Kaylee struggles with the demons of her past, her absentee father, helping her alcoholic mom, finding a summer job, keeping food on the table for her and her mom, keeping her old life apart from her new one, and keeping a certain boy who still holds her heart at a safe distance. Just when she thought her life couldn't get more complicated as it is, her two worlds collide and threatens everything she tried to hide and the life she built for herself. As the characters struggle with inner turmoil full of guilt, blame, and heartache they still carry from the past, as a reader you can really feel how deeply it hit them. Even after all these years, the burdens of the past still has a control over Kaylee. Kaylee coped by staying as far away from home as possible while hiding behind a facade polar opposite of her own. Adopting the wild party lifestyle her sister once lived, she comes to realize that she's been trying to keep a part of her sister alive, and the alcoholic tendencies they share must run in the family. But the one guy who shouldn't be able to see past the facade, can see right down to her heart and soul.
The former bad boy and crush, Dylan McKay -- the one she thought she couldn't have. Dylan becomes an obstacle of his own in Kaylee's life while she tries to figure out his motives, and keep him at arms length when he tries to persue her. As Kaylee tries to figure out if he's trying to reconnect with her sister vicariously through her now that her personality is identical to her late sisters, he reveals that the feelings between them are mutual. Staying away from him doesn't come easy for her because he is still wrapped around her heart after all these years. Should she dare to let him in knowing the risk of potential heartbreak, and guilt for taking the guy who belonged to her sister? I keep encouraging her to go for what her heart desires.
Author Kate Laurens does a great job of conveying feelings with her writing and use of imagery to help readers feel what the characters feel, and to understand them as well. As the characters comes to terms with their roles in the death of her sister, they learn to let go of guilt and blame, and find peace and love. With a surprising help from usually incoherent mom, and meddling best friend, Jax. Although the HEA (happily ever after) is a bit short and fast-paced, the story in it's entirety is anything but. The pace and flow was easily to follow each step the characters take throughout the story. The epilogue, short as it is, hints at where Kaylee and Dylan go in their life together. Spoiler alert for any Kaylee/Joel shippers out there. This story teaches us that the past can rear it's ugly head, but you can overcome it.