Thursday, July 17, 2014

NERC Review #32: Before You by Amber Hart

*eARC kindly provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley*

What first put this book on my radar was K.A. Tucker telling everyone that they'll want to read it (or something of that variety). I love YA contemporaries, so when I read the synopsis I knew I had to have it. And I was so excited when K-Teen approved my NG request! Also, I adore that cover! 

Rating: 4 Stars!
Before You is told in dual, first person POVs. And can I just say how much I love both characters having a perspective? It makes things more real and the characters feel three-dimensional. I really liked Faith's and Diego's POVs, and I thought it was easy to tell them apart. Their voices were distinctive and made it easy to get lost in their story, which I loved!

Faith Watters is living a lie. She wears a mask around everyone because she thinks people won't like the real her. The one who loves life, enjoys dancing at clubs, and dresses how she wants. But she's constantly surrounded by people who expect nothing less than perfection, who expect her to behave a certain way. And it suffocates Faith, makes her feel like she's drowning in a life she doesn't want but can't escape from. She does what she's told and no one suspects a thing. She's good at lying. She's good at pretending. It's better for her this way, to keep people out and not show any weaknesses. If people knew, they'd just exploit them and judge her. But Faith is tired of living this way, tired of constantly being aware of her actions and choices. She only wants to be herself, and with the help of Diego and her best friend, she just might find the confidence she needs to let out the real Faith.

Diego Alvarez is a tatted up bad boy with an edge to him. It's what attracts Faith at first. But underneath his tough exterior is just a guy who wants to survive in a world that he's having a hard time navigating. It's hard for him to let go of his past and move on; it's hard for him to believe in happiness. But he can't stop thinking about Faith, about her goodness and carefree ways. Yet, he knows that underneath is a fierce girl who puts him through his paces. His walls don't stand a chance against her, and it takes him less time than Faith to admit that he wants her. But he also doesn't want to hurt her or put her in the way of a past that's fighting to catch up with him. I think Diego was more complex than Faith, and therefore, more interesting as a character. His need to do the right thing, his love for his family, and his desire to protect Faith lead him to making some tough choices. And I'm glad that they paid off in the end.

I loved their relationship; it was sweet and a little bit steamy! The chemistry between them was there from the start, and the tension was played up nicely. I liked how they both brought out the best in each other, even if it took them a long time (mostly on Faith's part) to admit that they wanted each other. I thought it was believable that they would have hardships because of the fact that they're of a different race, and I felt that the hangups they had were real. Both of them had a hard time letting go of their pasts and showing people their true selves. But with each other, they didn't have to pretend. 

The secondary characters were great as well! I loved Melissa, Faith's best friend. She is definitely someone I'd like to know more about because I think there's more to her than we know. I also enjoyed the interactions between Diego and his family, his father and Javier especially. I just wish there'd been more of them. :)

The plot was very fast-paced, and it didn't take me long to finish the book! I liked where the story headed, because I don't know how the author could have ended their story happily without some part of Diego's past showing up. It was a little unbelievable and unrealistic, but I've since learned that it'll be more explained in the sequel. And like I said, I don't know how she could have ended it any differently so Faith and Diego would be able to live happily with each other without looking over their shoulders.

Before You was a sweet, romantic novel about two characters who were going through life like they had no say in who they were as a person. But they ended up finding each other and discovering a love that tests the bounds of family and society. And I can't wait to read Melissa's and Javier's story.