by Kat Spears
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Format: Thanks to St. Martin's for providing me a finished copy to read and honestly review.
Luke Grayson's life might as well be over when he's forced to go live in rural Tennessee with his Baptist pastor father. His reputation as a troublemaker has followed him there, and as an outsider, Luke is automatically under suspicion by everyone from the principal at his new school to the local police chief. His social life is no better. The new kid in town is an easy target for Grant Parker, the local golden boy with a violent streak who has the entire community of Ashland under his thumb.
But things go topsy-turvy when a freak accident removes Grant from the top of the social pyramid, replacing him with Luke. This fish out of water has suddenly gone from social outcast to hero in a matter of twenty-four hours. For the students who have lived in fear of Grant all their lives, this is a welcome change. But Luke’s new found fame comes with a price. Nobody knows the truth about what really happened to Grant Parker except for Luke, and the longer he keeps living the lie, the more like Grant Parker he becomes.
You know what I love and hate about this book? That the main character is an antihero. He's someone you want to root for because he's a total underdog, but he's definitely not going to let you root for him. That would be too easy.
Luke moves from Washington, D.C. to Rural-Town, Tennessee to live with his preacher father that he barely knows. He's branded an instant outsider by his band t-shirts and the fact that the town doesn't get new people very often (if ever). After getting bullied and embarrassed by the town's golden boy, he fights back and finds himself in the odd situation of taking Grant's place in his absence. He starts dating Grant's girlfriend, sitting in his prized lunch table seat, and going to the popular parties-- not the weird role-playing parties in the woods that his initial friend Don took him to.
I have COMPLICATED feelings on this one. While Jason from Breakaway became an instant book boyfriend for me, I know Luke is never going anywhere near that status. Every time I started getting my hopes up that Luke was going to have a breakthrough, he would fuck it up. I wanted to like and understand him, but he just kept getting in his own way. He's not the the overlooked kid with the heart of gold.... actually he's an average angsty teenage boy with cowardly tendencies. It's tough reading about someone who never has their "moment" of growth. Luke is who Luke is, but it makes the book feel more real.
I do love reading from a boy POV. There's something about boy's random vulgar, immature thoughts that I relate to in ways that are probable not normal. And then there's Delilah, the Police Chief's daughter who I kind of wished this book was really about. She liked Luke (for reasons that are unclear to me), but she also didn't care about his bullshit. She's only in the book when she feels like talking to Luke, and that's really not often enough.
It's an interesting look at bullying and crowd mentality, but Luke is so frustrating that it's hard to separate my other feelings about it. I do appreciate the stories of high school hell, growing up, and being an outsider-- but I also spent a lot of this book pissed off at the characters.
OVERALL: Not a book that gives you lovable characters. It felt like real high school where crowd mentality is strong, people do really hurtful things, and embarrassing stuff happens in bucketfuls. I say read if you are in the mood for a book that puts high school cliques in the center spotlight.