Quick review for a quick read. “Something in the Way” is the second book I’ve read from Jessica Hawkins (ironically, both books I’ve read are the first in their respective series). It follows the dual story of Lake, a sixteen year old girl who seems to follow the life that’s mapped out for her but struggles to find where she fits in, and Manning, a 20-something year old construction worker who aspires to be in law enforcement, but deals with private pains associated with his past. You can kind of tell where this is going through the forbidden romance angle the blurb showcases.
I find it difficult to consider this as a romance taken on this book’s story alone (as opposed to a drama). It’s portrayed as a three-way love triangle that includes Lake’s older sister – 19 year old Tiffany – starting a relationship with Manning despite the note that Lake “saw him first.” I was actually more invested in the story when it showcased the differences between Lake and Tiffany with respect to their family, their meeting Manning, and the complex dynamic that had to do with their respective backgrounds. That part of it felt real and interesting, with Hawkins’ writing carrying the narrative well for each character despite knowing how flawed these characters are. (Tiffany tried my patience for several of the things that she said and did, but I did sympathize with her on some angles with her life experiences and wanting more for Lake than just following the shadow of their father’s control over their family.)
When the story started moving into the camp and some of the circumstances there involving Lake trying to assert herself in her sister’s shadow towards a relationship with Manning, I started losing interest because it felt too much like other NA titles playing up the jealousy angle. Then again – one could argue that the title foreshadows this: the “Something in the Way” refers to, well, multiple things. Lake feeling that Tiffany is in the way of her affections for Manning. Similarly, Manning starts out being a guy with a complicated background and notable directive towards building his life again from some horrible events and perceptions about his life, but he also sees Tiffany as “Something in the Way” of a potential relationship with Lake, but then there’s the taboo since *cough* Lake is 16, dude realizes how messed up that is *cough*. But THEN, Tiffany sees yet another angle in the “Something in the Way” measure: her father’s overbearing control holding her and Lake (and even their mother) back, Manning not willing to accept Tiffany’s sexual advances, Tiffany’s perception of men using women in tease games so that’s what she thinks “love” is.
In other words, there are layers of dimension in these conflicts between the three primary characters that are really interesting, but they’re only kind of touched on in a way that left me wanting more of that complexity. I’d give credit to Hawkins for drawing those conflict parallels and giving space for the characters to show their backgrounds and conflictions. The ending left me feeling at odds because it goes for the twist angle/conflict cliffhanger. I didn’t really care for that because it felt too convenient of a scenario just to drive a wedge between the three primary characters (which is a very common problem I’ve seen in New Adult narratives). At the same time, I’m invested enough in the story and characters to continue it and see where it goes.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher, but I also purchased a copy of the digital book from Amazon.