Publisher: Atria Books
*Publisher approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Renée Carlino has been one of my absolute favorite authors ever since I read Sweet Thing. She's a wonderful storyteller and knows how to pull your heart in and drown it in various emotions. This book was no different. The moment I got wind of Wish You Were Here I knew I was in for a mind-blowing experience. And that's exactly what I got.
Charlotte is this young woman in her twenties that never seemed to stick to just one thing. She switches interests and boyfriends often because she doesn't get that feeling of certainty that shouts "this is it", so to speak. Still, I found Charlotte's character to be very relatable. Like her, I've often felt adrift or not quite certain of where to go in life. I feel that many people in their twenties especially think they have to decide on one set path, stay on it, and go with the flow, in spite that their hearts may not be all in. But from Charlotte, you get the sense that it's okay to try different things, make mistakes, work on yourself, and keep pushing on until you get there because you will eventually.
Another thing I related to Charlotte with was how insecure she felt and how she lacked confidence, not only in herself but in her capability to have a healthy relationship and career. And although her encounter with Adam was rather interesting and turned out to be full of excitement for that one night, the misunderstanding that transpired the morning after didn't help her self-doubt and already low self-esteem whatsoever. As a matter of fact, her dignity was so bruised that it made it difficult to move on with another. Thank goodness Seth was a great guy and was willing to wait for Charlotte. Even after she reunited with Adam and all that happened after. That's where the sad elements of the book peaked.
Adam. What could I possibly say about this guy that would sum up his awesomeness in the story? There isn't one word that could do him justice, to be honest. He was just that wonderful. Adam was facing something so sad and horrible, yet he smiled and continued to appreciate the small things in life. His love for art and Charlotte was so admirable and so real, that I could feel it through the pages. Their connection was intense, beautiful and painful all in one. My heart ached for them, like seriously. And while I did love Seth, his sweet personality and how even though it hurt, he understood and accepted Charlotte's feelings, a huge part of me loved Adam more and rooted for him.
Regardless of how things went, I was thrilled that Charlotte at least experienced self-growth toward the end of the story and finally saw herself as she should have from the beginning, strong and worthy.
Yeah, the book does have painful moments, but thanks to Charlotte's brother and her friendship with Helen, there were humorous times as well. The brother/sister aspect was particularly my favorite. Chucky, like most siblings, knew how to push his sister's buttons and they sure did mess with each other. But at the end of the day, it was all fun and I liked how supportive her brother was in his own way. As for Helen, it was mostly love/dislike for me. I loved that she could cheer up Charlotte and was so close to her family, but I felt like Helen wasn't really there for her best friend in that whole situation with Adam. I thought she could have been a bit more understanding and stop bringing up Seth every time she was around Charlotte. The situation was already complicated and I didn't like some of the things she said. Glad they were able to resolve all that over time though.
To conclude, Ms. Carlino has definitely done it again. This was such a great story. I transitioned from laughing to crying to feeling frustrated, then to sad and crying happy tears throughout the book. Only a few authors mess with my emotions this much the way Renée does and I just love that you never know how you'll end up feeling by the end of her stories. My gosh, I cannot recommend this one enough. If you're up for an emotional read definitely give this one a chance. You won't regret it.