Can I just say that every time I get an email notification saying I was picked for a blog tour by Fantastic Flying Book Club, I literally squeal with delight? It’s so great to get this kind of news, and I’m so thankful to be a blog host for this amazing group! Here’s my next tour with FFBC, for a very cute YA Contemporary novel. I also get to do a playlist for this one, which we all know how much I love playlists! Click on the banner for the tour schedule and continue on with this journey!
Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.
When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.
But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?
Katy’s debut novel, Kissing Max Holden, was published August 1, 2017, and her sophomore effort, The Impossibility of Us, released July 31, 2018. Her third novel, How the Light Gets In, will be out August 6, 2019. All three books are with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. She’s represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Agency.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley, Fantastic Flying Book Club, and Swoon Reads for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
Content Warnings: Drug Abuse, Alcohol Abuse, Suicide, Possible Murder/Suicide, Parental Abandonment, Death, Depression, Grief, Teenage Pregnancy
Wow, I can’t get over what I read. It was truly an amazing novel, and I think Upperman did an amazing job with this story. I’m slowly becoming a fan of contemporary, and this book really turned me on to try more contemporary books.
Callie Ryan is the protagonist in this novel. She is dealing with immense depression, grief, and guilt over the death of her younger sister Chloe. It has almost been a year since Chloe died in Bell Cove, and Callie feels extremely guilty that she was not able to save her sister. She is a broken girl, resorting to smoking weed to dull her senses, and the loss of her sister has completely broken her. This story is about her journey to start living again, although for the longest time she has not allowed herself to be happy because of the guilt she harbors over what happened to Chloe.
“Usually I’m Callie, but it’s my full name, Calliope, pronounced sternly, when I’ve done something to upset him. He saves Cal for the times he’s feeling lighthearted, or when he’s trying to force lightheartedness.”Callie, Chapter 2
Tucker Morgan is the boy she meets in Bell Cove at her aunt’s house. He was hired by Aunt Lucy to be her landscape specialist (yard boy) and help turn the outside of the Stewart House into something wonderful. He is a college student that is also hiding some dark feelings, but is extremely respectful of Callie’s space and moods, and is constantly making sure she moves at her pace. He is a swimmer like Callie and Chloe, and that’s one of the things they share in common.
“Tucker Morgan. Lucy hired me as her landscape specialist, known also by its less glamorous title: yard boy.”Tucker’s first words to Callie, Chapter 6
Aunt Lucy is the new owner of the Stewart House, and Callie’s guardian over the summer. She was with Callie trying to find Chloe the night that she died, and she is also going through some emotional trauma from her divorce from her ex-husband. She does her best to try to get Callie to open up and talk about her feelings, and is patient with Callie’s outbursts and foul treatment of her during the summer.
Chloe and Isaac are mentioned during some flashbacks that Callie has, and while Issac plays an important role in the summer that Chloe died, we don’t really get to see much of him. It is important to note that he was a good guy during that summer, and was extremely understanding of Callie and never forced her to do anything she didn’t want to do.
We also meet other minor characters such as Drew and Brynn (Tucker’s best friends), Shirley (Lucy’s book club buddy), and Benjamin (Tucker’s dad) while in Bell Cove, with Callie’s mom and dad making brief phone call appearances.
Callie is dealing with the loss of her sister Chloe, but it’s clear that the entire Ryan family is falling apart. Callie resorts to getting high to mask the pain, her grades dismal and quitting the swim team. She’s not herself after Chloe dies, and it’s understandable. When Callie’s dad finds her high in her bathroom yet again, he gives her a decision to make. She can either go to a behavior modification camp in Montana, or go help Aunt Lucy with the Bed & Breakfast renovations in Bell Cove. Knowing that the last time Callie ever saw her sister alive was in Bell Cove, she’s hesitant to go back there, but since she made a promise that year, she ends up choosing Bell Cove.
While she works on the renovations with her aunt, she starts to question whether she’s being haunted by Chloe, because her sister’s things keep showing up in her room or in other parts of the house for her to find, along with red poppies. She does whatever she can to communicate with her sister, because all she wants to do is see her again.
During this, she starts to get to know Tucker, who has also been dealing with grief of his own, and they come to an understanding and end up developing a friendship. For the first time since Chloe died, Callie is able to laugh again, to smile, and to be happy. She learns how to move on, and how to keep living, even if she has been punishing herself to never feel happy again.
I really like how Upperman made it clear that Tucker and Issac were the kind of boys that would ask for consent before doing anything with Callie. Callie would almost be surprised when Tucker doesn’t kiss her right away, or move faster than she’s ready to, but she also appreciates it. This concept of consent during any kind of relationship is so important and I rarely see that in novels lately, so it’s always refreshing to see that.
“He squeezes my hand. “Is this all right?” I nod because I don’t trust my voice to remain steady. But it is all right. Better than all right.”Chapter 24
“…but when he whispers, “You’re sure?” I nod without hesitancy, because yes, I am very, very sure.Chapter 46
The initial contact between Brynn (a girl, and Tucker’s best friend) and Callie went so much better than I hoped for. Immediately, Brynn was warm and welcoming, and wanted to spend girl time with Callie. She wanted her to feel a part of Bell Cove, and there was no instance of girl on girl fighting over a guy, or at all, just because they were the two main girls in Tucker’s life. That was seriously refreshing, and I love female friendships that start from the get go.
Brynn huffs. “Ignore me? You’re the one who’s been hogging the new girl. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I’d like some female company after hanging out with the two of you for so long?”Brynn to Tucker when she first meets Callie, Chapter 18
This is also kind of small, but I liked it. Isaac is part Korean, and Drew “could have a Polynesian background.” Drew’s last name is Taupo, which originates from New Zealand, so Callie was close but never confirmed.
I also liked that while Callie made an assumption about Drew in the beginning, she was able to learn from that and make a better judgment on his character after actually talking with him and getting to know him. She didn’t allow her first impressions to cloud her judgment forever.
“Maybe it’s the regret I feel at having judged him unfavorably when now he’s being so decent.”Chapter 44
I’m upset that it’s over?
Also some minor grammatical errors here and there, but I trust they will be fixed upon publication.
I think the way that Upperman handled Callie’s grief and depression was really great. I could feel it in my bones. Every time Callie ended up falling asleep in the middle of the day, just exhausted from barely doing anything, I could relate to her because I go through that all the time. The way that Upperman showed Callie coming out of her grief and learning to let someone like Tucker in was fabulous. I was rooting for Callie to come to terms with the fact that Chloe was dead, but that it wasn’t her fault. I just really liked this book.
Additional Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
As you can clearly see from previous blog tours, I freaking love creating playlists for the books I read. I don’t do it often, so when I do, it’s a great time. Enjoy the playlist that I made on Spotify for this novel, and let me know your thoughts.
Prize: Win (1) copy of HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN by Katy Upperman and some swag (INT)
Starts: August 12th 2019
Finishes: August 26th 2019
Wow! If you go this far, thank you so much for stopping by on this tour with me! Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the tour by clicking on the banner at the top, or going to the Fantastic Flying Book Club page and finding the tour schedule. There’s a lot of amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers on this tour, so show some love and support! I can’t wait for my next tour, and I hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did!