Title: Every Last Promise
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Format: Paperback, 288 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062121286 (HarperTeen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062121288 (HarperTeen)
Reviewed by: Zed
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.
Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.
Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.
Quick & Dirty: This story dragged for longer than necessary and was too similar to Pretty Little Liars for my liking.
Opening Sentences: This is a story about heroes. I am not one of them.
This is the second story of late that has reminded me of the television series Pretty Little Liars. At first, the resemblance was irritating: four popular and beautiful best friends living in a small town with their perfect simple lives, and then how suddenly all that changes. Their secrets tear them apart. However, towards the end the story became more unique and I was glad that I could no longer predict what would happen next.
Every Last Promise is told from Kayla’s perspective and the chapters alternate between the seasons Summer and Fall; which is essentially the ‘before’ and ‘after’ the ‘accident’ that changed everything.
My least favourite character has to be Selena. God she was infuriating. An immensely vain and typical mean girl; I couldn’t comprehend why the girls were friends with her especially when she deserted her best friend after, what I think is the most horrific thing that could happen to a girl.
“Well, I don’t believe in souls at all,” Selena said.
T.J. crossed the lunchroom and sat next to me, catching the end of Selena’s statement. “Why not?” he said.
“Because it’s inconvenient. My Catholic soul is destined to burn in hell if I do anything wrong. It’s not worth the anxiety to believe when it’s so much more freeing not to. If I went to confession, the priest would die of shock.”
I guess I should be disgusted by Kayla for not speaking up sooner and at first I was but as the story unraveled I realised that the situation was a lot more complicated than it first seemed. Her hesitancy was, in a weird and twisted way, understandable. Kayla craved her old, simple life, she was scared of what would happen if she revealed the truth and was further confused because Bean hadn’t spoken up herself. I felt sorry for her — how do you stand up to bullies that are idolized by the rest of the town?
“I don’t care what they say or think. If they forgive you or not. Do you ever think you don’t need it? Forgiveness. From anyone. That an accident is just that? Something awful that happened. Not anyone’s fault.” It’s a whisper, gentle and inexplicably caring, and I want to enfold myself in the comfort of it.
“It’s my fault if people say it is.”
The main flaw with this book was that although it’s clear that something big had caused a rift between the girls and Bean, we see very little of Bean. I thought that was a shame and given the subject matter it would have been useful to understand how she felt in the aftermath. As a result, out of all the girls, I found it hardest to connect with Bean simply because she was always brushed aside and I knew so little about her.
Another annoying thing was how everyone hates Kayla when she returns and then as soon as Jay forgives her, they all suddenly become her besties. It’s like the ‘being mean to Kayla’ button is switched off automatically. I thought it was beyond unrealistic.
It took forever for Kayla to reveal her secret but I was so annoyed that I didn’t get to find out what actually happened afterwards. How did everyone react? Was there a trial? Did Bean get any justice? Did Selena feel any remorse for keeping quiet? The ending was a shame, the story line dragged and was too similar to the TV show for my liking but give it a try and let me know what you think!
Kayla Martin. Running away again.
I don’t care. I hurry away. People are watching. My movements are staggered, jagged-edge like a broken window. My shoes slam against the concrete of the sidewalk, and I wish my skin was thicker, dense enough to not care about what I know everyone’s thinking. What they’re all saying.
About the girl who killed a boy then skipped town.
A sob escapes and my shoulders quake and I can’t help it. I wish I could. I don’t want sympathy.
I want home.
I want this place so much.
But they don’t want me back.
FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Every Last Promise. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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