This book lingered on my Kindle for months before I decided to read it. I don't know why, but I didn't really expect to like it much. I was so wrong.
This YA love story has a hero and heroine who have serious Issues. The capital I kind. Echo's brother died at war, her father married her former babysitter, and she has scars on her arms from a violent incident with her mother that she cannot remember. Noah, meanwhile, is struggling to get his life together after his parents died in a fire, leaving he and his brothers in separate (and not always friendly) foster home. Ultimately, Noah wants to gain custody of his two brothers after he graduates, and to do that he has to prove that their current foster home is unfit.
Echo ends up getting a job tutoring Noah. There is, of course, a mutual attraction between them. They are also united by a desire to see the file that their school's psychologist has on each of them--Echo so that she can find out what really happened to her, and Noah so that he can find his brothers.
The chemistry between Echo and Noah is sweet, intense, and at times painful. At first, it seems like an opposites attract type of story. In reality, though, they aren't so opposite. Noah was once a very nice kid, before his family was torn apart, and even now that he's experienced the darker side, he still has a lot of honor. Echo has spent a significant amount of time as a social outcast. They both want to regain some kind of normal in their lives. The difference is, Echo thinks that normal means social popularity, and part of her development is figuring out what real friends are. The relationship development felt natural, and I totally believed that these two people could make a real and lasting connection. Noah is surprisingly gentle with Echo, and fully accepting of her in a way that no one else is.
The character development for both Noah and Echo is absolutely heartbreaking. From the start, I was deeply worried for Noah and his brothers, and unsettled about the fact that he wanted to become their guardian. Echo's grief over her brother and he fight for mental health is as frighteningly honest as I've ever seen in a YA novel.
The secondary characters are fantastic. Beth and Isiah, Noah's best friends, are darkly intriguing and just begging for their own books.
Overall, this is seriously such a great book. It's well written and extremely emotional. Easily the best reading experience I've had in a long time. 5 stars.