Title: Slammed (Slammed, Book One)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: January 5, 2012
Reviewer purchased own copy of audio book
Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.
Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.
One of my besties highly recommended Slammed to me. And being that she rarely, if ever, steers me wrong, I purchased the audio version of Slammed, narrated by Heidi Baker.
And I LOVED IT!
First off, let me just say that the poetry in this book sucker-punched me in the gut. (Blue Sweater, in particular). There was such an emotional element with each word--I wanted to go to my own slam and listen to people pour out their souls.
Layken Cohen has an old soul, in some respects, and I could immediately relate to her. She has suffered the loss of her father and she, her younger brother (Kel), and mother pack up and move to Michigan.
Kel is nine and he is just freakin' adorable. He's sweet, imaginative and close to his big sister. .
Layken's life takes a drastic change when she meets the new neighbor, Will and his little brother, Caulder, shortly after she moves in. Will and Layken have that instant connection that blossoms from their first meeting to their first date.
Will is charming, cute, and you can't help falling for him. Neither can Layken. He takes her to a club for a poetry slam--where you get up on stage in front of an audience and "preform" a poem. At the slam, Will performs his own piece--one that has Layken in tears and further solidifies her feelings for him. She is floored by his maturity, his passion for poetry, and his own devotion for his little brother, Caulder.
Will has had to grow up fast after the death of his parents. He is the only 'parent' to Caulder and has sacrificed everything to take on this huge responsibility.
But things quickly go awry when Layken starts school the following week and meets Will outside her elective poetry class--and discovers that Will Cooper is the teacher.
Will makes it clear that he cannot and will not risk his job. He has to put Caulder first in his life. No matter how much they connected or how strong their feelings, they cannot continue having a personal relationship.
Of course, Layken is devastated. And at times, her immaturity shows. But she is only eighteen. A fact that I had to remind myself several times of in this story.
Slammed has other great secondary characters: Eddie and Gavin, which provided some serious laughter during some emotionally tense moments.
I could rave about Slammed all day and wouldn't know where to draw the line. There were just so many epic moments for me: the poetry, the emotion--all of it touched me, made me laugh out loud, and cry. Really hard.
“So you keep your ocean, I’ll take the Lake.”
Title: Point of Retreat
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: February 25, 2012
ARC provided by NetGalley
Layken and Will have proved their love can get them through anything; until someone from Will’s past re-emerges, leaving Layken questioning the very foundation on which their relationship was built. Will is forced to face the ultimate challenge…how to prove his love for a girl who refuses to stop ‘carving pumpkins.’
Point of Retreat pick up with Will and Layken together, struggling to pick up the pieces after the death of Layken's mom. Layken is going to college as well as Will, and they are very much involved in Kel and Cauler's lives. And somehow they make it work.
We see this great "family" made up of the four of them, plus Eddie and Gavin, who occasionally show up (and don't knock) for dinner and hang out.
But despite their closeness, their commitment, and their obvious love for each other, Will and Layken still haven't taken that "big step" yet--sex. They want it to be perfect.
But someone shows up from Will's past that causes everything to fall apart. And now Will is fighting to prove his love for Layken. And Layken wonders if what they have is real and not just a relationship brought together by their unique, yet similar circumstances.
Point of Retreat was another heart-wrenching story, but told from POV, which I enjoyed tremendously. Sometimes, it's just great being inside a guys head and seeing how they think, lol.
Before Layken's mother died, she had created these messages and folded them into stars. All of these special notes were then put in a huge jar--with instructions to only open one note at a time, and only when they felt that they needed it.
Those little notes play a pivotal role in providing the right message at the right time for both Will and Layken. Yes, one can say that can come across as cheesy or hokey--but somehow it just works.
There are so many fantastic moments in Point of Retreat that have stuck with me, they were that compelling and brilliantly written. For example: Suck and Sweet. Whenever all of them would gather at the dinner table, everyone had to share their suck of the day and their sweet of the day. I now have implemented Suck and Sweet at my own dinner table.
There is also an introduction of two new characters--A mother (Sherry), and her young daughter, Kiersten, who have recently moved into the neighborhood. They are hilariously entertaining. Kiersten is this old soul who gives the boys and girls a run for their money.
Another epic moment was when Caulder and Kiersten did their own version of a poetry slam for the school talent show. Simply.Phenomenal.
And when Will does his poem to express how he feels for Layken? SWOON. His words are honest, hopeful, funny, and full of love for this girl who has become his entire world.
Simply put by Colleen herself, Point of Retreat is the story of how Will and Layken had to "fall apart to realize how much they need to fall back together".