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Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook • Magan Reviews

Book Review of Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook

Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook [twitterwebsite]
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 288
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: sexual assault, small town setting, accident, football

Summary: Kayla has never wanted to leave her home town; it’s always been her favorite place, her source of comfort. When something awful happens and she’s sent away for the summer to return to a changed town, she wants so badly to piece it back together, but she’s holding the answers to the secret everyone’s been keeping under wraps.

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In three words, Every Last Promise is heavy, uncomfortable, and courageous. It’s a story about a small-town setting where football rules all and athletes are treated like celebrities, unable to do wrong. (Think Friday Night Lights but heavier.)

Kayla spent the summer after her junior year living in Kansas City with her aunt. All we know is there was an accident and she feels guilty and responsible. When she returns to her home town, she’s no longer friends with her three best friends, Jen, Serena, and Bean. Bean is no longer associating with Jen and Serena. Everyone now thinks of Kayla as an outcast, debunked from her popularity pedestal upon her return. What happened to cause so much change?

This is a story about sexual assault from an observers point of view (as opposed to All the Rage which is told from the victim’s perspective). In Every Last Promise, we see how people are put on pedestals and have to choose what to believe when someone they admire does something that lets them down. How does Kayla know she won’t be cast aside if she fights what everyone believes?

In Kayla’s hometown, there’s an everybody-knows-everybody mindset that I absolutely related to. I grew up in this kind of setting where my mom knew what I’d done wrong at school long before the school day was over and I was able to tell her. I also completely understood the “in or out” best friend situation. Sometime in early high school I had to choose to stand up for myself — even if it meant not being in the popular crowd — and I experienced exactly how harsh and cliquish they were when I didn’t conform. Kayla’s story is no different — her best friends are hiding from the truth, protecting themselves, and aren’t strong enough to stand up for what’s right.

Kayla has a very idealistic mindset about her town; she’s never wanted to leave and go away to college. She fears change. When this life changing event happens, it shatters Kayla’s naivety and rose-colored glasses, but she’s so unwilling to accept an imperfect world. Why can’t things just go back to the way they were? Kayla feels powerless and hopeless because she doesn’t believe that one person can change things.

Because of Kayla’s inactivity through much of the story, especially when we discover she holds a lot of power, she’s a pretty unlikable character. As readers, we want to hope that they’ll make the right decisions, even if they’re the tough ones. Unlikable or not, Kayla works through realistic emotions as the situation weighs on her: How can her confession change anything? Her truths are pretty incriminating, even if what happened was done to protect someone.

Every Last Promise is about doing what’s right, flawed characters, and what happens when the illusion of perfection fades.

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An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

May 5, 2015 - 3:12 pm

Magan - Totally uncomfortable, Alexa, but very necessary! 🙂

May 5, 2015 - 3:11 pm

Magan - Lucy, it’s intense. Be warned! But very worth it! Can’t wait to see what you think! 🙂

April 30, 2015 - 5:45 pm

Lucy - I just got this one in the mail and you do make it sound like a worthwhile read. A FNL reference in your opening paragraph doesn’t hurt either 🙂

April 29, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Alexa S. - Every Last Promise definitely sounds like it would be a “hard” read, in the sense that I would definitely feel uncomfortable. But sometimes, those books are necessary in order to coax us into a new understanding or perspective. Glad you think this one is worth it!

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