Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Not Erin Watt’s best work, but still an addictive read!
In their second YA novel, Erin Watt narrates the story of Lizzie Beth, a seventeen year old girl who lost her sister to a car accident three years ago. Beth wants to party, have fun and make stupid decisions during her last school year, but her parents are constantly trying to smother her with their unreasonable rules and extreme reactions. In a desperate act of rebellion, Beth ends up in a party full of strangers and meets the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen. There’s just one small problem, one she didn’t realize back then; he’s the reckless driver who took her sister from her. Her family, her friends, the entire town, wants to burn him at the stake. Beth? She can’t kill the butterflies in her stomach, nor deny the strong connection they share. Torn between the loyalty to her dead sister and her traitorous heart, between what everyone expects from her and what she truly wants, Beth will have to face her grief, deal with her loss and find her path in life, a path made of her own desires and dreams.
Erin Watt has proven thus far that they can write intense and highly addictive reads, and One Small Thing is not an exception. It’s a novel heavily focused on family issues, romantic relationships, the aftermath of a terrible loss, friendship, hatred and forgiveness. Forgiveness towards the one who hurt you, and atonement for your own fatal mistakes.
“Everywhere I look, I see a closed door. A dark passage. Locked windows. If there’s a way out, I can’t visualize it.”
It was also a novel laced with angst; there was a rush of multiple emotions wreaking havoc to my very core. And amongst the suffocation, the bitterness, the anger, and the despair, the most dominant was the anger. So much anger. While the authors managed to capture a side of humanity that is unfortunately real – the bloodlust that makes good people do bad things and call them justice - sometimes I felt like they overdid it. There was simply too much drama. There was not a single decent character in the entire book, with the exception of Chase, the love interest. I suppose what the authors wanted to show was that one action, no matter how devastating it is, cannot dictate a person’s life, that there is one point where punishment is enough, that not everything is painted in black and white and I get it, I admire it even. But that absence of even one person who was sympathetic to Chase or supportive to Beth, who was not judgmental and thirsty for retribution felt way too manipulative, a means to bring them together and justify why Beth ended up falling for the guy responsible for her sister’s death.
And that brings us to Beth’s character. She was extremely juvenile about everything: the way she handled her grief, her reckless decisions, even the way she stalked Chase was nerve-wracking. As the story progressed I wished she would cut everyone off her life, I cannot fathom how she forgave her friends for the things they said and did (or didn’t do). She was throwing tantrums instead of growing a backbone, she was a hypocrite when it came to the way she treated Chase, and even though towards the end she did the right thing, it was not enough to make me forget all those times I wanted to yell at her (to be honest, though, I wanted to yell at everyone).
All those points I raised above do not mean that One Small Thing was a bad book. On the contrary, I finished it in two days, I wanted to spend more time with this story, witness more sweet moments between Beth and Chase, revel in their healing process, first and foremost as individuals and then as a couple. Chase was the one small thing that lightened my reading experience, my heart ached for him, I felt his remorse every time he spoke or allowed bullies to mistreat him because he thought he deserved it.
“What’s your small thing for today?” I ask as I cross the neighbor’s lawn to my own.
Even though I prefer the lighthearted and adorable When It's Real, I swallowed Erin Watt’s second YA novel as well; One Small Thing is a bittersweet, intense and meaningful story that deserves 3.5 big stars for all the small things.
*ARC generously provided by the authors via Nina Bocci in exchange for an honest review*