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Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us (edition 2013)

by Kristin Halbrook

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Title:Nobody But Us
Authors:Kristin Halbrook
Info:HarperTeen (2013), Paperback, 304 pages
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Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook



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Fifteen-year-old Zoe is beaten by her drunken father on a regular basis, but is too afraid to do anything about it. She is lonely and unloved. Seventeen-year-old Will has been bounced around from foster home to foster home, and has never had anyone love him.

Read the rest of my review on my blog. Be sure to follow my blog so as to get my complete reviews in your inbox: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/nobody-but-us-kristin-halbroo... ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
Uh... I give up. After 32%, I give up. I don't know. I would not rate it since I haven't read it all. Because that would be unfair.

The story didn't really intrigued me that much. Yes, I want to know what's the deal just because I want it to be finish already and not drag on. I don't really find it engaging enough to continue reading. The characters are not really interesting enough too. It is also not descriptive enough for me to visualize what does Will or Zoe look like.

So yes, I am sorry but I'll mark this one as DNF. I tried. Really. But it really didn't do it for me.
  lexiechan | Sep 10, 2013 |
To be entirely fair, I was not sure if this book would be my thing. The teens on the run aspect didn't really appeal to me, but Nobody But Us was blurbed by two of my favorite authors (Courtney Summers and Kody Keplinger), as well as being compared to If I Stay by Gayle Forman, which I loved. I thought perhaps instead of being melodramatic, Nobody But Us might have the contemplative, deep, emotionally fraught style of If I Stay. Well, I've been wrong before. I really need to stop buying into this marketing that sells you one book by comparing it to another.

Starting with the good, Halbrook writes well, creating two different voices for Zoe and Will. They think differently and have wholly different vocabulary. Multiple points of view in first person are tricky, so I applaud her for doing that this well. The writing's a bit simpler than I personally tend to prefer, and includes the occasional odd word choice, like "vessel" to refer to a car, though that seems like something that my be caught before publication.

I would like to propose changing the tagline to "They're young. They're stupid. They're on the run." That pretty much sums up this book for me. Will, eighteen and finally free of the system where he's bounced from home to home and school to school, decides to take his girlfriend Zoe with him away from their shit-hole hometown and her abusive father. Fifteen-year-old Zoe needs a change, no doubt about that. Her father is a drunken monster, and should be in jail, but that does not mean that running away with Will is an awesome plan. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite of an awesome plan.

Still, teens don't necessarily have much wisdom about the way of the world and everything can seem very immediate. They're young and this seems like the best road open to them, so that's what they do. Fine. I will accept that. However, what I have trouble handling is how incredibly stupid they are about everything once they're on the road. How can neither of them ever have seen a crime drama, which would have kept them from doing a lot of the idiotic things they do?

Zoe's choices can be put down to a youthful naivete, I suppose, and a weakness of character that causes her to cling to the first person to offer to take care of her. Will, however, has a better idea of the law, having come up against it before. He knows enough to get her a fake ID that lists her age as eighteen, though they never actually use this once, and to expect that the cops will be looking for them. Yet, somehow, he expects that they will simply be able to disappear in Las Vegas with just her fake ID, where she can enroll in school and they can live together. Really? You KNOW they'll be looking for you, Will, but it doesn't occur to you that you would need a fake identity too? Or that an IDENTITY is more than a doctored license? How are you going to enroll her in school or do anything without records? What about your social security numbers? Birth certificates? Disappearing is not so easy in the modern age, especially when people know your car.

"Christina, stop being so judgmental of them for not knowing all of this stuff; I mean, they're just teens!" Maybe so, imaginary devil's advocate. Some teens might not know those things, so let's give them a pass on that, okay? Shouldn't they at least be bright enough not to draw attention to themselves as they make their escape? Will, especially, since Zoe seems to have no clue what's going on? Yet, every time they stop, they do something incredibly, mind-blowingly stupid. Being a teenager does not necessitate a complete lack of survival skills or self-awareness.

Here are some examples of how Zoe and Will continually do precisely the worst possible thing in every situation:
1. While eating at a diner, some cops come in for food. The teens freak out and basically make it very obvious that they're hiding something as they leave as quickly as they can. At least they don't skip out on the check, making this the high point in their intelligence.
2. Will spots a vehicle behind them on the highway that he believes might be a cop car, so he starts driving as fast as he can. Because the best thing to do when guilty and near cops is to make yourself guilty of something else so that they'll be sure to notice you. Yup. Great idea.
3. They stop at a gas station. Zoe goes in to get food while Will pumps gas. Some assholes start talking to Zoe and one touches her on the ass. Will punches him.
4. Zoe gets her period and, worried about Will's limited finances, decides they cannot afford the $12 box of tampons (Seriously, why are tampons so expensive? I have wondered this before myself.) and decides the best plan is to steal some from the box.
5. When Zoe gets caught stealing tampons and shaken by the irate store owner, Will hits him over the head with a bottle of wine.
6. When Will sees a news broadcast reporting the incident, he and Zoe run out of the dining establishment so fast they leave his wallet behind, causing the waitress and everyone else to look closely enough at them to put two and two together.
7. The list really does go on, but I think you've got the point.

Will and Zoe's relationship also made me seriously uncomfortable. Yet again, we have a girl in love with a guy she's afraid of a good deal of the time, and we're meant to see them as tragic, romantic figures. No, I don't think so. Zoe, physically abused by her father, is terrified every time Will gets into a fight on her behalf. The formula repeated over and over in this book: someone threatens or hits on Zoe, he punches the person, Zoe cries and shrinks away from him, he promises he'll never hurt her and that he'll keep his rage checked, repeat.

Worse, I have no doubt that, given time, he would end up hitting Zoe. Their interactions had warning bells chiming in my head all the way through. He thinks constantly about how much he wants to make her happy, but snaps at her any time she annoys him. He swears at her, even though he knows how much that upsets her. After some guys hit on her, he accuses her of flirting with them, blaming her, though she was only a victim of their rude behavior. When he does things like this, she accuses herself for his unhappiness, for their bad situation, even though she's clearly not at fault for any of it. Their relationship is incredibly unhealthy and I don't feel like Halbrook made her stance on that as a bad thing clear at all.

What I wanted and expected was an emotionally hard-hitting novel about the horrors of abuse, but instead I found a melodramatic mess that romanticizes what I see as an abusive relationship. The whole thing read like a Lifetime original movie. I imagine many people will enjoy this, given how popular books with similar themes have been recently, but I did not. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Nobody But Us creates a world within itself, a world that only Zoe and Will inhabit - nobody but them. The two of them seem to be cocooned in their own fantasy to the point that they seem almost surprised when they come into contact with outside people. And I guess that's what makes them so doomed - every interaction with other people (well, almost every interaction) is based on the way they just don't know how to relate to people, and their reactions get them into more and more trouble.

The way the chapters alternate between Zoe's and Will's points of view adds to this illusion of separateness. I love how their narratives all pick up where the other one left off. It gives the impression that every moment is precious, that Will and Zoe are making every second count. It's amazing how each event, no matter how small, is so significant to the story that even though every second is narrated, I never felt slowed down by it. It just means that I was fully immersed in Will and Zoe's worlds.

This is a great book, if somewhat depressing, looking at things like what true love really looks like, how desperate teenagers could be, especially in these situations, and how one wrong choice, even for the right reasons, can lead to horrible consequences.

Full review on Reader's Dialogue: http://readersdialogue.blogspot.com/2013/03/nobody-but-us.html ( )
  EstherShaindel | Mar 29, 2013 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: A heartbreaking story about a couple who find love despite their broken pasts.

Opening Sentence: He comes down the road in his Camaro sliding left to right on the freshly oiled gravel and skidding to a stop in front of my house.

The Review:

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook stands out from a lot of contemporary fiction for young adults. Sometimes a book will talk about a realistic scenario and I wouldn’t be able to connect to it. Or that the main character will be written in a way that I wouldn’t be able to relate. But that isn’t the case for Halbrook’s Nobody But Us. I felt that there were emotions that were so raw, I couldn’t help but feel them.

Will and Zoe had different lives growing up. Both of their childhood experiences weren’t the best, by any means. Will has moved from foster home to foster home. He never fit in with a family, letting his anger get the best of him. Zoe lives in a home of domestic abuse. Only being fifteen, she has met her father’s alcohol-induced anger with a less than loving hand. No one around her has ever spoken up for her, and it didn’t look like anyone ever will. Except when Will meets Zoe and notices a hidden bruise. He vows to take her away from her father. And if that means running away without looking back, so be it.

Will’s voice is from one extreme to another. He has intense emotions for Zoe, loving her as hard as he can. But on the other side, he is also keeping a lot of anger inside of him. Maybe it was due to never having an outlet to let those feelings out. Maybe it’s the nature of his upbringing. But regardless of what it is, he loves hard and falls hard. For me, I didn’t connect to Will as easily as I would have wanted. His character was a little too shielded for me, even if his inner thoughts revealed a lot about him. I wanted to love him and I thought he was swoony enough, but in the end he just wasn’t for me.

Zoe is very young at fifteen. It is evident by her life choices and how she is easily swayed by a boy. Zoe is closed off as much as a young girl can get, with an exception of a close friend or two. I had a difficult time connecting to Zoe. I couldn’t easily place myself in her shoes and walk the fine line of her life. I yearned for her, but that was as far as my emotions got towards her. She was naive when it came to Will, and I felt that it was a little hard to believe since she dealt with her dad for so long. But this is my, and my opinion. I couldn’t place myself in her shoes but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t realistic.

Told in a dual point-of-view, the chapters alternate between the voices of Zoe and Will. It was interesting to see the differences in their thoughts and feelings in Nobody But Us. Seeing the same scene through both of their eyes allowed me to see the complete story. They were in this car for so long, driving to where they needed to go, and to see that journey was great. The world is realistic enough for me to live and believe it. I was transported into where Zoe and Will were, looking behind my shoulder one moment and living blissfully ignorant the next.

I feel that a lot of Will’s and Zoe’s choices and actions were borderline unrealistic in Nobody But Us. Let me explain myself a little more clearly. I think they were realistic enough, but the pacing and time sequence of how things happened were a little too fast for me. The pacing was nice and steady in the first half of the book. And then there was this turning point where everything sped by so fast. I felt that the last half was rushed, but it was understandable. I understood why it had to happen.

There are a lot of raw emotions spoken throughout Nobody But Us. There are a lot of serious topics, some a little uncomfortable to read about more so than the next. But I enjoyed Nobody But Us and I think you will also.

Notable Scene:

“I know you won’t. It wasn’t that. Not really. But . . . you have to understand, Will, I . . . I see him when you’re like that, is all. My dad. Will, you were so angry.”

She says it like she’s the one who’s got to say sorry, like she did anything wrong at all. I close my eyes, shut out the road, tell her that I ain’t her dad, that I won’t never treat her like that.

That I’m sorry.

This anger-person: he needs to go away before I destroy us both.

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Nobody But Us. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Mar 8, 2013 |
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Told in their separate voices, eighteen-year-old Will who has aged out of foster care, and fifteen-year-old Zoe whose father beats her, set out for Las Vegas together, but their escape may prove more dangerous than what they left behind.

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