Morgan didn't mean to do anything wrong that day. Actually, she meant to do something right. But her kind act inadvertently played a role in a deadly tragedy. In order to move on, Morgan must learn to forgive-first someone who did something that might be unforgivable, and then, herself. But Morgan can't move on. She can't even move beyond the front door of the apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. Morgan feels like she's underwater, unable to surface. Unable to see her friends. Unable to go to school. When it seems Morgan can't hold her breath any longer, a new boy moves in next door. Evan reminds her of the salty ocean air and the rush she used to get from swimming. He might be just what she needs to help her reconnect with the world outside.
Morgan had me at grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Oh yes, she eats my favorite comfort food every single day so I love her. And she makes her grilled cheese with extra cheese, so I love her even more. Yeah, guess it doesn't take much to win me over.
Okay, so on to the story. This was my first 2016 book of the year and it did not disappoint. I am so glad I had this one on preorder! Morgan has a case of agoraphobia, brought on by the fact that she experienced a traumatic event the year before. She basically has a really severe case of PTSD. You can see it every time she freaks out about a loud noise or the position of someone on the couch next to her. She never goes outside and in fact, she has a panic attack if she even steps on her welcome mat right outside her door. She goes to school online and she is very isolated, except for her mom and her adorable younger brother, Ben. First of all, the author's writing was beautiful. It's vivid and beautiful and I wanted to savor every word. The author did such a great job with the descriptions of what Morgan experienced physically every time she even thought about going outside, let alone tried to do it. I really felt like I was there with Morgan and I just wanted to hug her and tell her to breathe.
I freaking loved Morgan's therapist. She was very cool and she was understanding enough to make house calls. And she did all that for free. Pretty awesome. She was very patient with Morgan and yet was also not afraid to challenge Morgan on some incorrect assumptions that she had. She was the perfect therapist and I need to call her for myself. One issue I had though was that the therapist got a little too close to Morgan and revealed a bit of personal information that she shouldn't have. Sorry, but I have a Counseling degree and it is pretty much Counseling 101 that you don't do that. Other than that, she was perfect.
I also loved Morgan's family. I do think that her younger brother was about the cutest kid ever. I loved their relationship and I loved the hope that Ben had for Morgan. Her mom, bless her heart (sorry, couldn't resist letting my Southern out), was trying her very best for Morgan. She was impatient, but was willing to do what Morgan needed and let her recover at her own pace. Morgan's dad was MIA. From the stories that Morgan told, her dad used to be in the military and got progressively more distant the longer he spent overseas in Afghanistan. Her dad seemed to be suffering from some alcoholism and PTSD himself. Her dad was not really a part of the story that much, but I could appreciate the author inserting that part in the story. It allowed Morgan to relate to her dad a bit more and it showed how badly PTSD can affect everyone, not just the person suffering. People were even suffering because of Morgan's distance and her PTSD and she had to realize that.
There was some romance, but it wasn't a huge part of the story. I could appreciate that, but I had an issue with the fact that she didn't show that much interest in wanting to go outside until he showed up. It didn't seem like her recovery was 100% due to him exactly, but it was just attributed way too much to him. And the ending seemed a bit rushed. In real life, someone would not have recovered from that kind of agoraphobia as quickly as Morgan seemed to. Another issue was the mystery of what happened and what was driving her guilt. The reader could pretty much guess what the trauma was fairly early on, but there was still a lot of mystery regarding what Morgan herself experienced and why she felt so guilty. When the reason behind her guilt was revealed, I could completely understand her feelings but I wish it would have been revealed earlier. It would not have taken anything away from the book if Morgan had just mentioned it earlier.
Even with the few issues I had, I thought this was such an emotional and powerful and beautiful book. This is well worth the read.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one!