Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
If you were asking for advice, Coop, I’d tell you that friendship is the deepest form of love. But society deems the love between friends less important than romantic love. Friendship is highly underrated.
That quote is from Cooper’s father, and I think sums up the theme of the book pretty completely.
Cooper is the high school valedictorian, a nerdy kid who’s never really been tempted to act out, and who has been good as gold for his entire high school career. His best friend is Cady, another outcast nerd who “has always been game for any kind of fun that’s rated G.” The two have been best friends who became especially close when Cady’s twin brother overdosed and went to rehab. They’ve supported each other through high school, and now that they’re near graduation, Cady came up with a plan to do all the things they missed by being “good” kids – the Weekend Bucket List. They are both frightened of leaving each other when they go to different schools, and both are wondering if what they feel for each other is more than just an extremely close friendship.
While carrying out their plan, they meet Eli, a lonely young man who dropped out of high school and has been working with carnivals and moving from town to town. Cooper and Cady spontaneously adopt him into their plans, and they have an intense weekend that answers some questions, but raises even more difficult ones. When the weekend is over, everything falls apart.
Fortunately, they have the summer to repair things before they go their separate ways.
I love how all the emotions are in this book – love, anger, jealousy, betrayal, hope, fear, and faith. All three of these characters are at times unintentionally cruel to each other, and each at different times gives up on the other two. Eli especially just broke my heart, because he had so little to begin with, and was so open and trusting, “falling into friendship” too quickly because he was so starved for affection. In the end, all three of them learned strength and faith as they came together and fell apart over the summer, and learned how to be kind and honest and to truly appreciate the depth of their friendship.
Learning to differentiate between platonic love and romantic love can be very difficult, especially when there is some physical attraction, and definitely at that age! What this book did so beautifully was elevate platonic love to the level it deserves, validate it in a world that talks way too much about finding “the one”, and legitimize the idea that soul mates don’t have to be lovers. It was a beautiful book, and one that I am going to recommend to a lot of people.
Cover art by CB Messer is simple, eye-catching, and perfect for a YA book.
Expected publication: April 19th 2018 by Duet Books