake? Is Thomas not going to enlist? Is Mallory staying with Will and get married? Is Jake addicted to some sort of drug? There were just so many things that weren’t really wrapped up or addressed. It bothered me.
Nonetheless, I didn’t hate the story. I’m not sure if I’ll read more by this author, but there is definitely potential. I think that’s why I’m so bummed out. I had such high hopes for this book, but it never really came together for me. I may try another book by him, just to see if it’s this book specifically, or if I just don’t click with this particular author’s writing style. We’ll see!