Oh my god, this book absolutely slayed me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I sat on the train, grateful that my mask and fogged up glasses hid the worst of it, and hoped I didn’t actually make any sounds. I actually found myself compulsively swallowing in an effort not to full-on cry on the train.
This book is so beautiful and heart-warming. It’s all told from Allison’s perspective. She’s a university student who grew up in foster care with her friend Steffi and was finally adopted at the age of sixteen. She doesn’t like, trust or care about anyone except her friend Steffi. Not even her adoptive dad, because who the hell adopts a sixteen year old anyway? It’s not that she’s seen the ugliness of humanity per se, more that she’s seen the apathy of humanity. She believes that no one out there really gives a shit about her (except for Steffi) and so why should she give them the opportunity to hurt her? She refuses to make herself vulnerable by letting anyone in.
Esben is a social media celebrity. Completely by accident, Allison ends up pulled into one of his social media experiments. They have to maintain eye contact for 180 seconds, without talking or touching. 180 seconds is a long time to maintain eye contact, and it rocks Allison’s walls. And then Steffi sees the video of it on social media and won’t stop pushing Allison to take the moment and run with it, truly letting Esben behind her walls. That’s not an easy thing for Allison to do, especially with someone like Esben who truly believes in the goodness of humanity. But as she watches Esben in action, and sees him drawing out the best of humanity for her to see, she starts to understand that there is good in the world too.
I refuse to write any spoilers because I really think you need to read the book without any. If you see spoilers for this book, don’t read them. It will be infinitely more powerful if you let it hit you unexpectedly, but seriously, this books has ALL the feels. It’s so good. If you need something to make you believe in love and friendship and the goodness of people…. This is the book to read. Five serious stars. Wish I could give it more.