Published by Simon Pulse on August 27, 2013
Source: BEA 2013
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.
The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.
Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.
Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending.
Caroline’s story heads down two paths when her beloved grandmother is near death. Caroline’s family is visiting her grandmother in the hospital to say their goodbyes. Caroline’s best friend, Simone, encourages Caroline to get out for a while to attend a party. Subsequent chapters are titled “Stay” or “Go.” (BTW – thanks to the publisher for including Stay or Go at the bottom of each page, a huge help in a book like this.) “Stay Caroline” declines the invite and is present in the hospital for her grandmother’s death, while “Go Caroline” attends the party and therefore misses her grandmother’s passing. We’re not given any reason why Caroline’s life divides into parallel paths. It’s certainly tied to the passing of her grandmother, but frankly, she doesn’t seem to grieve very long, and she’s soon consumed with silly, trivial boy problems.
Stay Caroline quickly gets involved with Joel, a guy she’s had a crush on for a long time. He has zero charm, he doesn’t treat Caroline well, and it seems that she’s the only one who can’t see what a douchebag he is. She allows Joel to manipulate her with ease, and when he disrespects or humiliates her, a mild apology and a kiss are all that’s needed to get him back in her good graces. It was very hard to root for a doormat like Stay Caroline.
Go Caroline is a bit more likable, but her story isn’t any better. Go Caroline meets Chris at the party she attends as her grandmother passes away. She does feel guilt for her decision, but her ridiculously fast-paced romance with Chris washes that all away. To further separate this story from Stay Caroline, Go Caroline makes an impulsive decision to live with her father, despite being estranged from him in the five years since her parents’ divorce. It didn’t make much sense and seemed like the authors did it just to give the two Carolines something different to do.
There are a few minor side stories: school bullies, the grandmother’s lost necklace, and sibling drama, but none of it is of any consequence. Caroline’s sole focus in both stories is on two guys – one who’s a complete asshole, and the other who is barely memorable aside from his insta-love for Caroline. I’m still wondering what either guy saw in her.
Review posted at Goodreads.