My Only by N. K. Smith
My Review: 5 Stars
First, the official synopsis: ‘Shy, awkward Adam is resigned to sit on the sidelines of life, overshadowed by his outgoing and popular twin brother, Aaron. Adam James’ life is far from perfect. A deeply internal person, Adam is silently confused about his lot in life, including life after high school. A talented drummer from a small suburb of Chicago, Adam keeps to himself, downplaying his abilities, thinking that he is less than all those around him. By living a life of moderate isolation coupled with his ambivalence toward most people, he is unable to gain new perspectives on himself. But when a free spirited new girl with a troubled past moves in across the street, Adam’s eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities. Olivia Cartwright is a fun loving, beautiful girl whose philosophies on life give her a deeper understanding of the world around her. Previously living a semi-nomadic life, Olivia is out of her element in the quiet, slow-moving suburb of Lakeside, Illinois. An instant connection between Adam and Olivia draws them closer, but why would anyone choose him when a better version exists? What will happen when Adam’s outgoing twin Aaron takes an interest in Olivia as well? Adam has a choice to make: Keep his relationship with Olivia merely friends or fight to take it further, keep safely within the dormant cocoon he’s lived in for years or find and cultivate all of his good qualities. Which will he choose? Will the friendship with Olivia change him? Will he adopt her philosophies, or will he continue to close himself off in his own world? It seems Adam has a lot to learn about love….and life.’
Now, my thoughts: I LOVED THIS. The synopsis doesn’t do it justice. Yes, it’s an apt summary of the storyline, but it doesn’t convey the actual writing here – because this is not a unique plot by any means, and admittedly I worked out where the story was going about halfway through the book, but none of that mattered because I just loved every moment of the way the author wrote it.
The language was beautiful, and there were so many wonderful little lines that I kept highlighting. My personal favourite was near the beginning when Olivia went into Adam’s room for the first time and he tried to see it from her view, and he started wondering if he really liked Dune enough to broadcast it to everyone via posters on his walls. On that note, I loved how funny so much of the book was, despite its heavy subject. It was so well balanced with the depth of the emotions, and I loved how simply and effortlessly those emotions were portrayed. I felt like the writer really knew what she was doing, all the way through. If I were going to make any critique, it would be that the ending could have been drawn out slightly more. It felt a little quick, for me. But again, it was so beautifully worded. It really hit me, and I was crying, which is a sign of something special.
I also loved all the characters, even Aaron. I loved Olivia. I adored Adam from the very first page, and I am so impressed with how the author handled male characters. That’s not easy to do, for a woman. So many female authors lose me with their painfully unrealistic portrayals of boys / men, so this was a breath of fresh air, in that respect.
I think I’ll leave this with two final thoughts: 1) despite this book all being thoughts and feelings and sparse conversational titbits, I felt glued to it like I would to a fast-paced thriller and I could not put it down, and 2) it reminded me of Speak by Laurie Halsen, which I also loved, so if you liked that, I would recommend you pick this one up as well. Personally, I can see myself reading this again some day.