I’ve heard Heather Demetrios read a few times since I’ve been in New York. As an author she’s pretty prolific, writing both contemporary YA and a fantasy series about genies. I’ll Meet You There is the first book of hers that I’ve read, but now I’m eager to read more. The pacing, the unique characters, and, above all else, the voice completely captivated me as a writer. As a reader, I couldn’t turn pages fast enough to find out how main character Skylar would react to difficult decisions in her life. The romance, predictably, also kept me turning pages. Although there was very little that felt predictable about the romance itself.
The story switches between the perspectives of Skylar, a 17-year-old girl about to escape the world of double-wide trailers, teenage pregnancy, and minimum wage work for art school in California, and Josh a nineteen-year-old veteran who thought the army was his chance to escape his town but has just returned after losing a leg in Afghanistan. I should be obvious from my character descriptions that they both are dealing with a lot of hard stuff. And a summer romance isn’t something either of them are looking for. But while working together at the Paradise, a quirky motel off of California’s Highway 99, they become friends and are able to help each other through these difficult times. Josh isn’t sure if he should rejoin the Marines and take a boring desk job. Skylar isn’t sure she’s going to be able to leave town and everyone she loves behind. The romance elements are not inevitable or smooth or (always) romantic. But their relationship is deep. I cried twice while reading this book and gasped audibly once.
I’ll Meet You There deals with a lot of issues. Poverty, teenage pregnancy, alchoholism, drunk driving, PTSD, abuse…I could keep going. But the book never feels preachy. The solutions are even less inevitable than the romance. And the issues aren’t the center of the book, the characters are.
I sped through this book in an afternoon, enjoying my time with each character, and then reread a lot of my favorite scenes to try and dissect them. I obviously recommend it, so go read it and then come back here and tell me what you think!