REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Just Like You Said It Would Be
by C. K. Kelly Martin
Just Like You Said It Would Be by C. K. Kelly Martin is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Did you ever want something so much that it felt like a kind of sickness, one you didn’t want to be cured of? On New Year’s Eve the feeling compels seventeen-year-old Amira to text the Irish ex-boyfriend she’s been missing desperately since they broke up at the end of summer, when she returned to Canada.
Did you ever want something so much that it felt like a kind of sickness—one you didn’t want to be cured of because you knew stamping it out would leave you with so much less that you’d be a different person? I didn’t know what it was like to feel that way until last summer and I know the feeling better still now.
Sometimes when I’m alone I let myself wallow in it until my throat begins to burn. Most of the time, though, I push myself to keep things together, act like I’m fine and remind myself that I can’t truly be as gone as I feel because it’s not like me to be out of control.
But I am. I haven’t seen him in over four months and I miss him more today than I did the day after we said goodbye. I didn’t have any choice when it came to the way things ended, but I still feel like I made a mistake that I’ll never stop regretting.
Pain begins to radiate across my forehead as memories from last summer stream behind my eyes. Fighting in the street with him, jealous, bitter, and sad. Us curled up together, skin to skin in my aunt and uncle’s shed, breathing each other in like we could never get close enough. The intent way he’d listen, his face a mystery to me. The way he’d look at me, his electric blue eyes making me feel restless, dizzy, and full of ache. I wanted to know every thought running through his mind, unlock him for good and learn all his secrets.
Maybe none of that sounds earth-shattering, but it was to me. His voice. His fingers on the guitar. His perfect wrists. The intensity with which he loved music, as though it was something sacred. Every time he walked into a room he made it feel like a more interesting place. What could be bigger than that?
And what do you do when you don’t have that anymore and the memory of it has to be enough? I can’t work that out, but I know—as my eyes skip around the crowded living room searching out my friends—that it was a mistake to drag Lennox to this party with us. Lennox is someone I could’ve liked before—there’s a good chance we would’ve been something to each other if last summer had never happened—but after, when someone three thousand miles away is occupying all the emotional space inside me, it’s impossible.
Lennox and I have always had a fun time talking movies and kidding around and I guess I wanted, for a few minutes when we were closing the store together earlier tonight, to be the old Amira on New Year’s Eve. The one who was always on an even keel and didn’t spend the majority of her time wanting someone she’d never have again. But now that Lennox is leaning in close enough that I can smell his aftershave it’s obvious I shouldn’t be here with him. Better still, I should’ve skipped any big New Year’s celebrations and headed over to Jocelyn’s place with a movie from the store. Being surrounded by varying levels of drunkenness, frenzied dancing and hoots of excitement is only making me more miserable.
Lennox smoothes one of his thumbs across my cheek and smiles at me as we listen to clambering voices count down to the New Year. I don’t flinch at his touch, but I don’t smile either. I feel bad for doing this to him. Bad enough to kiss him back when the voices reach “one” and he slides his mouth against mine.
It’s not a bad kiss, but it just doesn’t feel like anything. It’s empty. For me, anyway.
Around us people are shouting in happy voices and Bono Vox peals out from the sound system. Being Irish and from Dublin just like him, U2 would have to be the first thing I’d hear in the new year and I almost laugh, the bitterness catching in my throat. Lennox sees my hint of a smile and thinks it’s for him. He moves in for a second kiss, but this time around he’s going to be disappointed because I just can’t.
I bend my head and push my hand gently against his shoulder, hoping Lennox will read my body language and revert automatically back to the friendly working relationship we had before tonight. Don’t make me explain, Lennox. Please.
Lennox’s lower lip drops and disappointment flickers across his face. Only for a couple of seconds, but that’s long enough for me to digest it. Then he sort of freezes with his arms at his sides, his head slowly distancing itself from mine.
Lennox’s brown eyes peer expectantly into my own. When I take too long to say anything he shrugs dejectedly, like he doesn’t understand. “What just happened?” he asks.
I’m grinding my molars and staring past him, trying to come up with the right words, when Yanna appears in my line of vision. She throws her arms around me and hugs me tight. “Happy New Year!” she bellows.
“Happy New Year!” I yell back, my voice cracking.
By the time we’ve let go of each other the space where Lennox was standing is empty. I think I spy the back of his checked shirt disappearing into the crowd. “Where’s Ker?” I ask. Kérane’s the other friend we came with tonight and the one we usually worry about in party situations due to her tendency to drink too much, make out with random guys, and generally get out of hand.
I spin to look for her, but I don’t need to search very hard because seconds later she’s bopping over to us with a hedonistic grin plastered across her face. Obviously somebody is having a good time. Kérane hugs Yanna first, her streaked blond hair falling over them both like a cloak. I’m next and my nostrils flare as I inhale Ker’s beer breath.
Our agreed rule is that none of us will drink at parties unless it comes out of a sealed bottle or can (it’s too easy for someone to slip something nasty in otherwise), but since it’s New Year’s and I have no reason to think Kérane’s broken the golden rule, I can’t complain until/unless she starts falling down, slurring or getting unduly frisky with someone she doesn’t know.
“This is gonna be our year,” Ker sings, shaking her hips. “Six more months of high school and then we’re free!” Well, not free if your definition includes avoiding educational institutions, but freer. No one calling our parents if we don’t show up for class or dictating when we can use the bathroom.
My mind flashes forward to next fall. I picture myself in a lecture hall with a hundred other eighteen-year-olds, analyzing Citizen Kane or The 400 Blows, movies most people my age don’t care about, but those ones will. The professor will be some award-winning indie director with dark corkscrew hair and a no-nonsense attitude. She’ll spot my talent early on, take me under her wing and help me fine-tune my writing skills, turning me into an unstoppable force of creativity.
This time last year that would’ve been my number one fantasy—that and my parents getting back together. But since then my dad’s moved into the house with us again and although I’m absolutely still heading for film school to meet other film fanatics and write screenplays, I don’t want the ache that goes along with having met him last summer to fade. The thought of forgetting him makes me so sad that I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s like that old Dusty Springfield song Jocelyn sent me a YouTube link for near the end of September when it still made sense to everyone that I was missing him because it was only freshly over.
I just don’t know… I’m lost.
Maybe it should take longer than one summer to get that fucked up about someone. But maybe if someone’s special enough for you to get fucked up about, the length of time you knew them doesn’t matter. Maybe I was as good as gone the night we met, when we had that first conversation out in my aunt and uncle’s backyard, under the stars.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"This novel drew me in from the first page and I was not able to put it down – despite it being a Teen/YA novel. It was so well-written and full of different and complex characters that I found myself easily invested in." ~ Jen Thomason
"This was a new to me author and I picked it to review because the blurb caught my attention. The story was great, the dialogue was well done, I loved the music aspect of the book. [...] I look forward to checking out this author again." ~ rockergirl15
"The powerful first chapter captured me and made me want to read more. The emotions Amira feels are so well written that it brought me right back to the moments in my life where I felt that sad, scared and lonely and missing "the guy". [...] I did like the backstory of Jocelyn very much and would have loved even more of Amira and Joss. I like strong bonds of friendship in my YA. The writing is just perfectly detailed and the writing when describing any level of emotion is excellent. Although I did not like one of the major characters in the story, I still managed to fall in love with the story." ~ Tina
"This could easily be a TV series - a good one. Richly drawn characters, sympathetic lead, a central relationship with both sharp edges and soft spots, tons of conflict, great setting..." ~ CC
"Amira is perhaps one of the most most deeply introspective 16 year old that I've read. She has a rich internal dialogue and is also a character that is very empathetic and sympathetic. [...] The writing is smooth and measured and follows up on all the secondary story lines that create Amira's world. Martin creates details and nuances that really fills out Amira's relationships, her parents, her best friend, her family in Dublin and even her deceased sister. Just like You Said it Would Be is [...] one I'd recommend." ~ Cyndi
By Lynda Dickson
When she's sixteen, Amira is shipped off to her aunt's home in Dublin, while her parents try to sort out their marriage. Between writing to her dead sister Rana, dealing with her best friend Jocelyn's family problems, and writing a screenplay for her summer screenwriting course, Amira must deal with her conflicting feelings for Darragh, the songwriter, singer, and guitar player in her cousin band. What starts off as contempt, turns into friendship, and then something more. They finally get together, but is it too late for them? What will happen when she has to return home? And how will Amira ever achieve closure?
The beginning of the book is slow, and there is what feels like too much unnecessary and irrelevant information. As the book progresses, however, we see that everything is relevant. This is not just a sanitized summer romance, but a true coming-of-age story, featuring realistic scenarios, tense family dynamics, and teenagers behaving badly - just as they do in real life.
This is a touching tale of first love, growing up, and realizing that real life isn't a fairy tale.
Warnings: coarse language, underage drinking, sexual references, sex scenes.
Some of My Favorite Lines
"Did you ever want something so much that it felt like a kind of sickness—one you didn’t want to be cured of because you knew stamping it out would leave you with so much less that you’d be a different person?"
"That feeling I’d had on Saturday night under the stars washed over me in waves, the certainty deep in my bones that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in the universe."
"... every inch of me was wide awake in a way I hadn’t known was possible. Like I’d swallowed a sky full of shooting stars. They were shimmering under my skin, swelling, ready to explode into stardust. My lips were tingling and my face felt flushed."
"No one can ever fill the space someone else leaves. We just go on and live our lives."
"'Hi,' he said, the word sinking into his cheekbones and lips in a way that seemed to stop time.
"Being together felt like some sort of magic. But it was real. And it was like nothing else."
"What’s there to be sorry for? I’d rather have had these past few weeks with you than nothing."
"I should be over him already and that makes it hurt more. This thing feels like quicksand, like there’s no bottom, only continual sinking."
"His voice is like sandpaper against my skin. He could scrape me raw in seconds flat."
"What’s the point of yearning for something you can have, even if you can only have it for a few minutes? Isn’t it better to give in and take it?"
"I love him as much as I can imagine ever loving anyone, but I still need to get over him. Nothing’s really changed."
"We’ve always been over from the start. It’s up to me to make us feel finished."
"He makes me feel like I’ve woken up and that I’m being a part of me that no one else knows exists."
"Our lives are going in different directions. They just intersected for a while."
"Having whatever time I can with you, when we can make it work, is better than not knowing you anymore."
"Life is too short and fragile to allow the people who mean the most to you to slip through your fingers."
"I'm not the cardboard cut-out of a perfect daughter; I'm just me, for better or for worse, and today I know she understands that."
"I squeeze him back, my eyes closed and my body tilting into his in a way that makes us feel like two halves of the same whole."
"Light steals into Darragh’s face as he listens to Derek’s voice—it’s like watching a sunrise in time-lapse photography—from darkness to blinding light in the space of ten seconds. The sight is one of the most beautiful, most arresting things I’ve ever laid eyes on."
Music plays such a big part in this book. I was pleased to find the author's Just Like You Said It Would Be playlist here, including "Just Like You Said It Would Be" by Sinéad O'Connor.
About the Author
Long before I was an author I was a fan of books about Winnie the Pooh, Babar, Madeline, Anne Shirley and anything by Judy Blume. Throughout high school my favourite class was English. No surprise, then, that most of my time spent at York University in Toronto was as an English major – not the traditional way to graduate with a B.A. in Film Studies but a fine way to get a general arts education.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $40 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Just Like You Said It Would Be by C. K. Kelly Martin.