Just one little lie is all it took…
Description: After serving half of a three-year prison sentence, James is out and ready to try and get his life back on track, which means forgetting about the girl who sent him to prison in the first place – despite the fact he’s still in love with her!
Katie knows that she can’t see James, but that doesn’t make it any easier. If she does it could send him straight back to prison, but, she still loves him and is desperate to make things right and tell him how sorry she is for ruining his life. After accidently bumping into each other, James and Katie can’t stay away from one another and so begin to see each other in secret. After a slight wobble on James’s part, when he decides he can’t take the risk of going back to prison, Katie decides enough is enough and it really is time to move on and put James behind her. Heartbroken, James decides to try and get his life in order. But due to his conviction it’s not as straightforward as he would like, leaving him miserable and despairing at what his life has become. When a job opportunity comes up hundreds of miles away he doesn’t hesitate to head south and put his troubles behind him. Can James and Katie forget each other and move on with their lives without one another?
“That Girl” by Rachel Strong depicts an unconventional romance between 22-year-old James and 14-year-old Katie. Katie initially lies about her age pretending to be nearly 16 in order to go out with James, the legality of which is frequently called into question when the story begins with James’ release from jail. Despite spending the past 18 months in jail and Katie’s role in putting James behind bars, the two embark on a tug-of-war relationship desperate to be together, but consistently torn apart.
The novel tackles several sensitive topics from consensual sex and underage activity to single parenthood and familial obligations. Rachel Strong reinvents the definition of a love story with the book “That Girl,” taking societal norms and turning them on its head. Despite the age difference and legality of their relationship, it is quickly established that James and Katie not only love each other, but they have an unbreakable connection that is reinforced because of the birth of their daughter.
Throughout the book, Katie and James walk the line between the law and their love, struggling to balance what IS right with what FEELS right. The story includes many of the typical obstacles and sentiments family and friends would have in a situation like this, but this young adult novel is far from cheesy and predictable and tackles issues very rarely discussed.
James and Katie are fairly well-developed characters, but at times they were annoying and difficult to connect with in their constant whining and indecision. However, just as the narrative begins to settle into an expected story line, Strong throws in a curve ball changing the direction of the characters only to change it back moments later. The plot twists are unending, but realistic and really maintains the pace of the characters and their story.
James and Katie’s harrowing journey was much more than a conventional love story or a young adult novel. Without giving away any spoilers, “That Girl” was the complete opposite of what is expected and definitely an incredible and poignant read.
*I received this book as part of the HCL Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.