book.review: it happens all the time by amy hatvany

it happens.jpg

Warning: do NOT start this book at 10:00pm on a weeknight. You’ll find yourself, like me, wide awake at 1am, 49% of the way through the novel, and just dying to read one. more. chapter.

A highly addictive read. A gripping premise. IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME by Amy Hatvany is a must read.

RELEASE DATE: March 2017

PUBLISHER: Atira Books

DISCLAIMER: Novel sent via NetGallery in exchange for a honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harboured the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends. Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler. What happens next will change them forever.

REVIEW: What a gripping thriller. I didn’t know 100% what I was getting into but this novel high dives straight into the plot. A phenomenal read that touches upon potentially triggering content (not one but two different triggers), it’s a novel that you will be thinking about for months down the road.

Tyler and Amber have been inseparable ever since Tyler moved into Amber’s neighbourhood when they were kids. Years later, their bond is as strong as ever but with two very separate narratives – Tyler is hopelessly in love with Amber while Amber sees Tyler as only a friend. During one summer break from college, Amber comes home and her friendship with Tyler picks up right where it left off…but with noticeably friction. In one wild night, Amber kisses Tyler. What happens next changes the trajectory of both their lives forever.

I devoured this novel. I read nearly half of it in one night until the wee hours because I couldn’t put it down. It’s beyond phenomenal – so far, it’s my favourite read of the year.

Amber and Tyler has beautifully drawn, and through alternating perspectives, we happen to get ‘both sides of the story’. They are wonderfully complex characters and to watch the plot unfold in both of their minds was perfect. Tyler is still a slightly immature young adult whose fixation on Amber clouds his judgment. Amber, on the other hand, is a fragile young adult who thrives on control. It’s control vs. lust that ultimately sits at the centre of this novel. In other words – consent.

The entire foundation of this novel is based on consent. Here, we go into trigger warnings. The idea of consent is beautifully illustrated here in a way that shows the reader ‘both sides’ – what the man thinks is consent vs. what the woman thinks is consent. It was interesting getting this other perspective (the man’s) but it is no less unsettling. There were so many times when I wanted to throw my Kindle right out the window because the male perspective of consent from the male character is just so skewed. This novel puts into play the true issue of consent in our world today – the basic ambiguity of consent between males and female. This novel is a stark reminder: talk to your children about consent and limitations.

The only gripe I had with this novel is that some major events in the past are slightly glossed over. One major event in Amber’s teenage years are repeated numerously but it’s true history is glossed upon in one chapter. Such a life changing event requires more honouring.

Other than that, this novel is uncomfortable – as it should be. It’s the uncomfortable novels that stay with you long term and demand conversation.

Happy reading.

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