Nobody But Us By Kristin Halbrook A Review

Nobody But Us By Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Title: Nobody But Us

Author: Kristin Halbrook

Publication Date: January 29, 2013

Publisher: HarperTeen

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.






  1. I think that had this story been told strictly from Zoe’s POV, I might have enjoyed it more. I agree…the frequent use of “aint’t” was absolutely annoying. I get it, he’s not terribly educated. But there are other ways of showing that Zoe’s the smart one of the duo. Great review…sorry neither of us really liked this novel, but at least we gave it a try, right? Thanks for stopping by!
    starryeyedjen recently posted..Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdMy Profile

    • I might have liked it better if it was told only from Zoe’s POV. I did enjoy her voice much more than Will’s.

      I have read elsewhere that this book may have been marketed incorrectly. I know I expected a love story but found that aspect not compelling. If I knew nothing about the book going into, would I have felt differently? Hard to say but interesting to think about.

  2. I’ve read a couple of people’s reviews who found Will’s dialect annoying but I actually didn’t mind it. I know that us bookish people are going to grimace at “ain’t” but it’s a word other people use and it fit his upbringing and education. Although this story as a whole didn’t match my personal expectations, I still really have hope for Halbrook’s promise as a writer and I can’t wait to find out what else she has in store for us.
    Bookworm1858 recently posted..The Week to Come: 03FEB13My Profile

    • The use of the vernacular usually does not bother me, so maybe the use of aint coupled with my general dislike of Will is what put me over the edge? I agree that Kristin Halbrook is a good writer with lots of promise, I just was not able to connect with Nobody But Us.

  3. I agree that her writing is skilled, but the characters just did not sell me. My biggest issue with Nobody But Us is that it is billed as a romance. I think it could have been a stirring view of the danger of abusive relationships, but I think we are actually supposed to root for Will and Zoe. She comes so close sometimes to realizing that he’s controlling, and that she is continuing the pattern of leaning on an abusive man because he paid attention to her, just like her mother. However, I didn’t see this idea borne out by the plot. At the end, she still thinks Will was this great person.

    I also thought the stupid situations they got into were over the top. Sure, they’re teens and might not know what is possible, but, in every situation, they do the thing most guaranteed to get themselves caught. They could have been a bit smarter than that, Zoe at least.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted..Finding New Blogs to LoveMy Profile

    • I have read a few reviews where people took issue with how the book was billed. Even though it is not the fault of the author how a book is marketed, anyone reading Nobody But Us and expecting a romance, will be disappointed. Zoe leaving with Will and her revelation about what happened to her mother, should have been enough to realize that there is something off about Will. That fact that it isn’t and she doesn’t makes her character difficult to understand.

      • Well, I really didn’t expect it to be a romance, but that really is how it came off. Oddly, the description didn’t scream romance to me, but both Keplinger and Summers’ blurbs said how romantic it was. Had this not been romantic and had they kids not been so idiotic, this could have been a powerful novel about the horrors of abusive relationships and the patterns of perpetuation.
        Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted..Cover Snark (45): In Which Book Covers Are GIFsMy Profile

        • Yes, the focus was completely wrong. A kid growing up in foster care, really interesting! A girl who’s father is abusive, kills her mother, and the whole town knows and does nothing, interesting! If the focus had been on those two stories, I would have enjoyed the book. It would have been a great opportunity for some insight into two characters who are both so troubled instead of the focus on an inane road trip that was doomed from the start.

          • Exactly. And with minimal changes to show that Zoe has learned something and will be escaping the vicious cycle, or at least trying to, I would have been more meh about this, rather than pissed off. The other big issue was how much like a Lifetime original movie it was. Everything is depressing and everything is stupid. They don’t have any happy moments. They don’t have any inside jokes. They’re so flat and boring and sad.
            Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted..Review: LegendMy Profile

          • I completely agree and love the comparison to a Lifetime Movie.

            If I had not received the book as part of the Debut Author Challenge ARC Swap, I would have put the book down. Quitting a book is such a rare occurrence and as a testament to this, I just finished reading The Host. 🙂

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