***NOTE SPOILERS AHEAD*** This is a solid four-star from me. While there is a lot of good, there are some places where the narrative fell down and I felt cheated or annoyed. We'll get to that. Overall this is a strong young adult romance that beautifully captures the realities of small town southern life. I could practically taste the sweet tea and barbecue. The book is filled with characters that feel real and have distinct voices. The place where the narrative fell flat was in two distinct parts. The first was in the choice of antagonist... or rather antagonists. I get women often take down other women but the trifecta of Michaela's mother, Lissa/Olivia, and Levi's Mother was a bit too much. Two would have been plenty, three was overkill. There's a certain point where the reading becomes very uncomfortable especially if anyone has ever been bullied. I really hope Michaela got some therapy afterward because what happens is the kind of thing that leaves scars. I did appreciate the realism in that none of the bullies got a comeuppance. They win. They get what they want, to make Michaela suffer and drive her from the town. But if you don't like that kind of resolution or moral (aka it's okay to run away from your problems) then that can stick in your craw. The other place the narrative fell was the ending, the epilogue felt rushed and it didn't make logical sense. Yes it leads to a hopeful ending, but there might be a better way to do that. I also didn't like the fact that Michaela changed herself and lost a lot of what made her a joy to read. She gave in to the slut shaming and perpetuated the myth that good girls don't wear clothing that shows skin. I was disappointed with the end. Not enough to knock it down another star, but enough that I couldn't give it five. There is good. Real good here. I liked many of the side characters, Evie, Chloe, Ethan all of them were interesting and it was refreshing to have a love story, especially a YA love story, utterly devoid of a love triangle. The language was beautiful and the way the scene is painted is lovely. Ultimately I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. --- The author provided me with an ARC. Opinions expressed are my own.
After the death of her stepfather, Michaela Reilly’s family picks up and moves from the bustling city of Miami to a tiny speck of a town in the middle of nowhere Georgia. Starting over is always hard, but when you’re stuck with an emotionally wrecked mother who won’t even look at you and the responsibility of practically raising your younger brother and sister, it’s even more difficult.
Life in a small, rural town is a lot different from what she’s used to. Beaches are replaced with lazy, shaded rivers. Six lane highways with dirt roads. And Levi, the cute preacher’s son, with intentions as pure as his smile, takes the place of a string of shallow, meaningless hookups back home. Some things remain the same no matter where you go, however. Like the way a cute boy can make things seem not so bad, or how when you fall in love—You. Just. Know.
It's too bad it’s not only the good things that are universal. Bad things can follow you, no matter how far away from them you run. Secrets always end up hurting people. A troubled past will come back to haunt you. Michaela has both.
14+ due to sexuality, language, and adult situations
The service ended, and after Pastor Johnson had moved to the exit, people filed out of their rows. The mystery boy four pews up glanced over his shoulder at me as he stood. The sun filtering in through the stained glass windows hit his eyes just right, and I decided right then and there that maybe this place was exactly the kind of distraction I needed.
We waited patiently to join the line of people exiting, my mother nodding and smiling at everyone who offered her a half-hearted, or in some cases over-eager, hello.
Of course, there seemed to be just as many people filing past who were purposely not making eye contact, or side-eyeing the shit out of our family. Like I said, it was hard to tell what you were going to get in the Bible Belt when it came to having a family as … diverse as ours.
An older couple, maybe in their early sixties, glanced over, then looked at each other in a way that had me lifting my chin and taking both my younger siblings’ hands in my own. The woman met my glare and almost stumbled back into her husband’s chest. She shook her head, probably at the less than polite look on my face, and continued on her way.
Yeah, screw that lady.
Filled with an almost righteous sense of indignation, I edged my mother and siblings out into the aisle and toward the exit. If there’d been open space, I would have marched right out that door and straight to the car. I wouldn’t have stopped to say a damn word to anybody. Unfortunately, it looked like Pastor Johnson was taking the time to say a few words of his own to each person as they exited the church. I bit the inside of my cheek to get my temper in check, but the woman from before was up ahead, her head leaned in close to the woman beside her. When they glanced back over their shoulders and lady number two looked pointedly at the spot where Lucas held my hand, I could feel myself turning red. No one had to ask how they felt about us—their faces said it all.
Screw that lady, too.
“Ms. Reilly,” Pastor Johnson’s voice broke through my silent seething, “I’m so glad you and your family could make it today. I hope that you enjoyed the sermon.”
My mother said something back, but I couldn’t tell you what. Three people stood beside Pastor Johnson. I bypassed the preacher completely and didn’t even look at the next two.
I stopped in front of the choir boy who’d caught my eye and let my gaze rake over him. It was part raw attraction and part leftover fury that made my perusal so slow, so thorough, so overtly intimate. I went with it, though, waiting to see his reaction to the way that I dragged my gaze over his wide chest, down to where his torso narrowed, and finally over the front of the light-colored khakis he wore. His pulse jumped in his neck, and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed harshly.
I took it a step further by staring at his face, cocking my head to the side and lingering just a little on his mouth. I picked up one of my braids and wound the tip around my index finger. He followed the path of it, transfixed by how the dark, glossy strands slipped around the digit as I lowered it back to rest over my chest. I briefly wondered how easy it would be to wrap him around that same finger. My chest felt tight as I watched his expand with air. It looked like we were both having a hard time breathing.
I extended my hand toward him, keeping it a little closer to my body than was strictly necessary.
“Michaela Reilly,” I offered.
His palm was big and warm, a nice contrast to my normally cool hands. My thumb brushed over the inside of his wrist and neither of us let go.
“Levi,” he said, his voice low and thick. Deep voices did something for me, and his did not disappoint. “Levi Johnson.”
Johnson. Of course. My gaze flickered to my mother. She was still talking to the preacher, but her eyes were on the two of us. She stared at the spot where my hand was still engulfed in his.
“Levi,” I repeated back to him. I smiled slowly, then wet my bottom lip with my tongue. His fingers tightened around mine, and I leaned closer for a fraction of a second. His wrist barely grazed the side of my rib cage before I let go. “I’ll see you around.”
I didn’t know it then, but after the day I met Levi Johnson, nothing would ever be the same.
Great story line. Can't wait for her next book!
Great book! I fell in love with Michaela. I was left wanting more...please do a sequel!! This book is perfect for teens and adults of all ages!
After reading her first book, "What's a Soulmate?", I could not wait to see what her second book had in store. L.A. Ouimet did not disappoint! Her writing style is unbelievably interesting, engaging and witty! And now, for the second time in a row, I find myself in the bittersweet position of having read it so quickly, not being able to put it down! Cannot wait to see what she has planned for her next book!
Perdition is wrenching in the best possible way. Michaela and Levi are both so heartbreakingly real, so perfectly teenage, that you love them and get frustrated with them in exactly the right amounts. Michaela in particular stands out as a protagonist (carrying so much emotional luggage you just want to wrap her in a blanket and give her a hug) who can be challenging but in a very understandable, very realistic way. You fully understand why Levi falls for her and you're always rooting for her (and him, but mostly her). This is the second book by this author, and I really hope she keeps writing YA because she always keeps me wanting more.
Let me start by saying that I've now read this book twice and I even cried the second time. I love small-town stories and this one is the classic trope of the new girl trying to fit in to her new high school. Of course, there's the dreamy Levi, almost (but not quite) too good to be true. Such a great character. And Michaela with the ghosts from her past catching up to her and threatening her chance at happiness. Seems like everything and everyone conspires to rob her of happiness, including her own mother. But Levi's steadfastness is inspirational. I won't ruin by telling more but just read this, you'll be glad you did.
Michaela's was such an interesting perspective to read. She walks a fine line between confidence and overwhelming guilt - you couldn't help but root for her to figure it all out and receive her happily ever after. And then there was Levi! Levi put hearts in my eyes! Their chemistry leapt off the page! Loved this book!
You want to read this as quickly as possible to learn what happens next. Love the writer's style and wit. Definitely a young adult book, but this older adult enjoyed it.