Author: Nicole Quigley
Publication: September 25, 2012
"I had walked into the middle of his own personal rebellion. Most of our
friends partied and broke their parents' rules. He talked about God and
broke his friends' rules."
For Missy Keiser,
returning to Anna Maria Island, Florida, means two things: her mother
made another poor decision with men, and Missy will have to reenter a
world where she’s known as “Messy,” a social pariah who dared to have a
crush on Sam King, the most popular boy in school.
But much has
changed in the three years she’s been away. Missy’s next-door neighbor
is no longer an elderly woman but Josh, an intriguing boy who seems
genuinely interested in her. At school, she’s surprised to find few
people remember who she once was. And any remaining taunts of Messy are
silenced when Sam King gives her his nod of approval.
things seem to be perfect, Josh’s sudden distance, her mother’s latest
relationship implosion, and her brother’s strange behavior threaten to
ruin it all. Missy is forced to decide between the boy she’s always
wanted, a boy who is intent on trying to save her, and the brother she’s
known all her life. And her decision could have consequences she can
Thank you Netgalley and Zondervan for this e-ARC. This is a beautifully written story with a powerful message about love, forgiveness and discovering your true worth. Missy has not had the easiest life, whether it be because of her mother's reckless lifestyle or the bullying she's endured at the hands of her classmates and my heart broke for her. She may have left Middle School as an awkward preteen but when she returns to start the second half of her Junior year, she's anything but awkward and everyone is taking notice, including Sam, the school's "It" boy she's crushed on for years. Missy is so caught up in the past and the way she was treated before that she can't see how beautiful she is now so all the attention she receives is nerve racking for her.
Sam and the popular crowd are all Missy has ever wanted and she's convinced that if she can just fit in, it will mean she's finally worth being loved. Missy soon discovers that getting everything we think we want can still leave us feeling empty and unsatisfied. (Been there. Done that.) Josh, her next door neighbor is cute, kind and popular in his own way but seems to prefer hanging out with his youth group friends over the regular teen party scene. Josh also has a front row seat to the mess that is Missy's home life but instead of judging or gossiping about it, he's just there for her. He shares his faith with Missy, trying to get her to see that she's worth more than what some boys want from her and that God's grace is enough to cover anything we could ever do. Josh also has a way of showing up at just the right time which only adds to his swoonability. Missy isn't sure what to make of Josh's God but can't deny that she like the way she feels about herself when she spends time with Josh. Sam is nice too and he also makes her feel all the feels but she isn't convinced Sam understands her the way Josh does. Missy soon finds herself caught between her feelings for both boys but the drama of her home life always seems to take center stage.
Her Mom continues to make poor choices but she crosses a line when she decides to get involved with someone who has influence in Missy's brother, Robby's life. Missy's status at school seems to hit and all time high and just when she thinks her life couldn't get any better, tragedy strikes, bringing with it a storm that leaves her devastated and guilt-ridden for the boy she couldn't save. Things go from bad to worse when the one person she wants most pulls away with no explanation leaving her alone and hurt. In a gut-wrenching conclusion that left me glued to my seat, Missy finally has to decide what she believes about herself, her life and whether or not God really does exist.
I really enjoyed this! These are strong characters, the topics relevant to today's teens and the message wasn't pushy or preachy. I'm also familiar with the area in the book (I have family in Sarasota and Bradenton) which always makes a book more interesting. I look forward to seeing what Nicole Quigley comes up with next.