Title – Chasing Spring
Author – R.S. Grey
Publication Date – February 1, 2016
I thought I’d left Blackwater, Texas behind for good. I didn’t belong in the small town, but my dad wouldn’t listen. He dragged me back home in his beat-up truck and dropped a bomb along the way: Chase Matthews was moving in with us. He was the golden boy of my high school, my former best friend, and the last person I wanted sleeping across the hall. His presence was too great a reminder of the ghosts I was trying to forget.
I didn’t ask for a hero. I don’t want to be saved.
To me, Lilah Calloway meant late nights sneakin’ out, moonlit hair, and sparklers in July. She was my best friend until the day she left and I’d assumed Blackwater had seen the last of her. Then, like a tempest, she rolled back into town for the final half of senior year. The chopped hair and dark devil-may-care attitude warned most people away, but I knew if I fought hard enough, I could find the lost girl.
I didn’t want to be her hero. Some girls don’t need to be saved.
What a refreshing change of pace for author R.S. Grey! As much as I love her hilarious and sexy side, Chasing Spring is something altogether different. This YA novel packs a powerful punch, delivering a story wrought with emotions and full of growing pains. Despite the blows Chase and Lilah had been dealt by life, there was a wide-eyed innocence to this novel. Chase and Lilah’s entire lives lay ahead of them, giving their story a hopefulness that tugged on my heart and rooted itself deeply inside me. Having been best friends since they were born and growing up in families so interconnected it was impossible to separate them, their relationship is more than a little complicated in light of their recent losses. Left to pick up the pieces while navigating the ups and downs of high school, Lilah and Chase’s future has never felt so fragile. R.S. Grey detailed Chase and Lilah’s suffering in a way that scorched through me, forcing me to feel the darkness of their journey and encouraging me to revel in the light. These two are definitely one-of-a-kind, a couple that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading.
“Chase was my childhood, my memories, and my happiness – things I worried I’d never get back.”
I fell in love with Lilah and Chase immediately. Their pain was palpable and their connection undeniable, making it impossible not to let them into my heart. R.S. Grey wrote these childhood friends in a way that felt effortless. Despite the wall of unspoken emotions between them, they shared an easy familiarity that was comforting amidst all the hurt that surrounded their story. I found myself quickly captivated by Lilah and her demons. Not only did she struggle with normal teenage angst but also with the weight of the world her mother had caused to collapse. Lilah’s character growth was painful, beautiful, and absolutely breathtaking as she navigated her family secrets in search of a way out from underneath their suffocating hold. R.S. Grey did a great job allowing Lilah to evolve naturally over the course of the story. Maintaining her vulnerabilities and insecurities even as she began to heal made her feel entirely genuine and wholly relatable. Chase, on the other hand, is completely swoon-worthy. His loyalty to Lilah and dedication to helping her let go and move on was touching and I enjoyed experiencing the emotions she pulled from him as they finally learned to lean on one another.
“I’d never asked him to take me to the gray. I was perfectly happy living in the black.”
R.S. Grey writes with an easy elegance that captivates, allowing the reader to not only experience Lilah and Chase’s journey but feel it all the way through. Chasing Spring is raw and gritty and absolutely real, shining light on the kind of secrets that hold the power to destroy entire families. These topics were expertly handled with the grace and sensitivity they required, while maintaining their significant emotional weight for the reader. There’s a maturity to this story and the characters that demanded attention, providing a stark contrast to the reality that Chase and Lilah are just two high school kids trying to find their place in the world. Their connection was mesmerizing in its ability to survive loss, distance, and heartache, obviously deeply rooted in their shared history and built to last. I loved the feeling of being fated that seemed to engulf their relationship, providing the hopeful light at the end of their long, dark tunnel. Chasing Spring was fresh, original, and real – a true work of art from this incredibly talented author.
From the moment I read the blurb, I knew that I wanted to dive into R.S. Grey’s newest writing venture. She promised that it would be really different from her previous novels, but I had no idea just how far she was capable of going. While her others brought comedic relief and smiles from page to page, Chasing Spring had a much more serious overtone. She was able to weave the romantic element in with the heavier subject matter so eloquently and poignantly that it left me truly enamored. I already knew Grey was a talented writer, but with the release of Chasing Spring, I now understand the potential she has within.
“In a black and white world, Chase and I would never end up together – our mothers ensured that – but in that small bathroom, under the harsh fluorescent lights, we dragged each other deeper in to the gray – the messy, guilt-ridden space that sat between right and wrong.”
What hit me the hardest in Chasing Spring is how much it felt like a mirror to my soul. I am stitched together through a little bit of Chase, a bigger piece of Lilah, traces of Hannah, and even shards of Elaine. Lilah was this broken girl who so badly wanted to remember the good in her mom, despite the inability to see it in herself. She felt real because I experienced and went through those deep emotions, and I made some of the same choices that she was forced to make. Chase had to learn to forgive and let go of things, and was really that beacon of hope and goodness. However, his dealings with his alcoholic father were what drew me to him. Those fears and inadequacies and hope for more were things I so closely went through that it connected me to him on a deeper level than I tend to experience with heroes of novels. Hannah was this loving, protective woman who would take the shirt off her back to protect those she loved. I want more of that in this world, therefore striving to be like her in many ways. Even though we only got glimpses of her, I adored her and understood her choices in a way some readers probably won’t. As for Elaine, the “villain” of the story, I think we all have a selfish piece within us. Although we don’t go to the extreme predicaments she found herself in, I was able to see how for flashes of a second she would make the choices that she did. Grey wrote all her characters in a way that allowed readers to look in a mirror and understand the complexities that make up each of us. It was heartbreaking at times, yet memorable at the same time.
“For a few minutes I pretended that I was a girl that was loved and could love. I pretended that instead of another sad kid – a nameless guy – they were my soulmate, a boy I’d known my whole life.”
At the end of the novel, Grey admits that a publisher turned down the story and she almost didn’t write it. Well, I think that publisher missed out on a novel that needed to be told, to be honest. Chasing Spring is an achingly beautiful story about childhood friends, but the journey readers are taken on is an unforgettable one. For readers who are familiar with her work, I think you’ll be surprised, but find yourself falling in love nonetheless. If Chasing Spring is any indication of the untapped potential Grey has within her, I can’t wait to see the journeys she allows her characters to dictate next!
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I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, black labs, and cold weather. Seriously, if I had it my way, I would be curled up on the couch with all of those things… everyday.
I live in Texas where I spend my free time writing and reading. My favorite authors include Mindy Kaling & Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m a comedy geek and love all things “funny”. Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are definitely the biggest inspirations for my writing, though I think my work tends to skew a bit smuttier than theirs.