I’d previously read “The Year We Fell Down” and loved it. So I decided to give the next book The Year We Hid Away a chance. It features Bridger who was one of the better side characters in the first book. My hopes were high.
Scarlet has a secret. She’s the daughter of a legendary coach who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. (Think Penn State and you wouldn’t be far off.) She needs to get away. Away from her family. Away from the cameras. Just away. So she changes her name, her school, and everything about herself so she can achieve the anonymity she so wants.
Bridger has a secret. His mother’s died leaving him as the sole caretaker of his much younger little sister. Worse, he can’t live at home and take care of her, not in the crack house his mother had her in. So he sneaks her into the dorms. Keeping her secret. Keeping her safe.
Of course that means that the two students with the most to hide find each other.
So There’s technically three plots in this. One is the romance. Two is what’s going on with Bridger. Three is Scarlet’s family drama. They are all interwoven and tied together that I never feel cheated or unsatisfied. And all of them are resolved, if not in a good way, in an emotionally satisfying way. I love the characters so much. Scarlet is a great MFC while Bridger, who we’d met in an earlier book, is still fun but with more pathos than before. And it makes sense why he was so 'I must live for today' in the previous book, because in his case it was very much he was living on so-called borrowed time. He’s not the same happy-go-lucky guy he was in the first book, but the changes in characterization made sense.
Hartley and Corey are still around, which is nice to see, and you get to meet some other characters as well.
There’s a good happy ending. And I didn’t see one twist coming.
But that being said, there’s a huge problem with the book. Namely a character who is super duper important to the plot magically appears in the third act.
Scarlet’s uncle or at least the concept of him needed to be introduced earlier… He was a deus ex machina which implies that the author wrote herself into a corner and didn’t know how to get out. It’s shoddy writing. Even a mention in the first chapter would have been enough.
But because the character comes out of nowhere, and I do mean nowhere, it lessened my enjoyment of what was overall a great story.
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