I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
SHE JUST WANTED OUT UNTIL THERE WAS A REASON TO STAY.
Topics of Interest: art, poverty, war, friendship, romance, physical handicaps, PTSD, grief
Curriculum Connections: English, Art
Blurb: Have you ever seen the movie Identity starring John Cusack? Released in 2003, it’s set in a rundown, roadside hotel and takes place over the course of one night. I don’t want to give too much away (because it has one of the best twists I’ve ever seen), but here’s the gist: stormy night, middle of nowhere, one murder after another. Oh, and about halfway through the movie all of the guests realize that they have the same birthday. Enough said.
Skylar Evans, in I’ll Meet You There, works in a roadside hotel called Paradise. Unfortunately it doesn’t live up to its name. But it does have a pool, and each room has a theme, so that’s pretty cool.
Skylar is buying time until she can get out of her small hick town forever. She’s had enough of the trailer park and her mother’s boyfriend, and can’t wait to go away to college to study Art. She spends as many days as possible at Paradise with Marge, the owner and Sky’s pseudo-mother figure, and Josh, a local boy fresh from Afghanistan.
Josh thought he’d escaped small-town life when he joined the Marines, but the landmine that took his leg gave him a one-way ticket back home. Haunted by PTSD, he finds comfort in his growing feelings for Sky.
Then Sky’s mom loses her job and refuses to look for another one. And to complicate life further, Sky thinks she’s falling in love with Josh.
How do you follow your dream out of a nowhere town when, for the first time in your life, there are reasons to stay?
Flavour: “As I sat there holding my mother together, I realized that the thing I’d been fearing for most of my life was finally happening: that I’d be so close to getting out, then just at the last moment, something would happen, that would keep me in Creek View indefinitely. I always thought it would be a freakish thing, like a natural disaster or getting a brain tumor. Not this.” (34)
“Central California was a veritable no-man’s land: this was not the California of people’s dreams. We didn’t have a music video world of palm trees and sandy beaches that we frolicked on under the sun. I mean, there were more items on the McDonald’s Value Menu than there were things to do in Creek View.” (41)
“[Josh’s brother] frowned for a second, then looked up at me, finally meeting my eyes. ‘He’d kill me if I told anyone this, but…He gets these nightmares. Like really bad ones. From the war. Every night, Skylar. And when you guys were hanging out a lot, he wasn’t getting them. Or at least not like before—I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night because my brother was screaming like he’d just lost his leg.’” (299)
“’Well, sweet pea, you really screwed up, didn’t you?’ [Marge] said. I’d pieced enough of the night together in my head to know that I had become the world’s biggest hypocrite. ‘Marge, I—‘ My voice broke. She looked at me over her John Lennon sunglasses. ‘You remember.’ ‘Enough,’ I whispered. ‘Good.’ Then she patted the chair next to her. ‘Some people get second chances. I know you won’t waste it.’ I wasn’t so sure. My life had suddenly become a surrealist painting, where the universe’s laws no longer applied.” (328-29)