Romy, whom we met in Ferrera’s last novel, ONLY BETWEEN US, has a tattoo on her arm that speaks as a sort of mission statement for all of Ferrera’s novels.
Out of difficulties grow miracles.
It’s telling…and it’s about to get real, folks.
Romy and Caleb’s friend, Daniel, takes the lead in EVERYTHING BETWEEN US. He has a few problems, most of his own making. He may or may not be selling himself short…or just selling himself. Not all artists are starving. Some are cashing in during layovers (and sleepovers) in Cougartown.
Stella is, quite frankly, a mess. Forced to leave her Ivy League school due to frequent panic attacks, she’s now home and suffering from agoraphobia. Her self-centered mother is, ahem, sleeping with an adorable artist from the local co-op. When Stella’s mother hires Caleb to give Stella art lessons, our story begins to unfold.
It’s such a beautiful story, too. Stella knows she’s in too deep. She can’t leave her own home. She is a prisoner of her own fears.
I caught a glimpse last night, I think, after he found me in the enclosed porch. I’d gotten up, a fluttery feeling in my chest, and went to my glass-walled room to break down in private. Beneath the moon, caged within this house and chained by my own pathetic fear, I couldn’t stop the tears. This is how it is, how it has to be. And that means I can’t be with Daniel or anyone else. No prince is going to show up and break this spell. No normal guy is going to magically sense me here and come to meet me, to get to know me. And even if he did—why would he want to stay holed up with me?
It’s not going to happen.
Daniel is pretty convinced that love isn’t for him. After all, showing someone who you really are is just a way to make you vulnerable.
Daniel’s the eternal joker. The buddy. The cutup. The womanizer. He doesn’t take life too seriously and he keeps himself protected behind this happy exterior. Hiding in plain site is working for him.
However, Stella is challenging his ability to stay in his comfort zone. He wants her but can’t decide if he’s willing to show himself fully to anyone…not even Stella. He knows something’s got to give. His mother offers some sage advice.
“How am I supposed to know when I’ve found the right woman?”
Her eyes narrow. “She’ll be able to see right through you, Daniel Alexander Van Vliet.” She pats my cheek, but her look tells me she knows more about my life than she lets on, knows me better than I ever really understood.
“Why would I ever want that?” I tease.
“Because she’ll like what she sees,” my mom says softly.
Ferrera is the queen of realism. Nothing here is outlandish or tawdry. Just respect for flawed characters going through rough times and finding peace on the other side. Peace doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t come because the characters found someone to save or fix them. The peace comes from hard battles fought and won with one’s personal demons. Through therapy. Through just doing it. Through not taking the easy way out. Through not quitting.
The realism makes everything that makes a reader’s toes curl that much more special because maybe, just maybe, one might witness it in their own life if they were only paying attention closely enough.
This is my third novel from Mila Ferrera and I must continue to sing her praises. EVERYTHING BETWEEN US is an unconventional, but completely addictive, love story. I devoured it, much like a favorite dessert, but only felt nourished by its contents.
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