Hey all, it’s Sarah!
I absolutely loved Lauren Miller’s Parallel and Free to Fall. They were the perfect pairing of teen romance and supernatural powers. I could continue in that world forever. When I found that Miller had a new book coming out on NetGalley in a Publisher’s Book Buzz publication, I couldn’t wait to read it. This novel pushed many others out of the way, when I moved it to the top of my TBR pile. I don’t know if I built up this book too much in my mind, but I was a bit let down.
Jessa suffers from anxiety and the only thing that helps her cope (besides avoidance) is her boyfriend. Jessa’s coping mechanisms are thrown out of the window, when she gets into a major car crash, which damages her brain. Jessa leaves her old life and its expectations to live with her father. She quickly befriends fraternal twins Hannah and Marshall. Hannah is working to get a piano scholarships to one of the most elite musical boarding schools in the country. Her stress levels are all over the place, but Jessa will continue to stick by her friend. Marshall has a hole in his heart, which he has had since birth. While he may have physical challenges, he doesn’t let it impact his life. Jessa starts to develop feelings for Marshall, but has trouble letting anyone in. This becomes especially true when she starts seeing things on people’s faces. Jessa doesn’t know if it is because her anxiety is getting worse, a result of the car crash, or something else. It becoming harder and harder to hide what is going on, especially when she so wants to let Marshall and Hannah in.
I enjoy the way Miller interweaves the seemingly unreal with the real. I found Jessa’s mental images of others compelling, though I can’t believe that it took her so long to figure out what was going on. The relationship between Jessa and Marshall was sweet, but I feel like I didn’t know Marshall well enough to really connect with him. In fact, I felt like I didn’t know enough about any of the characters. They all seemed to be only developed on the surface, except for her father and potentially Dr. I. I did have trouble with the mixture of analogies, stick with bruises or stick with dragons, but both together make the narrative clunky. I enjoyed the framework of the story and the characters had potential, but I was not as wowed by this novel as I was by the previous ones I have read.