When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.
Or that it would end so painfully.
Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.
As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome? (Synopsis from Goodreads)
“I always knew I would fall in love with you,” he said softly, “but you were never supposed to love me back.”
This book reaffirmed why the hours I spend on Goodreads is worth the time. It came up as a recommendation based on some books that I liked and wasn’t sure if it would be a match for my taste. I hadn’t heard of the author and the simple cover didn’t give anything away. I have had to abandon some books lately, not because they weren’t good, but I just wasn’t “feeling” them at the time. Back To You came at the right time when I couldn’t find anything to keep my attention. I will definitely be reading more of Priscilla Glenn’s books.
I really enjoyed this story. It was a nice mix of a YA (the high school flashbacks) and contemporary fiction (present day as adults 8 years later). The storyline isn’t original (unlikely friends/bad boy/good girl) but the style of writing was refreshing, simple and heartfelt and that’s what kept me interested throughout. The concept of second chances and redemption always piques my interest and this story beautifully covers both topics.
My favorite element of the book was the thoroughly developed back story of Lauren and Michael in high school. Yes, she is the “good girl” and he the “bad boy” but it wasn’t approached like many YA books I’ve read lately. There wasn’t an emphasis on looks and ripping each other’s clothes off a fourth into the book. What a concept, right? A friendship actually forms. Lauren simply sees something in Michael that is sad and in need of a friend. She thinks he is misunderstood and when you meet his family and what he has gone through as a child, you understand her desire to befriend him. You flashback to high school and can remember those students who got negative attention for the poor choices they made. But if you took the time to get to know them, you learned more about them than the exterior persona.
“Everyone deserved the chance to be redeemed, and Michael had gone his whole life never having it. He never got to redeem himself with his father. He never got to redeem himself with his brother. And if he was trying to redeem himself now for what he’d done to her, then she was going to let him, even if it left her vulnerable.”
The alternating chapters from past to present were not as confusing as I thought they would be and really kept the story going at an easy pace. I stayed up way too late reading and it was one of those books you want to get back to right away. The alternating POVs between Michael and Lauren were also important to the story so you could understand the reasons for their actions.
When their friendship started to cross the line into a romantic one (there are very few), it was tasteful, sweet and smoldering. Less is more! It also felt real and natural to the story. Their banter was hilarious and when serious conversations came up, they were equally kind to one another and supportive.
The other characters made an impact even though their parts were brief. Lauren’s best friend Jenn was funny, supportive and brutally honest. Also, Dr. Adam! I loved him so much and was rooting for him, but I understand why the story didn’t go that route. (Maybe a future Dr. Adam book??) His first date idea with Lauren was genius. Pay attention all you guys! 🙂 Erin was also a force to be reckoned with. She maybe taught Michael and Lauren more about forgiveness and love better than they could have figured out on their own.
Another favorite part was the discussion of psychology: repression (the subconscious) vs. suppression (choice). No psycho babble but just a quick refresher on why we choose to forget certain events in our lives to survive. But sometimes no matter if you choose to forget painful moments you still act in a certain way because of those experiences. You can’t help it. You really don’t mean to. You are programmed.
“Well, sometimes if something is really important to you, it gets stuck in your body,” he said, poking her ribs and making her laugh. “So even if your mind thinks that it’s gone, it’s still in there, kind of hiding inside of you, just waiting for you to remember. It never goes away.”
Oh, I almost forgot, the music element. There weren’t many references to music, only one. Coldplay’s Fix You. It was nothing short of perfection in relation to the story. That is all. 🙂
Overall, Michael and Lauren’s story of friendship is one I will remember. It’s hard enough to navigate through high school without the added trauma and dysfunctional family. When you have at least one person on your side who doesn’t care what other people think and gets to know the real you, things will be ok.
“You know something, Red? … I think we got a good thing going on here.”