(I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads giveaways).
(This review may contain spoilers).
(As an additional note – I have changed the rating. I originally had it on four stars, but as I wrote the review, I realised my feelings about the book are more on the three-star level).
I was a bit surprised at just how easily I was drawn into this book. When I originally read the blurb, I thought it would be aimed at a much younger audience, but having finished reading it, I feel like it could be enjoyed by a wider age range.
I liked Molly as a character in the book, but I experienced some moments of confusion with quite a few of the other characters for a while. The only ones I could really follow were Danny and Rory. I also found the use of the flashbacks quite confusing. They seemed to occur without any kind of warning/scene break.
While I appreciate that teachers probably have a hard job when it comes to the wellbeing of students, I did feel that many of the teachers didn’t actually seem to care. They did the bare minimum and that was it. I’m possibly quite sensitive to that, given my own past, but when concerns were raised, there was almost an air of nonchalance from a lot of the teachers. And that didn’t really endear many of them to me.
It was fairly obvious that a lot of research had gone into this book, without it feeling much like an info-dump. Many of Molly’s interactions with her students were engaging and, in many ways, quite sweet. It was nice to see the children caring about the environment… and the different animals in nature.
I did feel that one of the strongest points in the book was Deano. As more of his past was revealed, I felt some sympathy towards him. There was a lot that was bad about him, but I felt that, if someone had taken the time to work with him, he could have eventually changed. I was disappointed to see the way everyone washed their hands of him.
The romance aspects in the book weren’t bad, but I did feel that more time could have been spent on Molly’s and Oliver’s relationship. It would have been nice to see more of their feelings developing.
I really wasn’t that keen on the swear words being blotted out. That was really distracting and kept throwing me out of the story.
I would probably read more books by this author in the future. It would be interesting to see where he goes next with the characters.