Genre: Young Adult, Realistic, Contemporary, Romance
Published: August 2015, Roaring Book Press
My copy: Hardcover, 384 pages
My rating: 4.75/5 stars
Summary: Walter Wilcox has never been in love. He just wants to finish high school under the radar with his 2.5 friends and zero drama. And then there’s Naomi Mills, an adorably awkward harpist with a habit of saying the wrong thing at the right time.
It’s inevitable that they’re going to get together…but they’re also on the unavoidable path to being torn apart. [Goodreads]
Starting out, I assumed this book would just be a love story. Not only was it super cute in the romance department, but it addressed a serious issue: racism. Walter’s father is a police officer who ends up arresting a minority for a B&E, which leads to an uproar within their city and on social media as people begin to rebel against the system. This problem leads to Walter and Naomi being torn apart by almost everyone, saving that it isn’t safe for them to be together. Not only does Stephen Emond address a very pressing issue in modern times, but he also incorporates the social media aspect of life and ‘trolls’ on the internet.
“Young black men and Hispanics are five percent of the population, right? But we’re over five percent of the traffic stops. Only six percent of these stops lead to an actual arrest, and they give these cops quotas to meet, they tell them to go bring in as many people as they can, so where do you think they go? Us. It’s not just that, either. I don’t drive, so that doesn’t happen to me, but I get followed around in stores. People walk extra far from me on the sidewalk, I see old ladies holding on tight to their purses. I’m not that guy. I’m friendly. Stuff you wouldn’t understand.”
Since Walter is the narrator, we get to see his dad trying to defend himself, saying that he’s a good cop and was just doing his job, that the media has got it all wrong and he doesn’t know why people won’t believe him. Walter, trying to stay out of the whole thing and help his dad escape the worst of the accusations, attempts to just live his life and be with Naomi and gets sucked into the mess when people assume he and Naomi are only in a relationship to help his father save face. It’s an interesting story to read, especially with the romantic aspect, even if it’s a little Romeo and Juliet-y.
“Racism exists,” Naomi said, “It’s not like it only happens when people are online and bored and anonymous. But you picture it in, like, really rural areas, and backwater places. Not . . . here.”
Speaking of the romance in the story, Walter and Naomi are perfect. Seriously, I love them. They’re both so awkward and cute while also caring way too much. I wasn’t very happy about Jason, Naomi’s older brother and Walter’s friend, being so unapproving of their relationship, but that part of the story added a lot to the plot and the racism aspect, which made the novel more rounded. But the progression of their relationship and how they interact with each other was one of my favorite parts of the story, and I hope I don’t forget this book.
“This is the dumbest thing. I’m so nervous,” I said. “Are we like . . . ? Do you want to go out? Do you want to be my girlfriend? I don’t know how you’re supposed to word this kind of thing. Will you go steady with me? WIll you be my main squeeze?”
In conclusion: READ THIS BOOK. It has romance, friendship, addresses important issues, and IT HAS ILLUSTRATIONS AND THEY ARE IN BLACK AND WHITE WATERCOLOR AND ARE SO AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL and I highly recommend it.
Until next time (hoping to get The Raven King soon, but for now I’ll have to find another book ), happy reading!