Published by: HarperTeen on January 29, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Source: ARC From Publisher
Buy on Amazon • Book Details
Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.
They're young. They're in love. They're on the run.
Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.
Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn't always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as âbeautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilaratingâ by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.
What I took away from this book is that it’s less about the romance and more about young kids making bad decisions and learning about the consequences. If you want to be able to appreciate the romance in this story, I think you have to be a younger reader. As a 21-year-old, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little at the romance (but maybe that was the point? I’m not really sure). This couple is very young—15 and 18—and they’re on the run together. They’ve been dating for two months and are already “in love” when the book begins. Will tells Zoe that she means the world to him, Zoe tells Will that he is everything to her, they want to get married and talk about having kids, etc. It’s a very “foolish young love” situation. It’s kind of sweet, but is a little over the top and not very realistic (the romance itself is realistic, because I know young kids do that, but the idea that they can be so young and live together forever and love each other forever is unrealistic, and kids have that unrealistic idea all the time).
So Will and Zoe escape from their lives together (Zoe running from an abuse father, and Will just running away from a bad past), and it starts out feeling like freedom, but bad choice after bad choice causes them to end up running from the police, from the FBI, and watching their backs at every turn. Slowly, Zoe begins to realize that running away has become more of a destructive nightmare than a salvation.
I think it was tough for me to connect to the romance for two reasons. First, they were already in love when the story starts. I think I prefer books where we see the process of falling in love. That allows me to get more emotionally invested in the relationship, since I’ve been with it from its inception. But jumping right into the middle of a romance is tougher. And secondly, I’m not 15 anymore so it’s hard for me to remember what it was like when I thought my first love was so amazing and perfect and that I’d be with him forever. I know I probably felt like Zoe at some point—that I had the best guy in the world (despite obvious problems, which I ignored), and that we were so in love and were going to get married. But I’m 21 now and I just look back and remember an idiot. So I couldn’t help but view Zoe and Will’s relationship in the same light. But I think 15-year-olds who are actually in that same stage of life might be able to relate to the romance and enjoy it more.
I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first half. The first half had more of the fluffly lovey dovey stuff, but the second half was more about facing demons from the past and coming to terms with reality. I finally started to enjoy it more when the harsh realities set in and when Zoe got her act together a bit. She does become a much stronger character towards the end and gained some sense.
There was one thing that I wish was explored more in the book: when Zoe draws a connection to her first love and her mom’s first love. I thought this was a pretty awesome point in the story, but I didn’t see much development with it.
[My mom] married the first man who promised to take care of her.
He sure did.
I look at Will. His face is a study in concentration as he grips the steering wheel, but I don’t think he’s focused on his driving. I can only imagine the thoughts running through his mind. He must be so afraid, so angry, so frustrated. He helped me walk away from my dad, from blame, from being like the woman who wouldn’t, wouldn’t, survive, not even for me.
He’s the first to promise to take care of me.
ARC of Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook, Page 247
Zoe’s mother married her father because he was the first man who promised to take care of her. But Zoe’s father physically abused her mom (and then Zoe herself). Then Zoe realizes that Will is the first man to promise to take care of her. This was an interesting comparison because her relationship with Will is unhealthy. They have a big age difference (3 years isn’t that much, but it is when you’re 15), they’re running away together, Will has a history of violence, he swears to protect her but he also beats up people and scares her.. I just wish we saw more about this connection. Or more like, I wish Zoe saw more from it. I could certainly draw the comparisons myself, but I feel like Zoe could have drawn more similarities herself. I don’t think she ever fully saw how unhealthy her relationship with Will was.
I wanted this to be one of those books where I’d cry and kick and scream and drown myself in all the feelings and emotions.. but that didn’t quite happen. Some pretty intense and bad things do happen, but I didn’t shed a single tear. I think ultimately I wasn’t invested enough to despair.
Overall, my enjoyment of this book wasn’t through the roof, but I did like how things came together at the end. It wasn’t particularly a happy ending, but I do think Zoe learned some important lessons. I can also see how a younger audience might enjoy this book more than I did, which is why I’m giving it the rating I am. I think there is some potential here, I just wasn’t the perfect audience for it. 🙂