The 12th anniversary of a school shooting reunites two survivors in a second-chance romance that explores the lasting effects of trauma.
Olivia Arias returns to her Texas town to participate in a documentary commemorating the night her prom was invaded by two gunmen. On film, she recounts the moments before the tragedy and how she took shelter in a janitor’s closet. What she doesn’t reveal to the filmmaker is that she was in the janitor’s closet making out with Finn Dorsey, her school’s football star. No one needs to know that detail, especially since Finn arrived at the prom with someone else and left Liv alone in the closet to save his date once the shooting started. Though she’s willing to participate in the documentary, since proceeds go to help the victims’ families as well as "research that could help prevent things like this from happening," she isn’t expecting Finn to show up to add his own memories. After the shooting, Finn became a local hero—he was shot protecting his date, Rebecca—and his family moved away when the media attention became too much. Liv is in no hurry to have a reunion and relive her feelings for him. However, with both of them staying at the same small lodge during filming, seeing each other becomes unavoidable. Every page is packed with tension, and the frightening plausibility of the school shooting could easily have overwhelmed the promise of a happy ending. Loren (By the Hour, 2017, etc.) undertakes a careful balancing act with tenderness and tact as she introduces men and women who were forever changed by one horrific night. Liv and Finn's romance—wary, hesitant, and incredibly patient—is a soothing balm for the characters and reader alike. With the issue of gun violence at the forefront, this isn't an easy story, but every word, scene, and bit of dialogue is thoughtfully crafted.
Unforgettable; have some tissues handy.