Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
Overview: Meg is done with living by her parents' rules. Or parent? Nothing makes sense after she finds out that the dad she's known all of her life actually isn't her biological dad, and her biological dad is actually dead. But his grandmother and his brother are living in the UP, and Meg intends to meet them before it's too late. With high school behind her, Meg makes the leap of faith towards a tiny town she's never been to. She quickly folds herself into the community, finding her blood family and her found family, while also facing the stigmas and internalized sexism she's learned through her mom and her church over the years. This is the ultimate coming of age story. Overall: 5+++
Characters: 5 Meg and Micah, the two POV characters are now also my two favorite people. In the companion novel of sorts, More Than Maybe, we meet Meg as Vada's homeschooled best friend. While I sometimes wonder if Vada and I are the same person and I love her too, I think I got even more out of Meg's story. At the start of the book, you can feel how weighed down Meg is by all the rules she's grown up with in the church around the way she dresses, behaves, and interacts with the world. Though Meg's love of God is ever present, she does start to gain back some of the confidence the church has stripped from her when she questions where their rules actually stemmed from. You get to watch Meg come to life as the story progresses, and it's really beautiful. I want to give Meg such a big hug.
Micah is also reconciling with his relationship with the church and God. After his pastor father got taken to prison when he was 13, Micah's world turned upside down. Ostracized from everything he knew, Micah was forced to start over. Now, with his dad's parole hearing coming up, he's forced to start over with his feelings from scratch. This time, though, he has a support system in his friend/mentor James and best friend Duke. When Meg comes to town, Micah adds her to the friend group, and they quickly develop romantic feelings for one another. Their relationship becomes one entirely built on trust- something they've lost in most of their other relationships. They are a truly solid, healthy, amazing couple, and while every kind of relationship should be shown on the page, I'm really glad Meg and Micah's understanding, thoroughly caring one is out there too.
The side characters are also all incredibly developed. There's Micah's family and his step dad who he has a tense relationship with stemming from how they believe Micah should handle his dad. James also happens to be Meg's biological uncle, so he takes Meg under his wing like he did for Micah, and Meg also gets to know her great grandma, Miss Betty. The cafe and outdoor shop owner, Dani, also plays a mentor roll and has a romance of her own with Uncle James.
Meg goes on detailed journeys with her mom and her dad she had growing up that truly paint them as fully realized people. I think it presented an important narrative of how your relationship with your parents changes as you get older and become your own person. Finally, there's Duke who is the most amazing best friend to both Micah and Meg and is on his own journey of figuring himself out in a place where he doesn't really fit the box. The support Duke, Micah, and Meg share with one another is truly amazing and heartwarming.
Plot: 5 I could not put down this book. It's not particularly plot driven, but the story moves fast. Meg has so much to discover, and she and Micah are at the point of life where everything is just always happening. There's always a personal breakthrough or an important piece of the puzzle on the other side of the next chapter. You fall so deeply for the characters that you don't want to quit following their journeys, even when the book comes to a close. I read the entire second half of the book in a single day.
Writing: 5 Erin Hahn is one of the best authors writing YA right now and has been since her first book, You'd Be Mine. There's something about the way that she crafts her characters that make them achingly real, and her stories are always deeply relatable on a purely human level, even if you can't connect with the specific details of the plot. Her books always pulse with music and major emotional waves. This one is no exception, and these strong suits are more pronounced than ever. As fun as this is a book to read, it's also going to help people- teens and adults alike. Erin tells you both what you need to hear and the truth of the situations.
It was a real joy to get to read this book because I find characters my age, going through the more truly young adult end of the crossroads, less and less often in YA the older I get. I love that so many of Erin's books explore that time after high school, and they never push immediately going to college as the only option either. This is a book about learning to strike out on your own and redefining your rule book based on what's right in your heart. It's a book about how starting over in a place you've never been can lead you to the best moments of your life so far. It's a book about how you don't have to have everything figured out right now. There's always time to learn as you go. And I think those themes are some of the most important in YA. Please just read this book when it comes out in September. You won't regret it.
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This book was gifted to me by Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Wednesday!
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