Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NERC Review #37: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

*eARC kindly provided by Harlequin Teen via NetGalley*

I'm in love with this series! Katie McGarry is one of my favorite YA contemporary authors; her books are so real and genuine, her characters just so freaking lovable. But I was a bit disappointed with the last book, Crash Into You. So I was nervous about Take Me On because neither Beth's nor Isaiah's stories have impacted me as much as the first book with Echo and Noah. I kept putting this one off, and I can't believe I did that! Because Take Me On just made me fall in love with Katie McGarry's stories all over again.

Rating: 4.5 Broken Stars!

It's been awhile since I read a book that had such two broken characters. West and Haley were both kids stuck in bad situations and felt alone, unwanted, and not good enough. It hurt. God, it hurt. I just wanted to wrap them both up in a warm hug and tell them that it'll all be okay. But they had to figure out for themselves that they're worthy, that they're good enough. It just took both of them a long time to accept that.

I honestly can't decide who was more broken, because it was just so equal. But I could relate more to Haley, probably because she's a girl and I've felt some of her insecurities and angst before. Haley has been through a lot in her teen life that I really felt for her and all that she had to put up with. From a controlling uncle to a family that turned their backs on her after she walked out of the gym, Haley is pressured to return to kickboxing and the girl she was before she left. But she's not that same girl. She's damaged, been torn apart by the things that she's been through. Add in the family drama, and Haley's life and happiness and hope for a future is spiraling into a black hole of despair. Until West almost runs over her with his car and convinces her that she's worth fighting for.

In Crash Into You, I was not the biggest fan of West. On the outside, he's a spoiled little rich kid who picks fights because he's starved for attention. But there is so much more going on beneath the surface, but he thinks no one cares enough to look through all of the bullshit. And when his dad kicks him out, West is forced out of a life of comfort, safety, and security. And he's forced to face his actions and the consequences. He blames himself for Rachel's accident, which leads to all-consuming guilt, rage, and a need for destruction. But when he meets Haley, he sees a chance at redemption and he takes it. He just didn't expect to fall for the girl who can kick his ass without breaking a sweat, or the girl who made him feel like he finally belonged.
"Being with you is the only time I'm okay living in my own skin." -West
I loved both of their characters! I loved Haley's strength and the hints of vulnerability beneath the tough exterior. I loved that she did her best to keep everything together, and I respected her so much because I understand the need to stay closed off and appear formidable. But West broke down her walls, and through that, I saw inside to the person he doesn't believe he can be. All he wanted was redemption and a second chance. He just didn't think he was worthy of them. Haley helped him see that he wasn't giving himself enough credit.
"I'm in this, Haley, whether you want me or not."
And together, they were better. I loved their chemistry and their relationship. It was amazing how much support and strength and love they gave each other.

And Katie McGarry never forgets about the secondary characters! There were so many of them in this; some that had huge parts, and others that were background mentions. Some were there for support and encouragement, others for entertainment or obstacles. But they all played a role in West's and Haley's story. I might have even loved the relationship between Jax and Haley more than hers and West's (shhh, don't say anything). I'm a huge fan of books that have close family ties and ones that don't shy away from all the things that come with blood and heart and lifelong bonds. They're messy and complicated, but always worth the fights.

But there is always a lot going on in her stories, and I remember thinking I'd have liked Crash Into You more if it'd had a simpler story-line. If it wasn't so focused on the drama and teenage angst. I didn't mind it in this one. (Does that make me a hypocrite?). I liked it more in here because I felt like it was all needed to help Haley and West to get to that beautiful ending. The ending that both of them deserved so much. 

Take Me On was another wonderful contemporary in a series that I just want more and more of with characters who have stolen my heart. I don't want to let them go yet. So if she writes more (besides that new one about Noah and Echo out in December), then I'll gladly read them.