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Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I picked up Jennifer Echols' Going Too Far on the recommendation of the Ana-half of The Book Smugglers. Ana is good peeps and pretty much never steers me wrong. She said she stayed up into the wee hours of the night reading this one and what do ya know? I did, too! It's just that it was my birthday eve and I was feeling like being incredibly cozy and wanted something sweet and absorbing. This book is both. I read it in one sitting and pretty much had to know what happened before I could sleep. The funny thing was my dreams had an interesting musical score behind them that night. Full of songs about love and loss. Particularly "Re: Stacks" by Bon Iver. Over and over again in my head, this one seemed to fit Meg and John so well.

Stuck in Nowhere, Alabama, Meg MacPherson is counting down the hours until she can move away to college. And it doesn't even matter that she's only going just a few miles down the road to Birmingham. She'll still be away from her hometown, away from her parents, and away from her thankless (and payless) job at their 24-hour breakfast greasy spoon--Eggstra! Eggstra! *snort* For the last few years Meg has comfortably occupied the position of town Bad Girl, complete with rapidly changing hair color (currently blue) and revolving door of lousy boyfriends (seriously, her latest makes Charlie Sheen look like a real catch). One night up on the railroad bridge, Meg and three compatriots have the misfortune to be caught, drunk and disorderly, by the local cops. For their punishment, they each have to spend a week riding with one of the emergency personnel that had to come out after them that night. Meg pulls the cop who chewed her out that night--Officer After--a 19-year-old hometown boy whose only ambition in life appears to be busting the butts of errant high schoolers and who never dreams of leaving. Over the course of the next five days, Meg and Officer After learn a few things about each other that complicate both of their long-term plans.

At first these two seem like fairly straightforward stereotypes. Bad Girl meets Straight Shooter. Sparring and romance ensue. In that order. But then, just as you're prepared to get bored, things get interesting. Meg shows herself to be quite a bit more layered than initially expected. She's clearly got several hideous incidents in her past which make it, among other things, difficult to be in confined spaces. Handcuffs or prison bars, for example, assume nightmarish proportions for Meg. And she has a charming habit of voicing her thoughts and emotions. Every time she blurted out, "I am full of fear," I laughed and loved her more. Except when she really was. And had good reason to be. Then I was full of fear for her and I couldn't stop turning the pages. John is as layered as Meg, only it comes out more slowly as Meg herself discovers it. And it doesn't all come out in the right order, which is frustrating for all concerned. But they're both so likable, you'll go along for the ride. My favorite bit about this story is that in the end, when the inevitable unforgivable act occurs, Meg squares her shoulders and fixes things. She doesn't dissolve in her despair but rather has a good cry and then goes about making reparation and salvaging what she can. I always liked her, but that's when I admired her. Recommended for fans of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry, Laura Wiess' Such a Pretty Girl, and for when you're looking for a light, swallow-in-a-single-gulp read.

Comments

  1. Wonderful review, Angie. I, too, put this book on my "must read" list after recently reading Ana's review, but now I can barely contain myself for wanting to read this one. So I'll be heading to the bookstore for it tonight. ;)

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  2. Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

    I loved Going Too Far.

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  3. Christine, thank you! Those Book Smugglers are evil, aren't they? Hope you're up late enjoying it tonight! :)

    Karen, Saturday was my birthday. And thank you! It was a good one. Particularly since I had sweet dreams the night before from this book. Glad to hear you loved it, too. Hard not to, eh?

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this book. I think it was one that made me really want to read more YA.

    Lovely review, Angie! And I hope you had a great birthday. :)

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  5. Oh my god, SERIOUSLY. You are the bane of my TBR. THE BANE!!!!

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  6. Wendy, how lovely! Your gateway YA. I love those kinds of books. And thanks for the birthday wishes. I did, in fact, have a good one.

    Janice, LOL. I love my new nickname! The Bane of Your TBR. Read reviews at your peril. Hehehe.

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  7. OMG, you read it too? Yay, isn't it a great book? : D

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  8. Happy belated birthday! I just celebrated one too (the 14th).

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  9. Angie - I also loved this book (and in fact, reviewed it today -- Ana is a brilliant book pimp).

    I liked what you said about Meg "manning up" to the very.bad.thing. It shows growth as a character, doesn't it?

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  10. Ana, there were a rash of us who just HAD to go read it after your review! lol.

    Juju, thanks! Happy Birthday to you, too! August birthdays are great, aren't they? I hope you did something fun and got some good books. :)

    Kati, great minds think alike! Ana is teh bomb. You're right. I felt like she'd really grown by the end and I admired the guts it took on her part.

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  11. Happy Birthday! ^_^

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  12. Thanks, Christine!

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  13. Thanks for the review, this one sounds so good. I like the idea of bad girls with more layers than meets the eye.

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  14. Michelle, yeah, I think you'd get a kick out of this one. It was nice to read about a main character who didn't start out awesome on page one but had to learn quite a bit before getting on the road to awesome.

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  15. I absolutely loved this book. So sweet and a hundred times better than I expected.

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  16. Janssen, I'm so glad to hear it. Yeah, I went in expecting a lot and it wasn't what I expected, actually, but it was wonderful just the same. I found myself thinking about it for days after.

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  17. Oooh. I added this to my list based on Ana's review, but Christine sent me to read yours. And I see that Janssen loves it too and she's never steered me wrong. I can't wait to get my hands on it now.

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