Author: Jennifer Echols
Publication: July 10, 2012By: Gallery/MTV Books
I think this is Jennifer Echols best work yet!
"Love isn't something you have to deserve"
When this showed up on my doorstep the other day, you would've thought Santa Claus himself had hand delivered a shiny new toy straight from the North Pole, THAT'S how excited I was!
The cover is beautiful! This book combines several of my favorite things - the beach, flying and sassy southern girls who don't take *junk* from anyone. (Unless, of course, it's a hot guy who happens to be holding a secret over her head.)
Eighteen year old Leah Jones is from the wrong side of the tracks, or in this case, the wrong side of the airport runway. Having grown up in trailer parks her whole life with an absentee mom who manages to bring America's Most Wanted rejects with her when she is around, it's no wonder Leah's a target for the kids at school who've labeled her "trailer trash". In an effort to escape her dead end life, even if only for a short time, Leah goes searching for her next rush. She's always loved watching airplanes and taking to the skies herself gives her both the thrill and freedom she craves.
When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall offers her a job flying one of his banner planes (the kind you see flying over the beach advertising restaurant specials) she sees it as the opportunity that will put her on the fast track out of the trailer park. All that comes crashing down when Mr. Hall dies suddenly and the business is left in the care of his twin sons, Alec, who can do no wrong and Grayson the consummate screw-up. The Hall boys are no strangers to Leah. They're all the same age, all having earned their pilots licenses at the same time but things are different now. They'll be her bosses making things even more awkward considering she's harbored a crush on Grayson for the past three years.
Leah's not sure what Mr. Hall's death means for her job and her horizons darken even more when Grayson discovers a secret she's been hiding and threatens to use it against her. He forces her to fly and she ends up caught between the brothers in a fight that has them all headed into a downward spiral with no smooth landing in sight.
Grayson's plan involves having Leah get Alec to date her in an effort to protect him, but from what, Grayson won't say. Leah isn't sure his plan will work but Grayson continues to push, and reluctantly, she agrees. To her surprise though, Alec falls for her easily and what's even more startling is when Grayson begins to act jealous of their fake relationship. He can't have feelings for her can he? He spends most of his time insulting her. (That's middle school boy code for "I secretly love you but can't tell you", right?)
It's obvious that Grayson and Leah feel something for each other but their exchanges are so emotionally charged, one minute they're like a healing salve for each other's wound and the next, like two cats tied together by their tales and thrown over a clothesline. Things get really complicated when Leah's BFF Molly comes to work for the week, a double date goes horribly wrong, and Leah's mom shows up and risks ruining everything. The truth will finally come out and leave a jet stream of broken hearts in it's wake.
I thoroughly enjoyed Leah! (To put it more bluntly, I LOVED HER SO HARD!) She's strong, fiercely independent and charming in her own unique way. Among her many talents is her ability to defend herself when necessary...
"If I ever see you again," I told her, "I will beat you like a dog." I was no more violent or tough than the next person, but talking big scared most people away as effectively as smacking them. (Leah p. 71)
What makes it even more comical is that she's not a very big person but she does what she needs to in order to survive. For all of her toughness, and she has plenty of it, Leah has a good heart and is actually a good person. Unfortunately, people are too caught up in the stereotypes of where she lives and what she looks like to take the time to get to know her.
As for the the Hall twins, they may look alike but Alec and Grayson couldn't be any more different, personality wise. They're both gorgeous but Alec is funny, kind and always seems to be smiling whereas Grayson is a bossy pants with anger issues. He wasn't always as bad but that's what death and grief can do to a person. It can overwhelm and change them.
All of these characters are flawed or broken in some way which is what makes them so relatable and lovable. What they're reminded of (as are we) is that we're all deserving of love - it shouldn't be something we have to earn nor should it depend on our social class.
They also realize just how short life really is. Say, "I love you." Now. Today.