Welcome to Refracted Light’s
blog tour stop!
Typically, contemporary romances aren’t my “thing.” They’re fun, they’re great in-between books to reset my bookish palette from the “other-worldly” kinds of stories I tend to prefer, but rarely do YA contemporary/romance books make a home for themselves on my favorites shelf.
Until Katie McGarry. Until Noah, Echo, Beth, Ryan, Rachel, Isaiah, and Logan.*
I’ve been trying to figure out what sets Katie McGarry’s books apart for me, and I think it all boils down to her fantastic character development and the priority she places on their individual emotional journeys. Yes, her books are romances, and I do love a good love story, but in Crash Into You it’s the development that Isaiah & Rachel go through individually that is the primary focus of the book. And I love that — that the romance does not overshadow everything else. Rather it’s both of these characters through the catalyst of meeting each other and finding a camaraderie with each other that exposes and challenges them to confront their respective personal demons. It’s a very real-feeling story about people and life. I just love the characters — the very palpable and realistic emotional responses Katie’s able to evoke from me as a reader from her characters’ feelings and situations. I love the approach with which McGarry tackles problems, that things aren’t always perfect because life is actually a big ball of mess. I love that there are consequences… and I absolutely love how Katie tends to insert a positive adult figure for these jaded, broken almost-adult kids who’ve been forced to grow up much, much too fast. In light of all that awesome, the romance is just icing. Albeit, really tasty icing.
Isaiah. I have been (im)patiently waiting for Isaiah’s story ever since finishing Pushing The Limits. “He’s so soulful and amazing!” My smitten heart cried. I just knew that underneath that gorgeously muscled, tough, and tatted-up exterior was a little boy who isn’t quite as tough as the world thinks he is, and I wanted to know what had happened to make Isaiah… Isaiah. I love this boy who’s so strong, but at the same time so vulnerable, so loyal, who loves fiercely, stands by his convictions, and protects that which he loves with an admirable ferocity. He’s… well, he’s pretty super fantastic. (i.e. Read the book.)
Sent to foster care at the age of 6, Isaiah’s had to become tough to survive the transitory, uncertain, lonely nature of his life. It’s been kind of a bleak existence for him, and until Noah and Beth came along, he hadn’t really known what it meant to have that grounding sense of family — of someone always having your back. This little, self-made family unit is everything to Isaiah who’s already struggling with some issues of self-worth and abandonment.
But now things are weird with Beth, and Isaiah feels Noah slipping away now that he’s juggling Echo, college, and a job. So when Noah admits that he might have to move into the college dorms because he and Isaiah can’t make their rent (on their crappy little apartment that Isaiah’s sharing with him illegally) let alone afford groceries, Isaiah fights to keep hold of what little family he has left in the world. And he decides to come up with the cash by (illegally) street racing, and , of course, inadvertently lands himself in a whole heap of trouble.
And it just so happens that trouble drives a 2005 Mustang GT, and has a complete, and sadly unfortunate, naivete in regard to illegal drag racing.
Rachel. Rachel is firsthand proof that having money (and a family) do not happiness make. While Isaiah’s situation is desperate, Rachel’s is just as much so, just in a different way. Rachel’s family is wealthy and… totally dysfunctional. The youngest of five brothers and a deceased older sister, Colleen, whom she never knew, Rachel was born solely to provide her mother a replacement daughter. Their family exists entirely to keep their still-grieving mother happy, which means Rachel is pressured at every turn by her father and brothers to be Colleen 2.0. Thus, imperfect, introverted Rachel tries her best to be perfect, extroverted Colleen all for the “greater good” of her family. As a result, Rachel is unhappy, prone to severe, debilitating panic attacks which she hides from her family, and finds solace from her stressful life by working on and driving her Mustang. When an impulsive decision drives her to enter a less-than-above-board drag race, Rachel has no idea that one choice could possibly be both the best and worst she’s ever made.
Sweet, quiet, introverted, but also stubborn, sassy, and stronger than she thinks, I loved Rachel from the start, and found her completely sympathetic and relatable. The burden her family forced her to carry, the emotional and psychological manipulation she lived with day in and day out, made my heart absolutely ache for her. Just think how that would mess with a kid’s mind, to grow up knowing you’re a replacement, constantly struggling to be good enough, knowing you’re not the person everyone else wishes you were, and realizing you’ll never live up to the ideal. It’s completely unfair, and I have to admit Katie did a bang up job developing the Young’s interesting family dynamic and delivering the feels.
And oh, the anger on Rachel’s behalf. Oh, it burns.
I love where Katie takes Rachel throughout the story. And, well, Rachel’s just pretty super fantastic… and so is her development.(i.e. Read the book.)
Story. While this story is mainly focused on the character and relational development, I have to say that Katie really upped the ante with the overall story tension. While the previous books in the series have had the characters battling opposition both internal and external, the external opposing forces in Crash Into You feel a lot more… pressing?
Answer: All of the above.
There was a definite palpable sense of growing urgency throughout this book that I didn’t necessarily feel in the previous novels, and I liked it. A lot.
The amount of fantastic detail that went into describing and setting the scenes that involved technical car-ish things is pretty impressive too. I didn’t know half of what they were talking about, but it sounded pretty awesome and credible, and it’s clear that Katie did a lot of research into drag racing and all that that entails.
And can I just say, THE CLIMAX? It’s indeed worthy of the name. Holy. Wow.
And… Logan. Yessssssss.
It’s just an extremely well done book from every angle — characters, story, relationships, tension, research, continuity, overall development.
Overall. The Pushing The Limits series continues to get better and better with every book, and Crash Into You is definitely my new favorite.
*I’m being totally presumptuous, because I love him, and Logan’s totally gonna get a book of his own. Right? RIGHT?!?!
10 finished copies of Crash Into You (US and Canada only)