Book Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Category: Young Adult, Contemporary
An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
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.
Review[book rating= 4.5/5]
“The wind whips through my hair and onto my face and I shut my eyes for a brief second and pretend that I’m flying. There’s something hypnotic, something inside me that begs to burst out of a cage in search of freedom.”
I’ve been a huge fan of Katie McGarry ever since I read her excellent Pushing the Limits series. She has a knack for putting emotionally nuanced characters on the page and when I heard about the Westside Story meets Sons of Anarchy YA she was penning, I was practically foaming at the mouth. Beyond that and from a nostalgic standpoint, I grew up in and around motorcycle clubs as my father was a biker and had been involved in legit (and sometimes non-legit) clubs for my whole life. Being immersed in that world really touched me on a deep level, probably more than any other YA that I’ve come across in recent memory.
The biggest flaw I found with this book was Emily the heroine, although I use that term loosely. Although I tried to sympathize with her I just found her to be petulant, stuck-up and lacking in empathy. Of course, as the story reached its penultimate chapters she had grown by leaps and bounds, but I found myself wanting to shake her for the better part of the book.
Then there is Oz, where do I begin with him? As far as YA book boyfriends go, he’s knocked a few off their mantel. He’s devastatingly handsome, protective, a bad-ass, did I mention the motorcycle? Beyond the obvious physical perfections he had at his core a kind heart and a fierce loyalty that had me rooting for him throughout the book.
While I had issues with Emily early on, there was no denying the sizzling chemistry that she and Oz shared. Let’s just say that their first kiss will go down as one of the hottest in YA history (you can quote me on that). Their love was not rushed, in fact for most of the story, it’s just a very slow burn, but the payoff is more than worth the wait.
Mixed into this fish out of water story, was a supporting cast of richly defined characters. Olivia in particular was so perfectly realized that I felt as if I knew her, or in this case, wish I knew her. Her relationship with Emily was such a unique highlight of the story. I loved how she pushed the bratty Emily into basically accepting her biker family and all the joy that can come with having a family (and club) at your back. I have to commend Katie for the nuance and detail with which she portrayed club life as it’s pretty spot on.
While there was no cliffhanger, the ending took me by surprise, and I found myself quietly sobbing by the end (a rarity for me). As someone who has lost their biker father very recently, one whom I had a very complicated relationship with, I really gravitated towards the awkwardness, frustration, and finally acceptance that Emily had towards her biological father Eli. I almost wished that there was more to the story just to see how that relationship would continue to grow and shape. I’m hopeful we get glimpses of it in book two, Walk the Edge.
In the end, Katie has done it again, and delivered a fantastically emotional story about the freedom of letting go and the thrill of taking a chance.