180 Seconds by Jessica Park
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"I am brave. I am brave. I am brave. But I cannot stop the tears. 'I don't want to live this like,' I say out loud over and over through my sobbing. I cry for who I have been, who I am, and who I could be. However, I also cry with an iota o relief, because a change is about to happen."
180 Seconds follows the story of Allison, who is very broken at the beginning. Having lived in foster-care pretty much her entire childhood, she learned to not get close to people and to not trust. Recently adopted by her adoptive father, Simon, she's still holding back. The only person she is close to is her best friend Steffi, who also grew up in foster care. On campus, though, she comes across a boy named Esben Baylor. She doesn't realize he is a YouTube sensation. When he challenges her to a social experiment in which they spend a mere 180 seconds together in silence, she agrees just to get out of the situation.
What she doesn't expect, however, is that the 180 seconds will change everything for her and threaten to break down her carefully constructed walls. As Esben and Allison explore something she never expected, she comes to learn that everyone has so much underneath the surface and that trusting another person can be safe.
I'll be honest--at first, I wasn't crazy about this book. I found the whole premise to be a little bit cheesy; could two people really fall for each other in 180 seconds? I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. I expected some superficial college romance to happen.
And then this book completely, utterly won me over. As Allison's walls come down with Esben, they also come down for the reader. As she finds herself, you discover so much about her that you like. By the end, I realized what masterful writing it takes to pull this off. It really puts you in the book, in the situation, and in the story.
This book is also about so, so much more than a college romance. It has so many twists and turns in the plot that I don't want to spoil, but trust me, by the end, you will be emotionally exhausted but satisfied. This book has so much packed into its pages. By the end, I adored Esben and Allison. I especially loved Allison's dad, Simon.
This book is heavy and fun. It's light and it's deep. It's this perfect concoction of the best of so many emotions. I definitely see why this book has become so popular. I would definitely read a sequel if the author wrote one.
So do yourself a favor this summer and pick up 180 seconds. Get ready for a roller coaster of emotion. Just, whatever you do, don't judge the book by the first few chapters. As the book teaches you, there's so much more underneath the surface if you're patient and brave enough to look.
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