I loved Echols’ previous book, Going Too Far, and so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this next one – it’s not a series, they’re standalone books, but they’re similar. I can’t speak for any pre-Going Too Far books, but I haven’t been tempted to read them because they have some weird tacky covers. Anyway, I wasn’t disappointed – far from it, I think I loved this one even more.
On the surface, Zoey is a popular and attractive rich girl, captain of the swim team, and with everything figured out. But that’s just an image, one she mechanically works hard at. In truth, her life is messed up. Her parents divorced when her father, a self-made entrepreneur, got his much younger mistress pregnant; only a few months later Zoey’s mother, a lawyer who hails from a wealthy family, tries to commit suicide. Zoey finds her and gets her to the hospital, but isn’t allowed to see her – and when her father turns up, he angrily tells her not to tell anyone, that her mother is going to an institution, and he even threatens the local cop to keep quiet or he’ll lose his job.
He’s a real charmer, is Zoey’s dad. Unable to talk to anyone about it, and stuck living with her dad and his fiance in her old house, Zoey’s biggest fear is that the cop’s younger brother, Doug, who saw her at the hospital, will talk. Because as far as Zoey’s concerned, Doug has hated her for years – and he has reason to.
So why, after having an altercation with him at the football game, she later wakes up in her car to find Doug pulling her to safety, and is held so lovingly in his arms like he really cares for her? And the next morning, why is he the one to visit her, broken leg and all, and not her boyfriend Brandon? Why can’t she remember what happened leading up to the accident? Why does Doug think there’s something between them now?
Since her dad has threatened to lock her up too if she shows signs of amnesia – because it would spoil his trip to Mexico for his wedding – Zoey must figure out what happened on her own, without anyone knowing she can’t remember anything. The only person who seems to know what really happened is Doug, and the more time she spends with him, the more she realises how lonely and empty her life has become.
I will confess something right up: I may have fallen a bit in love with Doug. All right, quite a bit. Well, lots. How could I not? He was the perfect hero. A black sheep with a heart of gold. He’s tall, built (a powerful swimmer=hot swimmer physique), is part Japanese so has lovely dark hair but bright green eyes – very striking. He’s got a dark past, and it was Zoey who made sure he didn’t get hired as a lifeguard at her father’s water park in the summer by letting Ashley, the girl her father was having an affair with, know he’d been to juvie – she just never knew why.
There’s no black-and-white when it comes to either Zoey or Doug. Zoey makes mistakes. She deludes herself; she’s naive and so lonely she can’t see that she never was in a relationship with Brandon to begin with – but also so pointlessly loyal. She hurts herself by trying to be what she isn’t. It can be hard, watching her make mistakes, but as a teen narrator she’s also extremely likeable and sympathetic – it comes down to the way she talks and thinks, her quiet approach – and it helps that we have context for liking her: anyone with a father like hers needs sympathy, especially when she’s not the spoilt brat he seems to think she is.
Doug too isn’t perfect. He also comes from a crappy home, and has a father who is more like an enemy. He doesn’t always make the best decisions either, and even though we get only Zoey’s perspective, we can see him more clearly than she does, and we can see when he should have spoken up, spoken truth, and perhaps some of the crappiness could have been ameliorated.
This isn’t a plot-heavy book by any means, but it doesn’t need to be: the plot is a framework against which Zoey and Doug can both work to rescue themselves (they’re very similar, in many ways). It’s a beautiful tale of growing up, facing yourself, facing the outcomes of decisions made. It was delicately told, perfectly paced and balanced – it’s the kind of YA fiction you wish there were more of, intelligent, emotional stories with characters who might be a little beyond the realm of your own experience (seriously, I can’t think of any guy I knew as a teen who was much like Doug – but I think we girls all dreamed of one!). There was less teen angst, high school drama or petty rivalry, which is always cliched, boring and, to me, unrealistic.
It’s been about a week or so since I read this (in one sitting – it’s quick and also hard to put down, a winning combination!) but it left a warm fuzzy feeling for quite a while. It’ll be a comfort read, I’m sure. The content is mature and adult, respectful to warring teen hormones and dilemmas as well as the trials and tribulations of growing up and figuring yourself out. I guess Zoey’s story reminds us that no matter how screwed up everything seems to be, you still have friends and loved ones, or new love, and there’s always hope. You always have options.
“Certainly a book to be read again and placed at the top of the favorites shelf, Forget You is a breathtaking ride into the world of teenage love and a perfect summer romance.” A Good Addiction
“Although I don’t think Forget You is up there with her best books, Echols has more than proved that she’s here for the long haul, and I look forward to whatever she comes up with next.” Wondrous Reads
“FORGET YOU is a brave attempt to break a lot of YA conventions, but it fell short in many areas for me.” Steph Su Reads
“Forget You is going to be one of the greats of 2010.” Cleverly Inked