Published by Delacorte Press on May 17, 2016
Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.
Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.
But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.
The same week I listened to the audiobook of PLACES NO ONE KNOWS by Brenna Yovanoff, I was asked if I wanted to participate in the book’s blog tour. That’s what I call perfect timing. How could I say no, when I had enjoyed the book so much I wouldn’t get out of the car whenever I parked somewhere so I could listen to the end of a chapter?
I’ve only read one other Yovanoff novel, PAPER VALENTINE, but I thought it was so perfectly haunting and atmospheric, I was interested to read another. PLACES NO ONE KNOWS does not disappoint. I was prepared for the “unlikable protagonist” (I hate that term, but Yovanoff has used it herself to describe Waverly, but I wasn’t prepared for how deeply invested I would become in Waverly’s and Marshall’s journeys (not to mention Waverly and Marshall’s). There were plenty of times I wanted to grab and hold them like the mother I am and tell them they would be all right, that they didn’t have to pretend (in Waverly’s case) or self-medicate (in Marshall’s) anymore. But these two had to go through a lot of pain — and then some more — to make it to the other side.
I’ve read some reviews of the book that judged it too quickly, but this book reminded me of THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY, and in particular of Nastya and Josh’s heartbreaking dynamic — of two young adults who’ve built a nearly impenetrable wall around themselves as a defense mechanism. Plus there’s all the running (on her part) and the confusion and grief (on his part), and the sleeping together without sleeping together. I know some readers aren’t into magical realism, but I love it. Maybe it’s because I’m of Colombian descent, and it’s in my blood. It didn’t bother me in the least that we never got an explanation for how Waverly ended up in Marshall’s presence whenever she fell asleep meditating on a particular candle. It was irrelevant, and really, could there BE a “real” explanation?
I encourage readers who enjoy angsty romances with painfully nuanced and complicated and emotionally trying characters (I know I’m not the only one!) to plunge into Yovanoff’s story. I promise you may not like the characters at first, but you will grow to love them, individually and together.