Ryan Mattson appears to have it all as a popular high school football player who lives in the nicest section of town with a father and sister who adore him. Yet, beneath the surface he bears the scars of losing his mother at an early age. When Ryan is paired with Adam for a class project, his initial less-than-thrilled reaction changes when he realizes that the two of them may have more in common than he thought. As the two strike up the unlikely friendship, Adam begins to become just another one of the family. As their bond deepens as they graduate high school and head off to different colleges, Ryan struggles with his feelings for Adam. When tragedy strikes the Mattson family, their friendship is tested. As Ryan falls into despair, it is only Adam who can drag him out of it.
This was not my first Chase Potter story. I’ve read several of his other works and knew that it was going to be a decent read. What I wasn’t expecting was to find that this story way exceeded my expectations and that it would instantly become my favorite book ever!
This book is the ultimate friends to lovers story. For nearly ¾ of the book, readers are treated to the story of Ryan and Adam. We are with them from their first meet where they aren’t exactly thrilled with being forced to work as partners together, to their decision that they have so much in common that they should be friends, to their inseparability as they navigate their way through high school, to their separation as they head off to college, to their need for one another when life throws a curveball that shatters one’s soul, to their realization that their friendship is anything but ordinary.
Readers should be warned – this book made an Ice Princess, such as me, break down and UGLY cry. We are talking all out sobbing uncontrollably. I literally had to put the book down and walk away at several points because I was so overcome with emotions. This has NEVER happened to me when reading a book.
This story is told in Ryan’s point of view. While Ryan outwardly appears to be a normal high school teenager, he tends to be somewhat introverted. He has “friends,” but no one he would consider a close friend. He tells himself it is because he rather spend time with his dad and sister, Emma, but it isn’t until he meets Adam that he realizes that a lot of his avoidance of close relationships is because no one else really understands the loss of a parent.
Adam’s story will break your heart. The son of drug addicts, he laments that he was taken away too late for him to have a real family. Now a child in the foster care system, he struggles with forming attachments with anyone. Readers get the pleasure of watching Adam blossom right before your eyes as Ryan, Ryan’s dad, and Ryan’s sister help him to build trust.
Added to the mix is Emma – Ryan’s younger sister. Seven years younger than Ryan, Emma is a protégé when it comes to the arts. Where most teenagers would dread having their little sister tag along, Ryan’s bond with his sister is heartwarming. Smart and sassy, she has the eyes of someone so much older. Having little to no memories of her mother, she relies on Ryan and her dad to fill in the void. When Adam comes along, Emma is thrilled to welcome another “brother” in to her life. While she may be younger than Ryan and Adam, she sees what they have either been missing or denying themselves of long before either one of them does.
What I loved most about this story is that all along, Ryan knows that there is something special about his relationship with Adam, he just doesn’t know what it is. Meanwhile, Adam knows that he is in love with Ryan, but he is too afraid to rock the boat and risk losing Ryan forever. Instead, Adam decides to wait, knowing at some point Ryan will wake up and realize that what they have is special enough to want to hold on to forever and Adam will be there…like he always is.
If you take one of my recommendations this year, this is the one to take. This is a beautiful coming-of-age story that focuses on family, friendship, love, and loss. In my opinion, this is a contender for the best book of the year! I highly recommend!