My first Dessen. I really enjoyed how effortlessly I could be a part of Auden's world. I thought she did a great job when Auden was screwing up her relationship with Eli, not knowing why she was doing it and unable to stop herself. Perfect teen angst.
I was impressed with all the strong female characters. There's Auden, a smart teen (who's good at math), who has spent a lot of time and energy managing her family. Auden's mother, while maybe a little cold, is a highly regarded college professor. Auden's father's new wife Heidi has a master's degree in business and owns her own store. Auden's new friend Maggie is pretty much great at everything, except being girlie enough for her mother. Esther and Leah are both completely comfortable with their individuality. No apologies. Even Eli's mother, Karen Stock, sails I and is super mom to both Heidi and her baby. All great, interesting characters. Don't get me wrong,they almost all have their flaws and problems. Otherwise, we wouldn't have much of a story.
The male characters on the other hand were mostly weak in my opinion. Auden's father once again checks out of being a husband and father after the birth of his new daughter. Auden's brother Hollis has been backpacking his way around the world, avoiding any real life responsibilities (until he meets Laura, another strong female character). Eli pretty much shuts down his life after his best friend died. I'm not saying he shouldn't be devastated but he has stopped doing everything, avoiding his friends, passed on going to college. Jake is an empty-headed party boy. Adam has been secretly in love with Maggie for years but is afraid to act on his feelings. Only Clyde is a strong character, comfortable with himself. Clyde is cool.