This book was…a lot. If you’re looking for a book that will slowly crush your heart with lyrical writing and an incredible friendship, you have come to the right place.
Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,” shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.
In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.
Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?
This book has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. It was a Christmas gift that I just now worked up the courage to read.
Why did I need courage? Because this is not my type of book. When I read contemporary books, I usually read fluffy romances. I turn to fantasy or historical fiction for my “impossible situation” plots—and even then, I rarely read books whose plots are like this. I know I don’t like framed-for-murder plots, and though this book is not one of those, it had a lot of the same qualities.
Anyway, going into DII, I knew that it would be a challenge.
Nevertheless, I’m incredibly glad I read it. This book was intense. I do not think there was a moment when I was not a few words away from tears. But more than making me cry, this book made me panic.
I have to separate this review from myself a bit, because I do not really like books that make me panic over things that could actually happen. I especially do not like books filling me with panic when I am already a college-app-fueled ball of stress. I had to read DII in small chunks, honestly afraid that if I read too much at once I’d lose it.
But I have to admire DII for how much it moved me. I was unable to control my emotions; I cared too much about the characters. DII felt real, and the fact that I could imagine being shoved into the same situation with my closest friends made my heart hurt.
Olivia was our main character. She’s already somewhat lost on the first page, not sure where her identity starts and where her dead mother’s identity ends. Sure that something in her will make her commit suicide when she turns eighteen the same way her mother did, Olivia has no plans for the future. The only things she knows for certain is that she will do anything for Jamie, her childhood friend, and that she loves her boyfriend Max, and her friend, Maggie.
Most of all, this is a book about friendship. Yes, Max and Olivia are a couple, but even their romance is more about friendship than romantic love. The four characters will do anything for each other—and they end up proving it when Jamie’s abusive father takes things too far and everything falls apart.
I really, really loved DII for its dedication to friendship. If you are searching for a book that takes the feeling of friendship and puts it so perfectly into words that it is palpable, you need to read this book.
Jamie and Olivia are tied closer together than any other characters I’ve read about, but there is never romantic tension between them. They’re “just” friends, but they still go to the ends of the earth for each other. While they may not make the best choices, I love that this book shows that a girl and a guy can love each other without it being romantic.
DII is not perfect. The pacing is off, mainly because the plot does not have a clear arc. The characters are running away, but we all know that their luck will run out eventually. While that created an emotionally charged plot, it meant that not a lot actually happens, so sometimes the pacing lagged. The book never lost its emotional hold over me, but occasionally, the pacing issues got in the way of my enjoying the book fully.
Additionally, I wanted a little more from Max and Maggie’s characters. I loved both of them, and it is remarkable how much characterization the author gave them in such a small amount of time, but I still wanted more. This book could have benefited from multiple POVs, I think.
Still, this book left me awestruck. It is rare to find a book that is so simple but so emotional throughout. Though I definitely chose to read this book at the wrong time in my life, I still appreciate the power of it. I would recommend this book to everyone who is looking for stories about friendship and who is willing to have their heart broken.