Title: Back To You
Author: Priscilla Glenn
Published: October 20th 2012, CreateSpace
Edition: ebook, 328 pages
Age group: Adult
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Back To You is the type of book that would appeal to any fan of this genre. It’s a very emotional story that tells about two people, a boy and a girl, who start as friends at school and go through all possible tough moments and separations to eventually get back together as adults.
Lauren Monroe and Michael Delaney are a very unlikely pair. They are the talk of the whole school, with Lauren being a good girl, who never once did anything reckless or wrong, and Michael, her total opposite, who always gets in trouble. From the moment Lauren sees Michael in one of her classes, she can’t forget him, his apparent loneliness touches her heart.
The rumors around school should warn her off him, though. Michael doesn’t come from a good family, his father abandoned them a long time ago, his mother is an alcoholic, and his older brother died in a car crash. Besides, Michael is not the type of person to be friends with, he is aggressive, drinks too much, misses his classes and seems to use girls for sex.
But Lauren acts against all the warnings, and the fact that Michael actually acts polite and caring around her, soon makes them best friends. They were friends for two years till Michael’s graduation, supporting each other during the most hard moments or celebrating their victories together. The fact that throughout these years there was no romance involved between them is something that I really liked. This time as best friends not only made them know every little detail about each other, but also made them really close, strengthened their connection. The moments when Michael came to cheer on Lauren’s gymnastics performance, or when she came to his graduation, were so tender and filled with their affection for each other.
But even though they act as friends, a stronger feeling for each other is growing inside of them. And while Lauren desperately wants to act on it, to make Michael her first, he is very cautious. It isn’t that he doesn’t feel as strongly for Lauren, on the opposite, she is the most important person in his life. But just like he blames himself for ruining his family, he is afraid to ruin Lauren’s future. No matter how emotionally charged and romantic their last night together was, Michale makes himself leave, walk out of Lauren’s life. In his mind it would have been better to let her suffer now and then forget about him, than her blaming him for the way her life would become with him in it.
The scene when Lauren and Michael spent the night together with him leaving her while she slept without as much as a goodbye was so heartbreaking. It’s obvious how much he loved her, but his wrong assumptions about himself, inflicted on him by his wreck of a mother, clouded his judgment. In fact, it was a good thing that the author chose to write the story alternating the past events with the present. So actually, at the same time I knew what was happening with the grown up Lauren and Michael, or else I would just be stuck, too heartbroken over this break-up scene.
Lauren and Michael meet again unexpectedly 8 years later. Lauren is a teacher at Learn and Grow Day Care and it’s there where Michael brings his 4-year-old daughter Erin. Lauren didn’t expect to ever see him again. She never forgot Michael or her feelings for him, though, but she was finally ready to move on. I like how their relationship was summarized in the necklace Michael made for her in school of silver ivy leaves. The symbol of the ivy is of a strong relationship, indestructible even in the most challenging moments, guaranteed to stay the test of time. I’ve never given any thought to symbolism or believed it, but now that I read this example I consider it such a romantic gesture of Michael. And the fact that that’s exactly how their relationship was, made it even more touching.
Ever since they separated, both of them were pretty miserable. Michael continued on dating the most easy girls, with one of them actually getting pregnant. She left the moment Erin is born, and Michael is set to give his daughter everything he was once devoid of as a kid. And Lauren tries to find love, but whatever nice guy she dates, it all goes down the drain the moment they have sex. She just can’t feel the same overwhelming connection she once felt with Michael.
When they reconnect again, Lauren is at a crossroads. She can either start anew with Michael, counting in her feelings for him reemerging again, or she could keep her distance. Lauren, being a psychologist, is a very strong character, I liked that she didn’t show her vulnerability, yet she spoke her mind. She was afraid, when she understood that she still loved Michael, but she took her courage and asked him why he left her 8 years ago. If she didn’t she would probably have never known the answer or found out about Michael’s feelings. All these years she was sure he didn’t love her, but this conversation, no matter how heated and hurtful it was, opened her eyes on a lot of things. She learned how hard it was for Michael to make this decision, how deep his feelings for her were even then. But would she be able to forgive him for all the hurt she went through? It’s not a hard decision for Lauren to make, she just has to listen to her heart.
The only thing that was a bit off for me about this story was that it was always Lauren to act, and Michael would always just either follow her or keep his distance. Even when in the end he confesses his feelings for Lauren and she asks him to leave, he didn’t make any attempts to fight for her, thought he admitted to himself earlier that he would give anything to get back with Lauren. Yes, it was all his childhood that made him like this, always taking the blame for everything, but he’s a grown up now. He should have actually done something for once to make a change.
I liked that even though the story was relatively short, the author managed to fully characterize Michael’s and Lauren’s personalities. They seemed like real people to me when I was reading and I got very affected by their story. The epilogue was a total cherry-on-top, which gave a cute and romantic completion.