Title: Back to You
Author: Priscilla Glenn
Release Date: October 20, 2012
Source: An e-copy was sent by the author in exchange of an honest review
When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.
Or that it would end so painfully.
Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.
As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?
I don't think I've ever been taken aback by a book that I know the plot of. From the blurb alone, I already knew that I was going to enjoy Back to You, but in no way did I have any idea that I would be this moved by it. Truth be told, a few hours have already passed since I finished reading Back to You and yet I still can't stop thinking about it! The novel was just beautifully written - I had no problem connecting with the characters and I was drawn into the story. As a matter of fact, I finished the entire book in one sitting! The characters truly left their mark on me - a few pages in the book and I became fully invested in their past, present and future. Furthermore, my heart still thumps painfully whenever I recall some of the more gutwrenching parts of the book, just like I smile whenever I recall those scenes that inexplicably made my heart feel lighter. I am in no way exaggerating when I say that this is a masterpiece of a novel that I will reread time and time again, and I highly encourage you to do the same.
The book introduces us to Lauren and Michael eight years after they finished high school; eight years after they last communicated; eight years after everything went wrong between the two of them. Now in their mid-twenties, Michael has a three-year-old daughter enrolled in the daycare Lauren works for, and the two are forced to face the past they have been running away from. Back to You explores the after of a relationship and friendship gone south, how the two involved tiptoe around the realization that there is indeed more to what happened between the two of them years ago... and that maybe, just maybe, they need to be in each other's lives again.
One of my favorite things about this novel is how fully-fleshed the portrayal of the characters of Lauren and Michael are. We are privy to some of the most poignant events of their lives - the beginning and end of their relationship through their high school years, and how their friendship often crossed the line into something more, amongst others - that shaped Lauren and Michael into who they are today. These two characters are engrossing to read about, to say the least. I'm sure that there are readers out there who are able to relate to Lauren's character and her desire for her friendship with Michael to evolve into something more. It's a tale as old time, yet somehow, Glenn was able to ensure that Lauren's character isn't cliche in any way and is multifaceted with enough depth to hook the readers in.
Likewise, we also learn just why Michael acted the way he did in high school. We learn of his heartbreaking childhood, his filial situation that leaves a lot to be desired, and just how much he blames himself for everything that occurred in his past. Michael's story broke my heart into tiny pieces, and honestly, I feel nothing but chagrin at the fact that he had nobody in his life except Lauren to lean on to after experiencing so much at a young age. Furthermore, Glenn was able to show her readers just how special Lauren and Michael are to each other. Through flashbacks, we were shown just how much Lauren and Michael valued each other through their young adulthood, and also how Michael's perception of who he is - his errant belief that his past defines him - ultimately came between them.
Though the story alternated between two timelines, the transition between the two was often very smooth and wasn't the least bit confusing. Glenn had no problem taking us through Lauren and Michael's high school years and their reconnection eight years after. Though Back to You is technically considered an adult contemporary romance, fans of the young adult genre would have no problem getting into the novel since at least half of it details Lauren and Michael's high school experience.
Thought provoking and incredibly poignant, Back to You explores the fact of life that some people deserve second chances. Michael and Lauren's story also proves that though there are indeed relationships you need to let go of, there are also those you have to fight for because sometimes, making your way through that tumultous chaos to find that happy ending you deserve may well be worth it.
Rating: 5 Stars