Benjamin Nefer seems to have it all. He’s the most popular guy in school, the star quarterback with college scouts looking at him, his grades are near the top of his class, he can get any girl he wants . . . but he hides behind his dream life to mask the nightmare of his reality.
Charlie Austin is the new girl. Forced to move in with a bitter aunt, she only wants to protect her fragile mom from the world’s cruelty. When Benjamin sets his sights on Charlie, she’s armored against his charm—friends warned her about Benjamin’s game of pursuing and then dumping a long line of girls, not caring about the broken hearts he leaves behind. She doesn’t count on how single-minded he can be when she refuses him, or how charismatic, easing into her life through what he claims is just friendship.
Benjamin thought he could keep Charlie in the same place he keeps all girls—something to be used and then discarded. But Charlie has as many secrets as he does, secrets he’s determined to discover while keeping his own hidden. He realizes she’s the perfect girlfriend candidate . . . someone he can use to keep up the façade of a perfect life. Now he just has to keep his frozen heart from softening toward this unique girl, because if he doesn’t, his carefully constructed lies might just come thundering down around him, crushing him beneath the burden of feeling.
I don't have any friends that have read this one so I really had no idea what to expect. Especially since I've never read anything by this author either. What I found out is that Cindy C. Bennett writes about horrible stuff. Horribly tragic stuff. I don't know if I would be able to write things like this. Most of the book was completely heart wrenching and I just don't see how she didn't dread getting up in the morning knowing that she was going to have to work on such a depressing story.
You know, I've kind of gone back and forth on my rating for this one. For a myriad of reasons. While this story is very sad but with a lot of depth, I still felt a tinge of disconnect between me and the characters. It was almost as if I didn't know them enough. Now that could very well be because I was trying to distance myself from what was going on in the novel ... like I said ... sad ... or it could be that the characters just weren't fully developed. Anyhow, I would have liked to have delved a little deeper into the main characters. Some people will probably be upset with my saying that because this is a Young Adult novel and come on, kids read it. But that just isn't how the YA genre works anymore. I would bet that just as many (if not more) adults read the YA books than the kids it was intended for. That being said, I don't think that the author wrote FOR young adults ... it was clearly written for anyone. It was a story that needed to be told. Even if it yanks your heart out of your chest, stomps on it and then tries to shove it back in using some tongs and an ice pick.
I know, weird way to put it but just when you think this story can't get any more sad, it does. Just one page after another was more horrible stuff and I think that if one more bad thing happened to these kids, it would have sent the story over the line and it would have looked ridiculous. I know that I don't want to read about characters that NEVER get a break.
The ending was a bit ... meh ... for me. I don't know what I expected but I wanted more. I like how it ended but I didn't. Does that make sense?!? Probably not because it doesn't make sense to me. The story line felt like it had reached this peak and then for the ending to just ... peter out, it was a little depressing. But that was about par for the course on this one because everything was sad. Even the romance was sad. But the story was well written. Except I didn't like the ending. Which I also liked at the same time. Do you see why I didn't know whether to give this one 3 or 4 stars? I guess I shouldn't downgrade the stars just because something is sad especially when the author wrote these depressing pages beautifully.
Anyway, good book from a new author and I'm excited to see what she will write next. Hopefully nothing so sad.