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For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.
But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.
It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.
I’m just going to say one thing to start off: I absolutely love the way Amy Spalding writes her novels. Maybe because she has a similar voice to me and I’m completely biased and all of that fun stuff. But I do. I absolutely love the way she writes. She writes casual, she tells, she doesn’t show and this is how I write. I love that it feels like I’m reading a journal from my best friend. Its wonderful.
That being said, this story was incredibly fun and awesome to read. Its a family story. I love family stories. I have five brothers and sisters and I love them all so I absolutely family stories. This definitely is that. While there is the love story between Kellie and Oliver, the story really centers on the family. I love that Amy really knew the dynamics of a family, no matter how the family is broken down. I think that’s beautiful. So much of the story felt so incredibly familiar to me. While I have never had a sibling that was adopted or found their birth mother, I definitely have had siblings pull away, discover their own path, that sort of thing, so I felt so close to Kellie. When Sara starts to pull away, and feel close to her birth mother, and Kellie starts to miss her…that hurt my heart. It felt so incredibly familiar to me.
I also felt so close to Kellie because of her differences between herself and her siblings. As much as your parents tell you again and again and again, that they love you equally, sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like a parent approves of one child more than the other. That’s the way Kellie feels with Sara and her father. Its the way I felt when I was younger and my brother got all of the attention. He was the sports star, and sports have always been SO huge in my family, and I was the geeky girl, with very little friends and my nose stuck in a book, and my fingers on the keyboard as I wrote. My brother was always the star, even though he is younger, and when he moved out and my whole family went into a frenzy, it was rough for awhile, so this part of the story felt so familiar to me.
Lastly, without spoiling the book, because I work so hard to not do that, I felt a connection with the relationship between Kellie and Oliver because it felt so real. I feel like so many relationships in books tend to be glamorized and that sort of thing but this one felt real, every bit of it and I think that’s why I enjoyed reading about it so much. It felt like a relationship that any one of us could have, and so it felt familiar and relatable and you sort of enjoy going on those roller coaster of emotions with Kellie.
In conclusion (I feel like I’m writing a really bad high school essay now…), I really love this book. I love the way Amy writes, I love that I feel like I’m curled up in bed, reading a note from my best friend and I love that she has a really good way of capturing emotions and feelings. She captures friendship and family and love so well and it all felt incredibly familiar which made for a very quick and a very fun read.
4 out of 5 Stars