Matt Nolan is the high school drug dealer, deadbeat, and soon-to-be dropout according to everyone at his school. His vice principal is counting down the days until Mr. 60% (aka Matt) finally flunks out and is no longer his problem. What no one knows is the only reason Matt sells drugs is to take care of his uncle Jack, who is dying of cancer.
Meet Amanda. The overly cheerful social outcast whose optimism makes Matt want to hurl. Stuck as partners during an after-school club (mandatory for Matt), it’s only a matter of time until Amanda discovers Matt’s secret. But Amanda is used to dealing with heartbreak, and she’s determined to help Matt find a way to give life 100 percent.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, published August 22nd, 2017, in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
The hardest books to review are the ones that are just meh. Not bad enough to rage over, not amazing enough to rave about, like a consistently D-student. Turns out, the title of this book says it all.
What’s unfortunate is that the premise and the writing weren’t bad. For half a second, it was a shadow of Eleanor & Park, if Park was a drug dealer and Eleanor believed in saving the world. The content was what was lacking. There just wasn’t enough here to love. After the initial setup–which was pretty great–nothing happened.
I understand that Matt isn’t big on words or sharing feelings, but I wanted to get know him better than the book allowed. To us, Matt’s defined solely by his situation. I mean–it works. There’s an emotional appeal as we see him trying to do whatever will let him take care of his uncle. We see him struggle and eventually start to turn his life around at the end. There were plenty of things that were done the right way, but it felt like the entire story was lukewarm, just going through the motions.
Amanda wasn’t much better. She’s someone that I hope to know in real life and appreciated throughout the story, but ultimately didn’t believe in or really care about.
There were other efforts at bringing up the story like the supportive teachers, little things that make all the difference in bumping up a good story to a great one. None of it was solid enough or surprising enough to turn the story around. There were points in the narrative that made me think things would take a dark turn (exhibit A: Matt smuggling drugs over the border multiple times for extra cash), and those details were dumped pretty much as soon as they happened.
Overall, I wish I could’ve liked this one more, but there wasn’t enough substance to it. 1.5 stars.