I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.While You're Away Part 1 by Jessa Holbrook
Series: While You're Away
Published by Razorbill Books on October 15th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Once a cheater, always a cheater?
From the moment Will and Sarah first set eyes upon each other, they know that what they have is special.
There's just one little problem . . . each of them already has a significant other.
After flirting with danger, it becomes clear their passion is too strong to be denied. But even if they make their relationship official, there are plenty of challenges in store. Will leaves for college at the end of the summer, while Sarah faces her senior year of high school in their small suburban town. Long-distance relationships always come with their fair share of troubles—mismatched schedules, jealousy, and temptation are only the beginning.
Can cheaters ever change?
WHILE YOU'RE AWAY is a steamy story about a love triangle, a long-distance relationship, and learning the true meaning of commitment.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about cheaters. I’m not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it reminding me of that corny reality TV show that’s somehow STILL airing. (WHY? TELL ME WHY.) Plus, there’s always the issue of actually sympathizing with the cheater, not an easy feat. But While You’re Away surprised me. I was able to connect and understand the main character, Sarah Westlake, and her reasons for her infidelity. That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with her decision at all, far from it. (I want you all to know that I just resisted a Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eater reference despite it’s non-relevenace.)
What I liked best about While You’re Away is Sarah’s down to earth voice. She reminds me of my teen self in some ways with her shyness and social awkwardness. At least one of those blasted traits has lingered with me through adulthood, proving that some things never change, but I digress. Sarah’s perfect boyfriend, Dave, is the opposite. He’s outgoing, a flirt and everywhere he goes, he feeds off of a crowd’s energy. This works well for his and Sarah’s band, Dasa, but often leaves Sarah lonely and put-out from seeing him flirt with so many girls. That doesn’t discount Sarah’s love for Dave because she does genuinely care for him as he does her. However, it gives Dave’s character a flaw in his seemingly perfection. Sarah doesn’t blame her infidelity on him, which I was happy to see, but you can tell that this factor of lack of attention does play into it.
Then we have bad boy Will. He’s new, thrilling and completely off-limits to Sarah. Not only does she have sweet and caring Dave, but Will is also taken. Yet through one weird moment at a party, in Sarah’s loneliness, she ends up making out with Will and later hiding it from Dave. And while she does feel bad about the betrayal, a part of her is intrigued with the connection she felt with Will.
Finally, I really enjoyed the Holbrook’s writing style as I am a sucker for pretty writing. It’s not flowery or poetic in the way you’d find Lauren DeStefano’s or Tahereh Mafi’s. It’s more straightforward realism with Sarah’s conflicted feelings particularly when Holbrook describes her feelings about Will and why she’s so drawn to explore the connection further.
“I felt split in pieces, and none of them matched. It turned out that it was possible to feel guilty and elated at the same time. To be ashamed and emboldened at once. Though it had been wrong to even try it, I wanted another taste of Will.”
If there were one thing I would have loved more of, it’s more back story between Dave and Sarah. We are shown how they met and why they decided to start Dasa, but the reader is primarily introduced right into the infidelity scene. Though, it’s entirely possible that more will be revealed as this story wears on since there are a total of six pieces. I usually prefer reading a book from cover to cover, without interruption, but I do think in this case, it works out well when you’re able to leave readers on small cliffs like this gem:
“This felt like the beginning of something. A seduction that dared me to imagine what might come next. I felt like I’d been waiting for this. Needing it, even without knowing.”
Because of this, I’m left internally cringing at Sarah and Will’s choices, secretly rooting them on and shaking my head at the can of worms they’re opening. It’s funny how that happened. When did I become both the demon and the angel on Sarah’s shoulder? So I think it goes without saying that I’ll be continuing. Like Sarah, I’m in too deep to stop at just part 1.
e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!