Normally, I am a sucker for a 24-hour romance/plot/whathaveyou, but I soon realized, I am equally a sucker for this set-up too. Spencer and Hope’s story begins when she moves next door. Spencer’s thirteen-year-old heart and brain can’t stop staring at this beautiful girl who likes to hang out with him they- ride bikes, hike, she genuinely seems interested when he drops knowledge about insects, and, best of all, she doesn’t mind his Tourettes. She’s equally enamored of him but his older brother, Dean, isn’t too bad either. From the line of girls that she sees climbing in through his window in the middle of the night, he knows it too. Hope’s other hobby is emailing/writing her sister who travels the world, helping out with various humanitarian groups. Hope idolizes her and wants to follow in her footsteps one day, and has it all mapped out on the walls of her room. They are covered in letters, drawings, and maps from Janie, and when she graduates high school, she’ll get to add her adventures. Alas, nothing happens in this first summer beyond friendship and unrequited crushes.
Thankfully, they have more than that first summer. Rachael Allen lets the reader experience the ups and downs of being a teenager, growing up, first (and second) loves, fitting in, and dealing with unbelievable tragedy all while Spencer and Hope grow as characters. The story follows the two through high school, skipping over the mundane and only showing the parts that really matter. Spencer always thought Hope would be his first kiss, but that isn’t how fate planned it. Hope’s perfect life is upended in ways she could never imagine, causing her to spiral into a person that neither she nor Spencer recognizes, and not in a good way. And, at one point, his Tourette’s Syndrome is causing more harm than anyone realized. I’d love to say the two remained friends through the good and the bad, but that wasn't always the case. Realistic portrayals of grief, heartbreak, and eventually forgiveness, are lessons anyone can learn from when reading this. I absolutely adored Spencer and his southern baking step-mom, Pam. Lots of minor characters who support both of them round out the cast. Told in alternating points of view, spanning five years, Spencer and Hope’s story will give you all the feels.