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In the Middle of Nowhere

In the Middle of Nowhere - Julie Ann Knudsen First, I would like to thank the author, Julie Ann Knudsen for giving me a copy of this book to review.

In the Middle of Nowhere is a story about learning to overcome lose, it’s a story about learning to open up and letting go.

I was really looking forward to reading this book. When I first found it I was excited, it seemed really interesting, and then I was lucky enough to get a copy of it from the author to review. I was so happy! I was looking forward to losing myself in Willow’s life story and how hers and Michael’s love started. But things didn’t go quite as planned.

Willow. Willow Flynn is the new girl in town, or maybe the new girl in the… island. Whatever. After losing her father in a tragic accident at a very young age, and in a way losing her mother at that moment too, Willow is somewhat disenchanted with life. She’s closed off to the best things life has to offer. She’s the new girl; she has no friends, a little brother that only cares about video games and a completely absent mother.

On one of her first days at her new school she notices a boy staring at her. She tries to ignore him, she looks away, embarrassed. But before the period is over that same boy sends her a cryptic message:
"Sweet dream, my dear
Sweet dreams, you dare?
Be done with dreams
And face your fear."

And then he’s gone. He doesn’t show for school for weeks, and against her better judgment, Willow starts wondering about Michael, the mysterious boy that disappeared. She asks a few people about him but no one seems to care about him, or the fact that he might be seriously ill. What’s left to do? Investigate online.

She finds him through one of her social networks, and having previously refused his friendship invitation she feels bad. But her curiosity (and maybe a little bit of worry) gets the better of her and she sends him a request back.

They chat online a few times, and then through the phone. But after one evening –when Michael shows up at her house uninvited (that doesn’t end particularly well) –he disappears again. And she seems to forget all about him.

Willow makes a lot of mistakes through the book, and while that might be okay, considering she’s a teenager and all, I still did not appreciate her giving in to her “friends” pressure. Doing drugs and drinking just because she didn’t want to seem naïve and inexperienced, just didn’t sit well with me. If anything, she passed as even more naïve by doing so.

Maybe you can say that I didn’t like Willow very much. I didn’t like that she kept giving in, I didn’t like that she forgot about Michael so easily, I didn’t like that she seemed pretty shallow sometimes. Of course she was strong, and maybe by doing reckless things she was just trying to be a teenager again, considering that her mother had her as a personal babysitter all the time. Yet, I couldn’t really connect with her character. I rarely felt anything for her.

Michael is another story.

Michael Cooper is the reason I kept reading this book. He’s mysterious, maybe a little creepy sometimes, but he’s sweet and pretty straight forward. He’s not afraid to speak his mind and let Willow know how he feels, and I loved that about him. Well, most of the time it’s the poet in him speaking and it can get a bit cheesy, just a warning to those that can’t stand cheesy I guess (he is worth it, though). But sadly we learn little to nothing about Michael in this book, nothing much other than that he’s sick and a little bit about his family. I wish the author had given us more insight into his life. I wish the author had given us more Michael overall.

And then we have the secondary characters. We have Erica and Taylor, Willow’s new friends, who I despised. Wait, they were okay but their constant worry about appearances got in my nerves. Then there’s Tessa. Tessa wasn’t much of a friend of Willow’s, but they did spend a lot of time together, mostly doing things they shouldn’t. It was clear that all Tessa wanted was to get her parents’ attention, she needed someone to rely on and she found that in Willow. I liked her, she didn’t hide who she was for appearance’s sake.

Last but not least is Willow’s mother. I didn’t like this woman one bit, in fact I was pretty close to hating her. She was neglecting her kids, she was drowning in sorrow instead of trying to let go of her husband and take care of her children. And she does, she moves on but she does so because she found someone else, and while that’s okay, she has a right to find love again, it’s not okay to pay more attention to your new boyfriend instead of your kids? Hell no!

What angered me the most was that she asked Willow to babysit all the time, but then she would say things like: “You can go out on Saturday, Willow, I can babysit James for you.” And I would stare at the page and think: No, you can’t fucking babysit James because you are his fucking mother! You know what I mean? Babysit! *SNORT* Woman, it’s your job to take care of your kid, no his older sister’s!

That’s probably a small thing that most people can overlook, but I couldn’t. Her mother was getting on my nerves so much I couldn’t stand to see her. Sure, she redeemed herself at the end, but it was a little too late for me.

Oh, there was also her mother’s boyfriend. He wasn’t much on the picture, but the few times he talked to Willow he seemed to be threatening her. The girl lost her father! She was not going to react well to a stranger trying to fill that role. I actually found myself hoping he was really cheating on her mother so she could find out and get rid of him. Sadly to me he wasn’t.

But all in all In the Middle of Nowhere was an easy read. When I started reading it went smoothly, before I knew it I was already half way through. Yet I couldn’t help but feel like there was something missing (hence the rating). I don’t want to be cliché, but it was missing a spark. Something that props you forward and makes you want to know more.

Michael was that spark for me, but he was so rarely in the book. In fact he was almost not there at all. I missed him, and I found myself reading only to see if he would show up.

The end was probably what I loved the most. I was actually tearing up. Michael was breaking my heart. It was one of the only moments that I felt a connection with the characters. It was heartbreaking and sweet at the same time.

In the Middle of Nowhere is probably a book for younger readers, readers that can overlook things I couldn’t (like Willow’s mother) and truly enjoy the story, for it really is sweet and sometimes endearing.

I hear that there might be a sequel to come, so I’m looking forward to reading it. It is definitely worth a try, since I’m excited to see how the relationship between Willow and Michael will turn out.

Until then!

Au revoir.