Nobody But Us By Kristin Halbrook
Title: Nobody But Us
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Source: ARC from the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Tour
Challenges: 2013 Debut Author Challenge
Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.
They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.
Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger….
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.
Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love…and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.
This review contains spoilers please read at your own risk.
This is a really difficult review for me to write because I wanted to love Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook but I just could not. There are quite a few reasons why and they start with Will. From the beginning, he rubbed me the wrong way. His dialogue is difficult to read (the frequent use of the word aint is grating to me), he is controlling and violent, and he reacts the wrong way in just about every situation. Later in the book when we learn more about the terrible tragedies that have filled Will’s life, his behavior is more understandable but it takes a long time to get to that point and it still did not excuse his over-the-top behavior. In a book billed as a love story where 90% of the book centers around two characters, disliking one can make for a difficult read. Had I not received this book as part of the Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour, I would have put it down knowing it just was not for me.
I do not know if I am just not the target audience for Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook but it really left me cold. I did not believe the love story. Will and Zoe seem like two small children who are making huge mistakes. It is difficult to understand why Zoe could so easily make excuses for Will and his violent outbursts. Yes, Will had a horrific time growing up and it is tragic, but he overreacts violently in most situations. I think most 15 year olds would find this kind of behavior frightening, not loveable. I know that Zoe growing up with constant abuse probably has a different definition of normal behavior than most, but she seems to be able to have normal relationships with some people (her best friend Lindsay and a librarian that takes a special interest in her) that I found this perplexing.
The second half of the book did pick-up. It gets much more exciting and believable. The insights into Will’s life, meeting the women who his mother abandoned him with and learning more of his story is helpful. It gives us a better picture of how Will got to where he is. The complete lack of stability makes it understandable that he is unable to react normally to any situation. I love when Zoe starts to think for herself and make her own choices. She is by far the smartest of the two and a lot less annoying. She, I actually felt sorry for. Living with an abusive father who killed her mother in a small town where everyone knows, but no one does anything to help her, is completely tragic. At 15, that is more than anyone should have to deal with. Zoe proves herself to be smart but her age belies common sense and I kept yelling at her to get away from Will because being with him is a terrible mistake.
Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook does bring up interesting issues such as the effects of living in foster care can have on a child. How some, especially those who are not yet adults, could see that running away would be a better solution to being in a foster home. That small choices can lead to catastrophic conclusions. It may be my age but connecting with Will and Zoe was difficult for me. I do think that Kristin Halbrook is a talented writer whose next book I would read.
Cover image and summary from goodreads.