Monday, July 29, 2013

Butterflies and Pumpkins: Point of Retreat (Review)

*I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

***

Well, CoHo has done it again. 

5 Butterflying Stars!


Possible spoilers, especially if you haven't read Slammed!


Every single book of hers, I'm guaranteed three things. 

1. I'll cry.
2. I'll fall in love with an amazing guy.
3. I'll stay up all night to finish it.

Point of Retreat was no exception. In fact, I loved it more than Slammed. I didn't even think that was possible.

***

This story is told in Will's POV instead of Lake's, which surprised me since she was the sole voice of Slammed. But I was equally happy to have his thoughts and feelings front and center, to be able to see the world through his eyes. 

It's been almost five months since Lake's mom, Julia, passed away and she became the sole guardian of her little brother, Kel. She needs Will now more than ever to help her through everything, from her grief to her new responsibilities. And he will do whatever he can to keep her going, to keep her smiling. 
"It's okay to be sad, Lake. Quit trying to carve so many pumpkins." 
(And if you don't know the "carving pumpkins" reference, you really need to read Slammed!). 
With raising two boys and going to school, Lake and Will have little time to actually be together. It was actually funny and heartwarming reading about them trying to be parents. They had to figure out how to draw the line between right and wrong, and choose their battles. They had to put their parental duties before sibling duties. Although, at times, it was so hard for them because Kel and Caulder are freaking hilarious. It was hard, but they knew that it would be. And the one thing that Will didn't have at the start of this new responsibility was another helping hand. He and Lake make all their decisions together, and they are just learning as they go. But neither of them would change a thing about their decisions to become guardians of their little brothers. 

And it's not like they don't have friends or Will's grandparents to help them from time to time. Remember the saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Well, this is sort of what it's like for Will and Lake. They have Will's grandparents, Gavin and Eddie, and in this book, their new neighbors, Sherry and young Kiersten, whom Kel is crushing on... ;) Every one of them brings something to the story, and also helps the two main characters grow. Even eleven year old Kiersten has some small wisdom of advice for Will, Lake, and Gavin. Whatever Lake and Will go through, they have people in their corners, fighting with them. And I just loved the interactions between them all, from walking through their doors without knocking to the dinners and food fights. The suck-and-sweet times. The references to Lake always carving pumpkins to the use of the word butterflying. These characters made me laugh, cry, smile, and even yell. 


***

I just noticed I haven't even talked about Will's and Lake's relationship yet, other than the fact they both help each other out and make parental decisions together. I need to talk about their relationship, because it's the major story-line of this novel. It's what the novel is really about, except for how family is not always the people you're related to. Family can be the people who stick by you through the good times and the bad, who help you out when you need it, who give you advice even when you don't want it. These people are family, Will's and Lake's family. :)

Anyway... After a rocky start to Will's and Lake's relationship in Slammed, they now have the freedom to be together. He's not a teacher at the school anymore, and Lake is in college. Except, no relationship is perfect, and there are always obstacles and challenges. But if two people really love each other and want to be together, they'll pull through it and it'll make them even stronger as a couple. 

I truly loved their relationship in this novel, how they grew as individuals and as a couple, and how they came out of the obstacles stronger and more in love than before. You have to expect in a CoHo book that the relationship won't be perfect, and that it won't be without a few tests. When someone from Will's past comes back into his life, it leaves Lake questioning everything about their relationship. And it leaves Will in a bad state, leaves him doing everything he can to prove to her that he loves her for her.
"A man can tell a woman he's in love with her until he's blue in the face. Words don't mean anything to her when her head is full of doubt. You have to show her."
Well said, Grandma Cooper. Well said. And Will takes this advice to heart, and he won't give up on Lake. Sometimes, I was angry at Lake for giving up. But when she explained her reasons, when she questioned their relationship, I was left with a woman's understanding of the situation. I understood why she was feeling this way. She wasn't questioning their relationship; she was questioning his love for her. She wondered if he'd still feel the same way had their life gone anything according to plan. Had they not become guardians to their little brothers. Had they not lost their parents and depended on each other to make it through this. She said, take all of that away and what would we have in common? What would there be to love about me? She wonders if he's just with her out of duty and out of compassion because she's in the same situation as he is, and thanks to that bitch ex of his, she's got seedlings of doubt in her mind. She wonders if he's just playing the white knight and trying to rescue her.

Very valid questions, yet she's stupid enough to believe that doubt. Her mom did tell her to question everything about her life, but Lake should know that what she and Will have is an epic love.
"I know we're young, Lake. We've got an entire lifetime ahead of us to do things like get married. But sometimes things in people's lives don't happen in chronological order, like they should. Especially in our lives. Our chronological order got mixed up a long time ago."
What they have together has nothing to do with duty and honor, but everything to do with love and laughter, happiness and sadness, the good and bad. It's a real relationship, and I ship this couple so much. <3

***


1. I cried.

Yup, I was crying within the first few chapters, and even a lot near the last quarter of the book (for reasons which I cannot tell you for it would spoil a pretty major plot point). Damn you, Colleen Hoover! That vase full of stars was so wonderful, and using Julia even after she's gone to help them out made me smile (through the tears) and laugh because Lake's mother was just so funny. And awesome. And I wish she were still there for them. But she is, in her own way, with a vase full of stars. Written on them are quotes, lyrics, and little inspirational words of wisdom for them to use when they're fighting and need a reminder of why they love each other. 

They went through a bunch of them in such a short time, they're going to need to savor them for later on in life.... :)

2. I fell in love with an amazing guy. 

Oh, Will Cooper... *sigh* He is one book boyfriend I just love reading about, and his love for Layken makes me swoon.  I was happy the tale was being recounted by Will, for he made me fall in love with his poetry, responsibility, and how he doesn't take for granted the people he loves. If anything, he's learned that death doesn't wait for anyone, doesn't care if you're not ready to say goodbye. It's made him put the emphasis on life. And it's made him grow up way too fast. 

But he wouldn't change a single decision of his. Everything led him up to this point, to finding Lake, to becoming a part of this wonderful cast of characters that are like family to each other. He loves his little brother, Caulder, and he knows that, given the chance to go back in time, he'd still become his guardian even though he knew next to nothing about being a parent. But Caulder needed him, and Will needed his little brother.

And his poetry! God, it makes me love him even more. I'm sure CoHo wrote all of this slammed poetry, which makes me just love her even more for it. It's just such a cool aspect. :) 

3. I stayed up all night to finish it.

And yeah, I stayed up all night to finish this book. I just had to! Well, technically, I finished it later on in the day, but I got about 75% of the way through during the early morning hours. At 6 a.m. I hit the surprise major plot point that had me clutching my heart and wondering what was going to happen and if everyone was going to be okay. I have to say, what a sucky place to end my reading! I could've kept reading, but I knew I needed sleep. But I did stay up all night; I, sadly, just didn't finish it then.

***

Point of Retreat was.... amazing! I don't even know how to describe to you in words how much I loved this book. It might have something to do with the fact that I enjoyed Will's POV more than Lake's, or it might be because this was just so crazy good with infinite wisdom that'll stick with you in real life. But what I got out of this was so much more than what I got out of Slammed. 

Sometimes I need a chapter break like Sky in Hopeless. And sometimes I just need to butterflying carve pumpkins. Whatever the case, CoHo books always give me something to think about, and something to apply to my life. I cry, I fall in love, I laugh, I swoon, and sometimes I just need to keep reading the book no matter what time it is. :)

I butterflying loved this book! <3