2.5/5 stars, I guess? Maybe?
Goodreads summary: WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . . AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?
There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all–the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug–of all people– suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life–a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.
This book was cute… and confusing. Not confusing like I couldn’t grasp the concept, but confusing in that I didn’t know how I felt about it most of the time I was reading. Did I like it? Did I loathe it? I couldn’t tell and it was driving me crazy. Now that it’s over, I’m left with an overall feeling of “eh” and a few warm fuzzies. Not the worst book I’ve ever read but certainly not the most impactful.
I couldn’t figure out if Zoey was really that naïve when it came to Brandon or if she was just dumb. I mean, you spend all summer counseling the guy on how to juggle multiple girls and you still think you’re exclusive after you have sex with him once? Exactly how hard did you hit your head, kid? But she was funny and a little weird and I liked her, even if I didn’t want to invite her over for a slumber party and a game of Mystery Date.
“The next time my dad sent me to the wholesale club for paper towels and soda straws for Slide with Clyde, I also bought the world’s largest box of condoms. My dad never checked the receipt anyway. He just wanted me to show up with the toilet paper and the pickle relish. I gave condoms out to anyone who asked. I also gave condoms to people who didn’t ask. If I heard rumors about them, I slipped condoms through the vents in their lockers in the break room.”
How can you not like a girl who does something like that and thinks it’s totally normal behavior?
Doug isn’t on my list of fictional boyfriends (mostly because I was so got-damn confused the whole time), but if I’d known him in high school? Hoooo, boy. I liked his dialogue with Zoey, although their physical interactions all seemed driven by hormones rather than their supposed love for each other. There were a few missed opportunities to expound on depth of character and that bothered me most where Doug was concerned. If Echols had given me a little more information about his past and what made him tick, this book would totally be on my Leading Men I Have Loved shelf. Here, have a swoony Doug line:
“I understand I can’t have you. But I want to know you’re in the world with me.”
A lot of why that made me weak-kneed is contextual and I don’t want to spoil it for you, so… Page 255, guys. Read it.
The secondary characters—the rest of the swim team, Doug’s brother, the salty dogs—were all fun and had some good lines peppered throughout the story. But oh boy, did I ever dislike Zoey’s dad. Maybe he lacked motivation to be so damn nasty (going back to the book lacking depth of character) but he was and I hated him. If this book had been around when I was fifteen and I had read about this guy, I would’ve figured out a lot faster that my father was actually pretty cool. There would’ve been much less slamming of doors in my home.
As with any cute, fluffy YA book, everything resolves pretty neatly and quickly. For instance, while all the bipolar people I know went on to lead normal, happy lives after finding the right treatment, none of them were completely normal within a month—I guess because they didn’t live in an MTV Books novel. And while I get that the whole point of the book is how Zoey doesn’t remember anything from the night she and Doug may or may not have hooked up, the fact that it’s so obvious how he feels about her and she keeps jerking him around made me want to climb into the book and slap her around a little bit.
Final thought: This book is sexy, at least by YA standards. Remember back when you (okay, I) were an adolescent (okay, ten) and the most risqué thing you could find in a book for teens was Deenie touching her “special place” to get the “good feeling”? I’ve been reading a lot of mature YA romances lately and since this one isn’t, to my knowledge, categorized as such I was pretty surprised by the amount of sexuality. Not just masturbation and “parking,” but also an almost handjob in the backseat of a police car. Personally, I think it’s a good thing. Teenagers experiment with their bodies and the bodies of others. There are also some teens who don’t. Both are normal and I like that there’s a new(ish) trend in YA that treats them this way. Way to get in on that, Jennifer Echols!