Monday, December 30, 2019

Intriguing YA Forbidden Romance/Murder Mystery A Liked-It-Didn't-Love-It Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When 19-year-old Jason Covington confessed to killing his best friend, Calvin Gaines, it shocked his small hometown of Telford, Texas.  Jason received a 30-year prison sentence for his crime.  His parents and younger sister became pariahs.  Convinced her brother could not have done something so heinous, 17-year-old Brooke Covington is determined to prove to everyone that her brother's innocent.  Jason warns her to leave it alone, but Brooke hates that she can only talk to him through bars and that their family has become Public Enemy #1.

One day, Brooke spies Heath Gaines, Calvin's younger brother, on the side of the road with car trouble.  Against her better judgment, she offers him a ride.  Heath is angry and bitter, but he obviously needs a friend as much as Brooke does.  Without really meaning to, they begin a secret friendship, which gradually turns into more.  Their parents would be furious if they knew.  The only way to make it right is to prove Jason's innocence.  But the more Brooke learns about what really happened the night Calvin died, the more worried she becomes.  If Jason lied about killing Calvin, he has to be protecting someone.  But whom?  And if she exposes the real murderer, will she be sealing the fate of someone else she loves?

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson is yet another two-broken-kids-come-together-and-heal-each-other novel, but the whole forbidden romance aspect gives it a bit of originality.  It's an intriguing premise to be sure.  The idea of an entire town freezing out a respectable family because of the crimes of one member seems a little far-fetched to me, though.  I also had issues with Brooke, who's sympathetic but also whiney and victimy, which gets old.  While the story is undeniably compelling, it's also sad, depressing, heavy, and melodramatic.  The ending did surprise me and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  Overall, Even If I Fall isn't anything shout-it-from-the-rooftops amazing.  I liked it enough to finish the book, but I didn't love it.   

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry and other two-broken-kids-come-together-and-heal-each-other stories)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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