Oliver was taken by his father when he was in grade two, leaving his best friends Emmy, Caro, and Drew behind, wondering where he is and if he is okay. Surprisingly, ten years later, Oliver returns to live with his mother, free from his father. Oliver’s kidnapping doesn’t only affect Oliver’s family, but the entire neighborhood. Emmy, Oliver’s neighbor, grows up with extremely over-protective parents which poses it’s own challenges. Emmy loves to surf, although this is kept a secret from her parents because they would never approve of this seemingly dangerous hobby. Emmy faces many other challenges and frustrations being raised by over-protective parents as well, such as the issue regarding her wanting to move away for college, and her parents wanting her to live at home for another few years.
I found it very interesting learning about Oliver’s story when he was away with his father for ten years. Surprisingly, I didn’t dislike Oliver’s father as much as I assumed I would in the beginning of the story. The reader gets a deeper sense of the motive behind the kidnapping, though it was a wrong decision, the reader gets the sense that Oliver’s father really truly and genuinely cares for and loves his son. Though it was an unconventional bond between Oliver and his father, I did kind of like it in a way. It was sweet how Oliver loved his father despite the entire community believing his father to be a monster. Oliver thought about the good times they had, like when his father taught him how to ride a bike.
My favourite aspect of this novel was how Oliver faced so many challenges being reintegrated with his old friends and community and how he eventually was able to overcome them. Oliver felt as if everyone had moved on without him, especially his mom as she had remarried and had children. He felt as if he didn’t really belong there because he was raised and had friends in his old city, where his dad and him lived. He was also conflicted between his mom and his dad because his mom continually expressed how Oliver’s father should be imprisoned because he was a criminal, but Oliver never fully wanted to see his father that way. The relationships presented in this novel are beautiful, how everyone is so close and supportive of one another in such a hard and difficult time (both when Oliver went missing, and when he came back).
Oliver and Emmy’s romance was so sweet as well! 🙂 It just made me smile. From the beginning Oliver felt more comfortable being open and expressive of his feelings with Emmy regarding his father and his kidnapping than even his mother. Emmy also shared secrets with Oliver that she didn’t share with anyone else, including her best friends Caro and Drew. Although, it’s important to note that the title makes it seem as if the story is dominated by their romance, and that their relationship as a couple is the main theme, though it’s not. The story is much more in-depth than that, it encompasses the importance of growing up and being independent by making your own life decisions, and the need for family and friends during challenging times.
Overall it was such a sweet novel, and when it ended I really just wanted to read more! 🙂 I give this novel 5/5 for being very original, sweet, and romantic! 🙂 I really loved it and it has definitely been one of my favorite books that I have read so far this summer!
Some of my Favorite Quotes from the Novel:
“The more you start to love someone, the more you ache when they’re gone, and maybe it’s that middle ground that hurts the most, when you can see them and still not feel like you’re near enough.”
“The problem is that now I miss my dad just like I used to miss my mom.”
“We stayed and looked and waited for him to come back, as if our love was a beacon that he could use to light his way home, to crawl up the sides of the earth and back through his front door,”
“After a while, though, after years passed and pictures changed and false tips fell through, it started to feel like the beacon wasn’t for him anymore. It was for those of us left behind, something to cling to when you realized that scary things could happen, that villains didn’t only exist in books, that Oliver might never come home, until one day he did.”