This is a spoiler discussion of the book. If you'd like to read a review without spoilers, or any of my usual information on the book (publication, date read, etc.), that can all be found here.
I received a review copy of this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
It was so interesting to see things through his eyes. The thing that kept me going in this book was his voice, and the fact that I was interested in the story and what he had to say. Jesse struck me as very believable and realistic, and I loved that.
His relationships with others were also great. Mr. Dunkelman, Jesse's fake grandfather, and Pete, an unlikely friend, could be just as bad as Jesse. Their interactions made me smile, even though they were less than polite towards one another. Pete was also a nice way to bring in a character with disabilities, without putting too much emphasis on this or making him out to be the poor disabled kid. I liked that
Jesse didn't take pity on him, because Pete took enough pity on himself - which was also good to see. He had flaws and was treated like an actual character, same as the rest.
Bridget brought some balance to the story. In the middle of these grumpy, somewhat unlikable people, there is this nice, seemingly perfect girl. The way she cared for Pete and the other kids she worked with was so touching, and I adored her and Jesse together. She didn't let him go, even at the end. Her understanding was admirable and she saw right through Jesse's act - "I'm determined to like you even if you don't want me to."
I don't think there was a way not to predict the ending; it's so typical of a storyline. Guy betrays girls trust and she finds out. They still fall in love. What I liked was that it didn't feel too overused here. And at first, after everything came out, I wondered if there actually would be a 'falling in love' part.
This was when I really began to feel for Jesse. I saw it coming, him being beat up - it wasn't really hidden or used as a surprise. But hearing him admit it, that he wanted to die, had me nearly in tears. It was around the time that I knew he was sorry and that maybe it wasn't enough, but I wanted things to be okay for him. I needed him and Bridget to get together at the end of this book.
But this was also around the time that we saw how many people were happy because of Jesse's actions. Sure, he didn't seem to intend for that to happen. He called it business and didn't even like half the people he 'worked' for. After reading, though - awhile after reading - I had to wonder if, even subconsciously, he had done it all as a way of making people happy.
The thing is, the business was all about giving people what they wanted. And Jesse didn't really get much out of it - money, sure, but also favors, which he used to make another person happy. With everything that happened to his mom - depression, the drugs, suicide - it's clear that he couldn't make her happy. And a few times in the story, it's shown that he's not over it in the way that he'd like to be.
And then there's his dad, who lost a wife and is pretty messed up over it as well. I just think that, as complicated and seemingly indirect as it was, he might have been trying to make people happy for once. He wasn't doing these things for himself, but for others.
Overall, I really love this book. The more I think about it, the more I love the entire story and all the characters. It's definitely a new favorite.