Friday, August 19, 2016

#36 [2016/CBR8] "The Year We Fell Down" by Sarina Bowen

I picked up The Year We Fell Down (2014) ages ago, when it was either really cheap or free on Amazon, but I never got around to reading it. Months later, a day came when my options were few and my urge for some light reading was strong. I vaguely remember not being too excited about college kids, hockey, and wheelchairs, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

Corey Callahan is nervous because she's just starting her first year at a college that seems remarkably like Yale. She is away from home for the first time, but she's also dealing with the stress of a recent accident that's left her in a wheelchair. With nerve damage making it difficult to use her legs, Corey's been through tons of physical therapy. She's had to learn how to get out of bed, get dressed, and get around in a wheelchair. And now she has to learn how to navigate her new campus. Not only that, Corey was a star hockey player. She's lost the ability to do the activity that she enjoyed and excelled at more than anything.

Corey is put in a more accessible room on the first floor of a dorm away from the other first year students. She has a roommate, Dana, and she has Adam Hartley across the hall. Adam Hartley is the sexy upperclassmen, star hockey stud, who is also in the accessible dorm because he broke his leg and is stuck on crutches.

Hartley and Callahan (they call each other by their last names, which I found very confusing because I could never keep them straight) bond over their shared love of hockey and hockey video games. They both have so much trouble getting around that they end up spending a lot of time together. Hartley is devoted to his girlfriend, Stacia, the original mean girl who is studying abroad for the semester, but Corey almost immediately develops a pretty heavy crush on Hartley that only gets stronger.

There were a lot of things that I really liked about this book. First, it was unique and interesting to have a heroine with a permanent disability. I thought Bowen did a good job with Corey's frustrations at her limitations. I especially related to Corey's self consciousness and need to be independent. It felt pretty realistic.

Secondly, I really liked the relationship between Corey and Hartley. They were actually friends who spent time together and got to know each other. Of course Corey developed an immediate crush on Hartley, and it just made sense that it would take a while for Hartley to get to know Corey and realize what he felt about her. It made even more sense when his attraction to Stacia was explained later in the book. Their first hook up and Corey's reaction to it seemed exactly like something that has probably happened countless times in college dorm rooms. Also, I loved Corey and Hartley's first date. It fit their relationship perfectly.

***KIND OF SPOILERY?***Finally, I grew to like Corey's character so much that it almost transcended the romance. Sure, I wanted her and Hartley to get together, but when things were looking grim between the two, I knew Corey would be all right. Right when she was down at her lowest, she didn't wallow in self pity. She pulled herself up and went out for the inner tube water polo team, exposing her weaknesses and vulnerabilities in a way that she had always tried to avoid. She called it her Bravest Day Ever, and it was one of the most moving moments in the book for me. I was so happy for her.

I'm definitely going to be reading more of Sarina Bowen. Unfortunately, I cannot find any more of The Ivy Years series at the library. I did download Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen, but it's a different series, and I don't know anything about it. Are some better than others?

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