Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 294 (ARC)
Source: BEA 2013
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...
I have not read any books written by Cat Patrick or Suzanne Young prior to picking up this book. I was fascinated with the concept, though I know that it draws comparisons to PIVOT POINT, which I plan on reading soon. I went into this book with an open mind only to be quickly disappointed. It is an admittedly quick read because the writing is very simple--possibly a little too simple because, at times, I felt like I was reading something any of my classmates could have written. It lacked the complexity and attention to detail I tend to enjoy in books. And, to make matters worse, it was incredibly obvious to tell that this book was written by two authors. I only like co-authored books when the narration flows, but it was beyond obvious to me that the GO chapters and the STAY chapters were written by two different individuals. The GO chapters actually flowed and tended to stay away from cliche, though they did have some. The STAY chapters were choppy, full of cliches, and all around lacking connection. In this battle to find the lesser of two evils, GO (and whoever wrote those chapters) wins.
The book starts off with Caroline--affectionately given the stupidest nicknames in the world of Coco and Linus--learning that her beloved Gram is in the hospital on her deathbed. The cancer spread and it's the end. This is especially devastating to her because she lives with her Gram and has forged a connection with her that her other siblings cannot relate to. During the aftermath that was their parents divorce, Caroline turned to her grandmother to be a mother figure in her life since she struggled with her own mother too much. That's when the chapter split starts. She can choose to STAY at the hospital with her Gram or GO to a party and come back the next morning.
At this point, I got severely pissed off. The overall concept of the GO chapters shouldn't have even been fathomable. This party was such a big deal because it was a college party. News flash, Caroline, college comes right after high school. You can go to a college party every weekend at some point in your life if you want to. But you decide to go to this one instead of being with your dying grandmother who is the most important person to you in the world. Mere minutes before this decision you were crying about the prospect of losing her. You, Caroline, are just an overall sucky person. I would not want to be your friend because you have a brain the size of a walnut and no common sense whatsoever. To make matters worse, her best friend, Simone, was pushing her to go to this party. Way to be a good friend. This entire decision just annoyed me and I couldn't get over that.
But, ironically enough, despite the fact that I hated the fact that the GO chapters even existed, I enjoyed them more than the STAY chapters. Not only were they written better, which I explained above, but they also told a better story. I found the STAY chapters to be the ones trying to mimic the GO chapters. Badly, I may add. The emotions were flying, the characters were even more off-the-wall, and they didn't flow at all. Begrudgingly, I must admit that I'm happy the GO chapters existed because if the entire book was STAY chapters it would probably be a DNF for me.
Our main character is one of the most frustrating characters that I have come across in a while. I actually have a strong dislike for her just because she's stupid. She's impulsive and annoying. For example, sometime throughout this book she loses her virginity to someone who shall not be named. She chose to take it that far even though she didn't feel uncomfortable, she was given several chances to stop it but chose not to, she then immediately fled the scene of the crime when it was all over and regretted what she did. I don't know, why didn't you stop it if you weren't ready? You didn't want it, but you were totally willing. Not once did you verbally or physically object, you simply thought about how this was not what you wanted to happen. Grow a damn backbone and save yourself the humiliation and awkwardness. Coco, Linus, whoever the fuck you are, you sincerely piss me off. Don't complain about your mistakes when you had the chance to do something about it and chose not to. And why did you choose not to? Well, it's because you're rather idiotic.
Moving on from our intolerable main character, most other characters were terrible too. In reality, I only liked Chris and Teddy, but I'll get into that later. I want to take a second to focus on Natalie. Natalie is Caroline's older sister and she's terrible. In one set of chapters she is a complete bitch and in the other she turns into this perfect sister that was once a bitch, but no longer is. Either way, I despised her. I don't understand how you can patch a relationship up so quickly in mere seconds when Natalie treats Caroline the way she did. Some of the things that spewed from this girls lips actually had me curling my lips in disgust. No wonder Caroline doesn't have a good relationship with her mother, her mother let's Natalie treat Caroline like dirt. It reminds me way too much of how my younger sister gets away with treating me, and this just enraged me even more. The hatred between these two was over-done and over-the-top. While I can relate to it, it was taken to an extreme here that was obviously fake. And while the intended hatred of Natalie came through full force, it sucked that I even had to come across a character like her. Siblings should not be able to treat siblings the way she treated Caroline at times, especially with an adult present. Talk about bad parenting.
Simone is Caroline's best friend. Obviously, in the GO chapters she gets Caroline to go to a party, and in the STAY chapters she encourages her to stay. But what I don't understand is how in one chapter she can be so beyond concerned for her friend that she nearly cries and in the other she is such a terrible person to her friend that I'd drop her right then and there. It doesn't make sense.
There's somewhat of a love triangle. She goes for Chris in on chapter and she goes for Joel in the other. Joel (who reminds me way too much of my uncle and therefore should not exist in this book) is this rocker-type asshole in high school who she has had a crush on for quite a while. I really disliked him and I don't understand what Caroline saw in him. Blinded by love, I suppose. Chris was actually a great character. I loved how he was written, I often looked forward to his appearances, and he was entertaining. He was great and not at all written the way your typical college freshman are, which I enjoyed. However, both boys claimed strong feelings for Caroline way too quickly. This book takes place for a little over a month, so at most she could have been with these boys for a month and they're suddenly in love. Agh.
Speaking of enjoying characters, Caroline's older brother, Teddy, was great, as was her Dad and her step-mother, Debra. But characters with such minor appearances are not enough to save this disaster of a story.
One thing struck me while I was reading and that was the fact that one character in particular was obsessed with the concept of fate. He used the word nearly every chapter he was in. Way to be subtle, Patrick and Young. It was obvious who she would end up because of this. Though the ending is somewhat open, you can figure it all out because of his usage of the concept of fate. Sometimes it seemed almost like an obsession.
I, however, did enjoy the similar happenings between the two chapters. The same overall plot point would be reached in different ways between the two. If someone ended up in crutches, it happened two different ways. If Caroline was crying over something, it happened two different ways. I especially enjoyed the nearly full circle ending we had, but I disliked the true clarification of exactly what road she took in the last chapter. I get it, she can choose to go or stay and this is what happened. In the end she learned from both, but which one did she pick? I was at the point that this book annoyed me so much I just wanted to know which she picked so I could decide to like her or a little more or a little less.
In the end, I know several people who enjoyed this book. Actually, as I write this review, not one of my Goodreads friends has given it a negative rating. So, give it a chance if you're a fan of alternate reality and fast reads. If you're not a fan of such things, than I think you can avoid this book without missing much of anything.
FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any form of compensation in exchange for my honest review.