Book Review: No-Where But Here by Katie McGarry

Title: No-Where But Here
Author: Katie McGarry
Published: 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

My Rating: red-starred-starred-star 1/2

This was my intro to McGarry’s writing and this book was one of my most anticipated reads of the year for the sole reason that it was compared to Sons of Anarchy for YA. This is a YA Contemporary Romance and it’s told in dual perspective from Emily and Oz.

Emily lives with her Mom and her Dad who adopted her when she was a baby and she sees her biological father once a year. With her Dad being a doctor she grows up in Florida, well-off and seriously sheltered, afraid of anything, unable to make any decisions without her parents and does not like change, adventures or anything exciting. Things change for Emily when she visits for the first time her biological father’s home in Kentucky. In the redneck backwoods were ‘merica is great lives her extended family – who is an MC family. If you’ve watched Sons of Anarchy you’ll understand this very well.

Then there’s Oz, the most interesting yet typical part of our equation. Oz has grown up dirt poor, an adoptive son to the head of the motorcycle club he’s wanted nothing more than to graduate High School and finally be allowed to patch in to the family. On the day before he’s going to patch in, Emily arrives throwing the group and Oz’s lives into a spin. Our plot goes on from there.

I think this story could’ve been a 4 star read but for me there were certain elements that never allowed me to grasp the 4th star, especially that conclusion. I felt that vital conversations were not had and people who I needed to have one last scene did not. That being said, this is an enjoyable book, it’s fast paced and it delivered what a YA Contemporary romance promises to deliver. The best character in the book is Olivia, she is just… Gemma Morrow and her ties into this story created the best emotional punches because Olivia is in stage 4 cancer when Emily meets her. So both Oz and Emily are dealing with loss and change. I think this book raises excellent questions about loving both your biological father and the man who raised you, I think it did a great job of portraying Emily’s inner struggle to make it OK that share her love between the two men. I think this is truly a father-daughter story along with a grandmother-granddaughter story.

On the negative the end was lagging – the big family secret was… patched up. Also, I think it could’ve been condensed, this book clocked in at 445 pages which was way longer than it needed to be. YA Contemporaries have no reason to be this long. Aside from that, I will read McGarry again – I might also pick up the companion novel which focus on one of the most interesting yet unexplored characters in this story.

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