Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

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I received this book from NetGallery in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Summary:

Gabi is the ideal daughter. She does too much volunteering every week, gets straight A’s and never does anything against her parents will. Which is why she’s surprised to be caught in a bathroom stall during a bomb threat at her high school. After she is rescued by the police, events whirl into motion. She’s recruited for a secret helpline that is designed to try and catch the bomber, and stop him before he tries anything else. As Gabi gets sucked in more and more into this case, somehow discovering she’s more involved than she wants to be, her alliances change too. She finds her closest friends within a group of unlikely people, the others working on the helpline. Along with discovering new friends, a romance blooms between her and an outcasted student, Miguel. While trying to deal with this unlikely and forbidden romance, their bomber continues to get closer and closer, and Gabi keeps feeling like she’s missing one very important detail. As the clues roll in, Gabi becomes more and more desperate, knowing the day the bomber will set up his next stunt. Can Gabi save her friends, and the mystery bomber? Or will she have to make a sacrifice she might regret?

Main Characters:

Gabi– Our main protagonist, who appears just like every heroine of stories. Good girl, turned bad by the boyfriend. Gabi had a lot more depth to her than I realized though, although this conclusion wasn’t evident to me until I finished the book. Another difference between her and the common main female heroines is that she wasn’t completely turned bad by the “bad boy” boyfriend. Some changes in her personality happened, but overall, she was still the same person, just with some different traits.
Chloe- Gabi’s little sister. The rebel child, who is jealous of Gabi for their parents loving her more, and seeming to do everything right. Typically characters like this don’t get much dialogue in stories similar to this, but she became more and more essential as the plot-line progressed. The dark, brooding child may be hiding more than meets the eye.
Miguel- The “bad boy” boyfriend. Different from the typical male lead, he’s actually from a different culture than Gabi, which isn’t something I’ve seen much of. While there are some parts of him that are more rule breaking, he’s more like a reformed bad boy than anything else, which was also unexpected. I did love the twists thrown into his personality that made him seem more realistic.
Janae- Janae also defied my expectations by not being the person that Gabi (and I) assumed she was. Her true personality surprised me, and after that I wasn’t sure what to expect from her. Janae is a character that I feel I can personally relate, although not in the exact way her character is. I believe she might actually be my favorite character.
Eric- The common smart boy who Gabi’s parents believe is “perfect” for her. On his way to being valedictorian, kind to all, perfectionist, who could be a better match? As he realizes more and more about Gabi, he shifts his attention away and seems to concentrate more on working with the helpline, while still holding some resentment for Gabi for what he blames her for. In the end though, he pulls through when she needs him most.

Review:

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It was attention-grabbing, a bit of a thriller, but still had more of an innocent feel than a complete thriller story. What caught my attention at first was the cover and the title. The first few chapters felt really slow to me, but after a main plot-line point, I got sucked into the story. Even when I wasn’t reading, I felt like I was analyzing the characters in order to get deeper into their psyche and attempting to understand the things that were going on. The story was something uncommon, but had elements that were similar enough to not make a reader who likes to stick to certain genres uncomfortable. The characters were also well developed, although to a point they were stereotypical. The author did a good job of making sure they weren’t completely what they seemed, and I really enjoyed that. People are rarely what they’re labeled as, and I appreciated her making sure that was visible in this work. I feel like it had a good end, and definitely appeared to be a conclusion, not leaving any open ended questions, but still allowing the reader to make some inferences of their own.

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