Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Goodreads / Amazon
High school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.
But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?
Sometimes marketing strategies for books end up working against them. My biggest problem with this story was the misleading aspect of the cover and blurb. If I feel like reading a romance, I grab a romance. If I feel like reading something else, I will grab something else. The fact that they've tried to sell this out as a romance instead of a very character-driven book about a conflicted conniving boy, enraged me. If it weren't for my expectations, I'd have enjoyed this story a lot more.
So I will save you the trouble. First ignore the cover, and the text about bot meets girl. Jesse aka Sway is one of the coolest characters I've ever read. He's bad-mouthed, offensive, selfish and blunt. He's also at conflict with himself. And somehow, through it all, I loved him as a character. The staging of the scenes sometimes bothered me because we are pulled from somewhere and suddenly placed somewhere else without a straight pattern of what is going on. Jesse spills pieces of his life at a slow pace, which might make readers dislike him without the full picture. But the sole fact that he develops heart-warming friendships with a disabled kid and a bitter old man in a nursing home, speaks volumes.
The array of secondary characters was also part of the strengths of the story. Carter, Joey, Fake Grandpa and especially. Pete. I loved Pete. He was almost as outwardly shelled as Jesse yet somehow one of the cutest characters ever.
Overall, through my anger at the deceiving presentation and the lack of romance, and despite the fact of getting bored several times during the middle part of the novel, I closed the book with a satisfied smile and found myself really liking many aspects of it. I will attempt to read something else from this author because she definitely has a knack for writing exceptional characters.