Friday, March 6, 2015

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Title: Take Me On
Author: Katie McGarry
Format I Read: Hardcover
Pages: 544
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

I will preface this with a single statement: Damn, this book is long. That's the only downer for me. Typically, I love long books. They give me the greatest sense of accomplishment after I plow through them. Unfortunately, Take Me On didn't have that "it" factor that made me dive in like I wanted to.

The premise was interesting. Haley was a national title holder for kickboxing. West is a rough-around-the-edges trust fund boy. When he nearly hits her with his car, West finds himself plunged into her world. He finds himself scheduled to fight with Haley's ex-boyfriend's brother (isn't that a mouthful) in two months. Haley knows that a.) she got him into this mess and b.) he doesn't have a chance in the fight. So she decides to train him, despite the fact that she abandoned fighting after she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, Matt. Unfortunately, it turns out the breakup wasn't simple or peaceful. Matt fought for a competing gym and Haley's relationship with him was a betrayal to her family. Ever since then, she's just been trying to protect her family. But how can she protect them when they don't even know the whole story?

This novel is the fourth in Katie McGarry's series of relatively standalone novels. West is Rachel's (from Crash Into You) brother. I really liked that connection; I love seeing the follow up with all of the characters from previous books. It's so cool how each novel builds on the previous without technically being a sequel. It's impressive how perfectly Ms. McGarry builds the world of these books and connects everyone together!

I liked the struggles that Haley and West had to deal with. Haley had to struggle with the burdens of her family. When her dad lost his job, they spiraled into debt and now live with Haley's verbally abusive uncle. She tries to protect her family while also trying to build a future for herself. West had to struggle with the crushing guilt after Rachel's car crash. Her legs are damaged and she's stuck in the hospital, and West blames himself. His dad kicks him out of the house, and West suffers as he tries to find himself. It was fantastic how Haley and West balanced each other out. West taught Haley how to fight for herself, and Haley taught West how to be himself. West taught Haley to think a little less, and Haley taught West to think a little more. They both taught each other self-worth.

West thinks to himself: "Rachel said she saved [Isaiah]. He saved her. Guess they saved each other" (407). I think that's one of the truest statement in these books. There is no spineless damsel in distress that the boy saves. It's never one-sided. The couples always save each other. There's always an amazing sense of balance.

So overall, it was great. Katie McGarry writes exquisitely, as usual. Honestly, the only reason it didn't get 5 stars was that it was too long. The plot just wasn't perfect enough to keep me fully invested for 544 pages. I didn't devour it. Nonetheless, an awesome read. The ending tied everything up and left me satisfied. The book as a whole proved to be empowering and heartwarming. Definitely a fantastic follow up to Ms. McGarry's string of novels.