Seventeen year old Bianca Grey had a not so usual teenage life. Adopted with an abusive foster mother and unpopular at Philadelphia High School, Bianca found peace with her artistic talents. Pete Carrara Jr., had a different life. He was popular in school, musically talented with good looks and brains. Pete had the ideal perfect life with the perfect family and friends. Love had never crossed his mind until one day when he ran into Bianca. That very day, he thought love to be very possible.
Bianca was guarded and had never let anyone get close to her. No one knew she was adopted, not even the school. The more Pete got to know her, the more he fell in love with her. Bianca was not so certain on how much Pete should know about her personal life but the more she learned about Pete, the more she cared for him. With him, her complicated life wasn’t so complicated anymore.
Their young romance blossomed through the difficulty of a drama filled high school and a series of mysterious killings in the city. But just when Pete thought that things were perfect with Bianca, her past surface. Can their love overcome the scariest reality out there, the so called life?
First off, let me say that I do enjoy reading books from the YA and NA genres even though I rarely feel a connection to the characters. I was not a normal teenager, so I really don’t get the whole teen angst that permeates so many of the books in these classifications. Generally, when reading these genres I stick to the sci-fi, fantasy, or paranormal books simply because I find them more enjoyable- it has to do with my obsession with literary analysis via Joseph Campbell’s hero cycle more than anything. (Yes, my inner scholar is rearing her head again.) That being said, I have to say that this book was absolutely incredible. I cannot find anything in this one that would make me inclined to give it less than a perfect 10.
Even though it gives off the vibe from time to time, it is so much more than a story about two young people from opposite sides of the tracks. The story explores the development of a relationship between two individuals that are so much more than the stereotypes they originally represent.
Bianca is the good girl- she is quiet, smart, and the perfect student. Her world is very limited because of the circumstances of her upbringing and the profound effect it has had on her development. She doesn’t see herself as pretty even though she manages to catch the attention of the hottest guy in school. She favors jeans, tees, flannel, and her Converses to the fitted clothes and heels so many of the other girls wear.
Pete is the bad boy- he is cute, rich, and can charm the pants off any girl he wants. He has the money and freedom to spend his time as he sees fit. He goes to the bar on school nights and hooks up with random college girls. When he sets his sights on a new conquest, he never hears the word no. He’s the type of guy who is perfectly content to take his pleasure where he can and not worry about calling later.
These two move in entirely different circles and the likelihood of their paths crossing are less than zero when a strange twist of fate brings them face to face.
The development of love between two younger people is often hard to accept. So many people think that people under a certain age cannot possibly understand what love really is. The author touches on that very thing fairly often with respects to Bianca’s feelings for Pete. She knows she cares about him, but she doesn’t believe that she can call those feelings love. Now Pete on the other hand knows he is head over heels in love pretty much from the get go. I honestly have to side with Pete but when I was young, I myself had Bianca’s attitude.
(Now this is where my personal experience comes into play and shadows how I view the story. I started dating my husband when I was only seventeen. The way Pete and Bianca are with each other reminds me of what my husband and I shared all those years ago. And after almost eighteen years together, I can say without a doubt that young people can and do find enduring love. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I have high hopes for Pete and Bianca.)
I like the way the author depicts the characters. They are complex and the important ones grow and change throughout the story. Other character change as well, some of them deteriorate becoming a much more shallow version of the person they once were. Much like real teens, they are all trying to find their niche in life. I believe that those we interact with help shape the person we become- one life can have a profound impact on another and I think the author explores this concept beautifully.
The story was well written. It flowed naturally and even the most mundane scenes kept me riveted. I wanted to know the details of every day they had together, even if it was nothing more than stolen kisses between classes. Nothing felt forced or fake in the plot and there were unexpected elements that left me wondering just where the story might be heading.
It was a powerful and emotional read. There were moments of tenderness and love but also uncertainty, suspense, anger, and jealousy. I cannot think of a time in my adult life I have been so moved by a story like this. I look forward to more from this author and hope that she plans to tell more of Bianca’s story.