Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Katie McGarry has been a favourite of mine ever since I read her debut Pushing The Limits and fell in love with her flawed leads and their unlikely attraction. She is firmly entrenched in my must read list and I’m always excited about her upcoming releases. I have stated that my copy of Say You’ll Remember Me is courtesy of the publisher, and it is, but I have also pre-ordered a digital copy so that I can receive the exclusive digital content available only with the pre-order. This is something I have done for the last 3 or so novels.
Say You’ll Remember Me is a brand new stand alone and if I’m not mistaken there is no connection with any of her earlier novels. The Pushing The Limits and Thunder Road books are two completely different series but there is a connection, I don’t think that’s the case here.
My favourite thing about McGarry stories is her characters. They are vibrant, they are relatable and they are realistic; they come alive through her storytelling and they become your friends. They make you laugh, they make you cry but most of all they make you FEEL. Often McGarry’s romances are a case of opposites attracting only to discover they aren’t so different after all and Say You’ll Remember Me is no exception but it is much more pronounced.
Say You’ll Remember Me sees Hendrix and Ellison cross paths at a county fair, completely unaware of any connection between them. They have a harmless game on the sideshows before parting ways but then Hendrix notices her being bothered by a couple of college kids and steps in to help her out. The next time they cross paths is at a press conference and they discover that the attraction they feel towards one another is not their only connection.
The story is written in the first person in alternating chapters by both Hendrix and Ellison, better known as Drix and Elle. Their voices are strong and McGarry paints them vividly, it isn’t only their voices that are strong though; like all McGarry characters their personalities are strong. McGarry often writes of troubled teens and people from both sides of the tracks but this time the distance is a lot greater. Elle’s father is Governor Monroe, the man responsible for the Second Chance Program which aims to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Hendrix is the first teen selected as a poster boy for the program, a convicted felon who served time for armed robbery.
On the surface these characters couldn’t be more different, their lives are completely opposite and you would be hard pressed to discover common ground. We all know that people are much more than what you see on the surface and McGarry is adept at uncovering these layers as she helps us get to know the characters.
Drix has quite the bad boy reputation and having come through the Second Chance Program he can look back and see himself in a completely different light. He doesn’t like who he was and he knows he’s changed but he’s still trying to work out who he is now. He can see where his bad choices were and why he made them and now he is scared of going back. He is a good guy who made bad choices and this is his chance for a fresh start, a clean slate if he can keep it that way.
Elle is the ultimate good girl living her life in the media eye and striving for perfection to make her parents proud. She is part of the team on the campaign trail helping ensure her father, her hero, is re-elected. Elle idolises her dad, she is sure of his innate goodness and desire to give a voice to the voiceless. Elle is picture perfect, there’s no doubting that, but we are soon allowed to see beyond the façade to the real Elle and discover that Elle is a lot more than the picture that is portrayed.
Governor Monroe and his team have selected Hendrix to be the face of the Second Chance Program but will that second chance stretch to blessing a friendship between the two teens….
The attraction between Drix and Elle is instantaneous, their chemistry is electric, but this didn’t strike me as a case of Insta-Lust because that first encounter was intriguing for both of them and left them wanting to get to know each other, wanting to learn about each other and not just act on their attraction.
Drix and Elle have more in common than you would think and they feel comfortable together because for each of them they find a person that they don’t owe anything to or have anything to prove. They have the luxury of just being themselves, and that’s something neither of them find very often.
McGarry deftly explores the lives of her characters, the challenges faced by those from Drix’s neighbourhood and the difficulties faced by those trying to break the cycle, trying to better themselves and forge a different future. Drix was an innocent man who felt that his best chance was to plead guilty and take a deal rather than trying to fight the charges and clear his name because he didn’t have the money for a good lawyer, any lawyer really and the public defenders are completely overworked.
These are real issues that many teens are faced with and McGarry explores them with insight and sensitivity. The issues facing Elle may seem small compared to what Drix and his neighbourhood face but they are no less serious to her.
McGarry will take you on a rollercoaster worthy of the fair as you try to work out just what this pair is going to have to face. A book that will definitely appeal to fans of her earlier novels as well as a range of Young Adult readers. It’s sweet, it’s intense and it’s relatable. I promised myself one last chapter before bed last night and ended up staying up for the last 50 or so pages. I would be interested to see what comes next for them.