Life Rafts and Safety Nets: On The Friends That Keep Us
Though I’ll Meet You There is first and foremost a love story, the relationships that Skylar, the protagonist, has with her two best friends, Dylan and Chris, is an essential part of Sky’s journey. When we meet her, we see that Sky’s father has been dead for several years and that her mother’s alcoholism and depression have forced Sky to take on a very adult role in her home. In many ways, she is the parent and her mother the wayward teenager. Her friends provide a necessary balance between work and play in her life. The only time Sky has a chance to be a teen is when she’s with her best friends—and even then, the trio is often dealing with adult concerns. Dylan is a teen mom and it was only through Sky and Chris’s help that she was able to graduate on time. All three come from the same socio-economic class and their poverty is part of their bond. My best friend in high school was as poor as I was and I can’t even begin to describe what a comfort that was, to be known and to have someone you didn’t have to pretend with.
The summer over which the novel takes place is a time of transition for all three of them, as they have just graduated from high school. Skylar and Chris are equally ambitious and have received scholarships to study at good schools. Dylan is just grateful she graduated—her plans are limited to taking care of her son and continuing as a waitress at the local diner, with perhaps a few community college classes thrown in. Though they’re different, the three have forged a bond through shared struggles and years of memories. They have each other’s backs and aren’t afraid to say the hard thing when it needs to be heard. They’re fiercely loyal and protective of one another, which is perhaps why they’re able to avoid the apathy that plagues the youth of Creek View. As the events of the summer unfold, their friendship is challenged. Change is coming and though they’re eager for it, the changes also mean leaving one another. Chris plans to go to Boston, Sky to San Francisco, while Dylan will stay in Creek View. Their summer is bittersweet, tinged with the shadow of goodbye.
This novel is my most autobiographical. Sky is a girl who’s desperate to get out of her small town, a place she’s never fit in, and study art in a beautiful, cosmopolitan city. So was I. She knows if she stays in Creek View, it’ll kill her. So did I. She credits her friends with the opportunities she now has to get out, whether it’s creating a pact with Chris or keeping her spirits up with fun-loving Dylan. I, too, had a couple of best friends in high school who kept me going, who affirmed my identity and my dreams. Life at home was hard for me and my best friends were there in my darkest hours, when I seriously wondered if I wanted to keep living or not. They had their dark times too and I was there when they needed me, coaxing them back into the light. Between phone calls and passed notes and late night fast food, the three of us held onto one another for dear life.
To find out more about I'll Meet You There, click on the book below.
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