After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah's future is all laid out before her … that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket—one that will declare her feelings once and for all.
Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah's attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.
But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her.
*I was provided a physical copy of this book for review by BookLookBloggers.com & Harper Collins Christian Publishing
There's no denying that the cover for this book was beautifully done --- I never get tired of looking at rain streaking down glass. :-) Also, I was pretty intrigued by the storyline concept. In the end though, I think the book was just a little too short in plot. I'm all for a fast read but this went by so fast I felt like I was missing something. It just felt like a highlights reel of a story put on FF.
The story takes place over the course of 3 days, telling the story of how 18 year old Sarah came to develop such an infatuation with her poetry teacher Mr. Haddings (a 21 year old "student teacher" from the University of Washington, teaching this poetry class at Sarah's high school during her senior year). Haddings knows of Sarah's crush, even has his colleagues advising him to shoot that business down before it ends up getting him in trouble. On the day Sarah intends to reveal the full extent of her feelings to Haddings, she's walking to school with her bestie when she accidentally drops something in the road. She steps off the sidewalk to retrieve it, Haddings drives by in his car but because of the rain and fog of early morning doesn't see her and accidentally hits her with his car. Sarah is very badly injured, to the point of needing to be airlifted to the hospital where she has to immediately undergo brain surgery to stop the swelling / fluid buildup that could potentially kill her. Sarah survives the surgery, but the immediate reaction is many of the story's characters likening her look to Frankenstein's monster, with the shaved head, swelling & bruising and surgical scars. The story then looks into whether or not Sarah and her family will ever be able to forgive Haddings for the devastating change he brought about in Sarah's life.
There was enough in this story to keep me mildly interested, my problems with it were I didn't find it developed enough and the characters did not feel realistic to me. I didn't connect with any of them and much of the behavior just had me thinking of cliche & overly dramatic soap opera actors / scenarios. For example:
>> There's Sarah's surgeon who tells her mother "take no anxiety now" but nearly in the same breath tells her he only has 20 mins to save Sarah's life and then goes into the "if you could sign here, initial here" business with the paperwork. If his window is 20 mins, why is he bothering with the paperwork? No, in fact, why is he bothering with the paperwork at all? I've never been in any hospital or dr's office where the actual dr goes over that with you. That's why they have desk people! How 'bout maybe scrubbin' up for that surgery if there's such a time crunch?!
>> Anytime Sarah's mother says anything along the lines of "how could this happen?" or "please let me see my daughter", not screaming mind you, just talking, there seems to be some character responding with "you're going to need to calm down!" "Get control of yourself!" It just brought to mind Meet The Fockers when Ben Stiller's character gets in trouble for making a bomb comment on the plane...
>> There's also the scene where Sarah's mom gets in the face of Sarah's best friend, Cyndi, telling her to stop crying, claiming that if Cyndi is crying then she will cry and then she won't be allowed to see Sarah after surgery. Won't be allowed?! It's a hospital. Trust me, they're used to people feeling emotional. Geesh.
That's what I mean. No one seemed to have realistic reactions or situation-appropriate emotions. Sarah's dad was one of the characters I did like at first, how he explained that everyone should consider practicing forgiveness with Haddings, acknowledge that it was an innocent accident that anyone could have found themselves guilty of... I thought, Oh yaaay, voice of reason!! Until when Haddings actually tries to talk with Sarah's parents and Sarah's father attacks him. Oh, nope, scratch that. Sarah's mom, for a large part of the story comes off as super overbearing, but it was nice to see her lighten up some near the end. Her earlier behavior had me groaning in frustration a lot! My very LEAST favorite character though was Luke, Sarah's older brother. He went above and beyond with the horrible comments and immature behavior. His mother writes it off as "oh, he's just hurting inside" but man, I wanted to smack him nearly every time he opened his mouth. But again, he softens some near the end. Some.
Might be strange, but in the end the character I liked most was actually Haddings, though he's kinda pinned as "the bad guy" here. Haddings makes an honest effort to make things right. Explains that it was honestly an accident, hitting Sarah with his car, offers to cover all her medical expenses (though he doesn't really have money to) to make it up to her, really tries to talk calmly and reasonably to Sarah and her family. It's all the rest of them who seem to need work at practicing what they preach.
The other thing that bothered me with this book was the simile and metaphor usage. Not great. Some of them were a little cringe-worthy. However, there was one simile that I thought was pretty good:
Marlisa flips switches and unhooks different machines. All the dangling wires look like a depressed octopus. Kind of a reflection of my mother standing there with nothing to do.
Pamela, another nurse, comes into my room. She quickly explains what she will be doing to me. Pamela lifts the sheets and grips the catheter. Why in the world does she smell like Fritos so early in the morning? Yuck! I hold my breath. Pamela covers me with the blanket and another whoosh of chewed chips.
Overall, I found it a mildly interesting, breezy read that brought up some food for thought about limits of forgiveness. The tone, I thought, was similar to If I Stay by Gayle Forman.