RELEASE DAY REVIEW – 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Title: 180 Seconds
Author: Jessica Park
Release Date: April 25, 2017

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

180 Seconds is utterly exceptional in every single way. Jessica Park has truly outdone herself with this heartfelt, courageous and poignant novel. Allison and Esben were as unlikely a duo as they were perfectly fated and I fell hard and fast for their breathtaking journey. From the moment they met to the final page, this couple held my heart completely captive. Their obvious chemistry was decidedly electric and at times I swear I could feel myself being pulled into their orbit. However, it was Esben and Allison’s unmatched ability to balance one another, a soul deep understanding of each other’s character that made this pair so undeniably addictive. Jessica Park has captured an elusive dynamic with this book and made it incredibly tangible, letting the reader glimpse something absolutely magical and then allowing them to briefly grasp it.

“You can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you.”

As far as heroines go, Allison absolutely slayed me. This character was one-of-a-kind in so many ways and yet, relating to her felt simply effortless. Getting to know this closed-off, cautious and anti-social woman was difficult to be sure, but Jessica Park was careful to ensure it was never too frustrating for the reader. Allison’s insecurities were obviously a product of her past and gave her a sense of vulnerability that was genuine. I understood her walls and the purpose they served, respecting the strength she unknowingly demonstrated with each small moment of openness. With Esben’s help this character transformed in spectacular ways over the course of the story and it was in fact Allison’s immense character growth that made this book such an inspiring and deeply satisfying read.

“I do not think. I do not remember. I do not plan. I empty my mind until I am barren, until I don’t feel like me, until I don’t feel like anyone. I just exist. Barely.”

If you’re looking for a swoon-worthy book boyfriend, look no further than Esben. He was enigmatic in a way that was mesmerizing – immediately grabbing my attention and holding me under his spell long after the final page had been turned. I loved how understanding, kind, and unfailingly positive this character was. Esben’s outlook on life challenged me to see the best in humanity and believe a little harder in our innate capacity for goodness and love. It’s been a long time since a character ignited in me such a fierce sense of hope, but Esben did so without question. Jessica Park also did a phenomenal job at unraveling this character, pushing past his social media persona to expose the flawed pieces of this hero – humanizing Esben in a way that only made me love him that much more.

“Hold on to your one. Remember? I have you, and you have me.”

As much as this story was Esben and Allison’s, it also belonged to the brilliant secondary characters that colored this couple’s world. I absolutely adored getting to know Simon and Kerry. They not only brought levity and heart to the story, but also gave depth and dimensionality to the main characters. Arguably, the most important outside relationship in this novel was that between Allison and her best friend Steffi. Born out of necessity and made strong by a shared history of heartache, this was honestly one of the most complex and gut wrenchingly honest friendships I’ve ever read. These two made me laugh and filled my heart with happiness in the way only epic best friends can. Allison and Steffi’s friendship was heady, carrying the weight of their secrets and fears along with all of their hopes for the future. Moved by the desperation and pain from which their inimitable bond was forged, these besties brought me to tears on several occasions.

“I don’t want closure. I don’t want this to be done. Not with you.”

Relevant, smart, and overflowing with feeling, 180 Seconds is a beacon of hope in a social media world. Jessica Park delivers the kind of novel that demands to be felt. Perfectly paced and written with all of the grace, intelligence and heart I’ve come to love from this author, no one tells a story quite like Jessica Park. She reeled me in with plenty of adorably sweet moments and intriguing angst only to wholly devastate my heart by the most unexpected turn of events. Every raw emotion, every honest revelation bled from the pages of Esben and Allison’s story until I couldn’t help but feel it all, deeply and irrevocably. Overwhelmingly honest, beautifully real and all consuming, this story rocked me to my core. 180 Seconds is not only the best book I’ve read so far this year, it is easily one of my favorite books of all time. Esben and Allison’s journey is simply unparalleled and 180 Seconds is a definite must read. #thisbookthisbook

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