Macdonald’s engrossing latest convincingly expresses the afflictions of a young woman in a toxic relationship.
The high school junior Lisa McIntyre has always struggled with forming new friendships. Pursuing a romantic relationship is not something on her mind among the usual worries of junior year. But when the handsome and ambitious Tiegan Carpenter comes into her life, Lisa opens both her mind and heart to him. But after they start college, Lisa’s youthful bliss is undercut by Tiegan’s controlling and egocentric behavior: behind the façade of charm and care, there’s young man who wants Lisa to do things his own way. As her life turns upside down, Lisa begins to realize she must sort out her own priorities. Lisa’s personality—a bit socially awkward and prone to strong emotions—imbues this moving story with both individuality and charm. Through Lisa, Macdonald skillfully depicts the inner struggles of a girl on the brink of womanhood, impatient to make all her romantic dreams come true. Tiegan’s misogynist mentality is somewhat stereotyped, but he is thoroughly convincing.
With its exploration of universal themes of suicide, bullying, and toxicity in a relationship and a deeply-realized, relatable cast of characters, this novel will appeal to both lovers of romance and YA contemporary.