I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by. Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.
For the first part of this book, I wasn't totally sure I liked it. Crystal and Amber are raising a baby. One of them got pregnant (the author doesn't let us know who the mother is at first) and they make a promise to each other that they will raise the baby together. They have a plan. They both work their butts off to pay for Natalie ("their" baby) and they are STILL in high school. Amber and Crystal are determined to be the first ones in their family to graduate high school. After graduation, they plan on getting their own apartment and going to work full time. It's crazy how determined they both are and how much they have to overcome. It's also really refreshing to see a book that doesn't glorify teen pregnancy and shows what life is like living in poverty. Crystal and Amber save every single cent they can in a joint savings account. Amber, Crystal and Natalie all share a bedroom and they barely have enough money to eat. They shop at Goodwill, they eat macaroni a lot, they panic about something as simple as a broken headlight because they can't afford anything extra. The author did a great job of showing the difficulties of raising a baby while going to school and trying to pay your way. Their mom and stepdad are around and they do help with Natalie with babysitting sometimes, but 99% of the financial and physical responsibility went to Amber and Crystal. The parents can't even afford to really pay their rent, so Amber and Crystal are pretty much on their own.
So why did I have an issue with this book for the first half of it? It's hard to say. For a large part of the book, I just didn't like Amber very much. It seemed as if she was super flighty and was not super responsible and it seemed like she was asking Crystal to give too much up. Crystal would stay up all night doing Amber's homework and Crystal would have to go and pick Amber up at a party when she drank too much. It was annoying. Then Crystal gets into college in Kansas and all of their carefully thought out plans just went away. I thought both of them were acting a little selfish. It was selfish of Amber expect Crystal to give up college, but it was also selfish of Crystal to expect Amber to just put her life on hold for four years and move to Kansas with her. The sisters were just so enmeshed and I was waiting for them to realize that they could BOTH follow their dreams and neither had to give up anything. Honestly, it took me half the book to realize that the author had never even identified the mother. They even had Natalie call them by their names instead of "mom" or "aunt." I will admit that I made assumptions and I judged the situation incorrectly. I thought I knew who the mom was, but I was wrong. I think I started enjoying the book more once I had all the information. Suddenly, everything clicked and I could understand both sisters a little more.
There was a lot of character development in this book from both of the girls. I absolutely loved their relationship and how much they depended on each other. Yes, I thought it was unhealthy at times, but I'm not a twin so I can't relate to that. Another thing I loved about this book was NO ROMANCE! Seriously, it was AWESOME. There was this one guy, David, who worked with Crystal at the car shop and I thought he was going to be a romantic interest. He was wealthy and clean cut and preppy and Crystal kind of hated him at first so I thought that's where I thought it was headed. I am so glad it didn't go that way. They became genuine friends and bonded over cars and he helped her with her college stuff and he encouraged her. It was great to see a straight man and a straight woman be friends with no romance and it was just nice to read a book that focused on family instead.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one. This ended up being a great read with very realistic characters and great messages. I would highly recommend this one.