Tim Mason is the guy who's been evicted from every school in town, for making every bad choice it's possible for a high school kid to choose. No one expects much of him, except that he will continue to be the screw-up that he's always been. Sure, he's charming and likable and funny, but he's also in AA, out of options for finishing high school, unable to keep a job, and has been kicked out of his house by his humorless martinet of a father. He's The Boy Most Likely To…Fail.
Alice Garrett is the responsible oldest of eight (soon to be nine) children, and she's looking ahead. She has high hopes of moving out from among the chaotic embrace of her large family, first into the garage apartment for a little privacy while finishing nursing school, and then, once her father has recovered from his accident and her mother has had the baby and they're both back on their feet, she thinks she might get to go have a life. But times are tough, and Alice's options are limited while her responsibilities are multiplying. What she doesn't need is one more burden, which is initially how she sees her brother Jase's friend Tim. But there's a chemistry between them that she can't deny...
The two voices of Tim and Alice were individual and compelling--Tim wry and self-deprecating, Alice fierce and forthright. The way their romance was derailed by a truly life-changing event was a fabulous twist, and I adored all the subsidiary characters, especially little Patsy with her "Hon!" whenever she spotted Tim. I will say, parenthetically, that I was horrified by a family with nine children in this time of limited resources…except that when I was growing up as an only child, like Jase's girlfriend Samantha, my favorite thing was to go to my friend Trudy's house, where there were four brothers and sisters to play with, so I get the attraction.
I think if you go into this book not expecting a repeat of the last one, but anticipating that Fitzpatrick will still keep you interested and involved, you will like it as much as I did. The style and pacing reminded me of Stephanie Perkins's books, but it's edgier, and definitely for more mature teens--I'm going to say 10th grade and up.