Everyone thought we’d be the ones who made it through high school. The ones who’d get married and stay married forever. The example of how young love can work.
We thought so, too.
Too bad life had other plans.
It’s been three years since Hayley and Nate broke each other’s hearts. Three years, and a lot has changed. Hayley’s a freshman in Bushwick University, and the only things keeping her sane are stress baking, and her a cappella group, Twelve Beats in a Bar.
Nate’s a Marine, stationed in Afghanistan. The only thing that’s keeping him sane is the last picture he has of him and Hayley, and the hope that maybe when the hell of deployment is over, he can find her again and apologize.
One explosion will change everything.
When a bomb kills all of Nate’s unit, leaving him missing a leg and eyesight in one eye, he’s sent back home to Texas. Texas, where he loved Hayley more than he could possibly imagine ever loving anyone else.
With seemingly endless amounts of free time and needing something to distract himself, Nate starts making YouTube videos, imploring Hayley to come back to him, and come back to Texas.
Hayley’s life is wrapped around the Beats, making sure she doesn’t flunk out of biology class, and babysitting Ohio’s smallest monster, Brandon. She doesn't want to admit it, but she misses Nate more than anything.
It’s too bad she doesn’t know just how much he misses her, too…
Hayley and Nate were high school sweethearts, but when he turned eighteen he enlisted and left her behind. That was three years ago and they haven't talked since. Hayley is now starting college, a fresh start and a whole lot of new friends. While managing her classes and work isn't easy, it is a great distraction from all her thoughts.
It's been three years, but it's very clear Hayley hasn't moved on at all or hasn't even tried to. Not just that, it seems more time passes the worse it becomes. Now I understand she loved and might miss him, though for me it was at times a bit too much. They were together for one year, and in the way they broke up it's clear they stilled loved each other. It's rather the fact that Hayley hasn't even really tried, that mostly bugged. As a person I think she's pretty wonderful and a great girl, with an amazing sense of humor. So while that whole connection with Nate is very sweet, I felt it was holding her back from living for the past three years.
Nate hasn't had much time to think about Hayley. His upbringing was very unloving and when that last person left, he turned into an angry jerk. No idea what to do with all those feelings, he takes it out on the wrong person. Enlisting might have been part of his salvation, but it was never complete without Hayley. When getting back state side and as the only still living member of his unit, this gets him thinking about and mostly about Hayley. Realizing he made a huge mistake, he sets on to get her back to Texas, sort of. Instead of just trying to call her or her parents, he starts making this online video's convincing her to come back to Texas and to him.
While the idea of that was certainly swoon worthy, it kind of missed as there was no way in knowing that she was seeing these video's. I did like the flashbacks of how they met and the different moments in their relationship that led them to this point. It did give me a better understanding of their feelings, though that doesn't mean I always fully agreed with their action.
To me this was a story that very much focused on the past. A sweet blooming relationship and we got to see where it went wrong and the aftermath. It definitely had a nostalgic feeling to it. The ending was again very sweet, but it felt more like a beginning to me than an end. Therefor I am curious about the novella that's coming out as I hope it tells us about new beginnings.
Twelve Beats In A Bar - Reading order and purchase links
The AuthorKK Hendin's real life ambition is to become a pink fluffy unicorn who dances with rainbows. But the schooling for that is all sorts of complicated, so until that gets sorted out, she'll just write. Preferably things with angst and love. And things that require chocolate.