Happy Friday Eve! The weekend is generally when all of our better bad ideas come rising to the surface, but apparently that was my Tuesday night, when I stayed up WELL past my bedtime devouring this incredible book.
And. Holy. Shit. Talk about amazing!
Before we get into that, however. It’s important to note that this book is heavy with a Capital H. Readers who find domestic abuse, child abuse, substance abuse, depression, and violence should be aware that these topics are woven intricately into the storyline. It’s handled beautifully, but this is a no holds barred book, so be warned.
Alright. Here we go!
Evelyn Peters hates McNair Falls. She hates the people at her school. The way it destroyed her mom. How it turns its back on anyone and everyone. The only person she doesn’t hate is Reid Brewer. But the town managed to tragically end her life a year earlier.
But when Evelyn crosses paths with Reid’s boyfriend, the once good guy now fallen tragedy Ashton Harper. Desperate to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend, but even more desperate to protect her little sister, Evelyn and Ashton start with one bad idea––a lit match.
With no good options left and with nowhere to go, they run anyway. Away from McNair Falls. Away from bad situations. Away from memories and expectations. but just because they put distance between themselves and everything they’re running away from, doesn’t mean their secrets stay away.
Evelyn has to choose between running forever, or freeing herself and her sister, once and for all. Sometimes, when there’s no good choices are left, you only have a better bad idea.
“I didn’t then, but I do now. I finally know. You gotta do what it takes to survive in this world.”
As I said. INTENSE! This book sucked me in from page one, and honestly, if you’re wondering how intense it’s going to get… I mean, it opens with an obituary. And then switches to the dead girl’s POV. And it just rockets forward from there.
It may seem like knowing Reid is dead and getting a POV from her anyway might feel less tense. Like somehow there’s no mystery because we know what happened. But no. And it’s not just that we get the sense that perhaps we have no idea what happened at all, but woven between Reid’s past and Evelyn’s present, it’s nothing but a roiling sense of dread that builds in our guts and refusing to let go. It’s that we know something awful happened to Reid and can’t help but fear that Evelyn is on the path for something just as bad.
“I’m lost in then and now and my skin vibrates to remind me I’m stuck in it forever and always, in this prison I can’t escape from.”
By now, y’all should know how I feel about stabby girls and even stabbier prose. And god does this book have both in wild abundance. Each sentence threatened to gut me, carving their way under my skin with devastating precision. Evelyn and Reid are girls who wear their defenses on their skin, sharp barbed wire hiding who they are. And fuck if I didn’t relate to them both on some level.
Except obviously barbed wire is just meant to keep people out, force people away. Even when they make decisions we don’t understand, we get it. On some level, we understand the rational, the motivation. And when we don’t, they show us and it wrenches the heartbreak another notch deeper.
“Girls like us––no one’s seeing us until they do. Then they don’t look away until they get what they want. You either control it or get destroyed by it.”
The two POV’s alternate, taking us on different timelines, but both have a countdown to events. One is Reid’s death, but we don’t know where Evelyn’s path is taking us. To the start of a bad idea, which just start building, one on top of the other, until the tension is so fucking nerve-racking there is no choice other than to finish the book.
And I think that’s a powerful mirror between these two girls and reality. This book tackles a lot of issues, domestic and child abuse along with substance abuse. And for anyone caught in the reality of living with either, it’s heartbreaking and tense and overwhelming. It can feel like there’s nothing but better bad ideas, where escape becomes something you’re so desperate for, you’re willing to do anything to survive. Devore captures this so vividly, so profoundly. This is a book that forces you to see, to think. It’s a book that changes you by the time you reach the end.
“I realize I can’t tell the difference between promises and lies anymore because they’re both the way people say things they wish were true.”
Evelyn and Reid are two girls who live different lives, and yet, in so many ways they are the same. Reid leans into her sense of feeling out of control. Of feeling lost and sad and angry. She wants more and refuses to succumb to anyone telling her she doesn’t deserve it. Evelyn is just as fierce, just as defiant but in entirely different ways. She wants more too, but more normalcy. More stability.
Their narratives orbit around each other, and I love how they each admire the other for the parts they don’t admire in themselves. How real is that? How true it that? God, I’ve had heart to hearts with women throughout my life and been blown away by how they see me, how they interpret things so differently––and usually more positively––than I did. How tragic that we don’t encourage girls to talk about these things, instead making competition and resentment the primary language between them.
“Girls like us have been taught our entire lives to hate each other, and we do it because there’s nothing else to do.”
A Better Bad Idea is a book full of hard truths. The kind that make you flinch. The kind that dares you to look away knowing you can’t. It’s a hard read. One where I had to put it down and close my eyes at how parts hit. The domestic abuse and child abuse is hard. How it impacts not just Evelyn, but the people around Evelyn hits hard. The substance abuse is the same. These characters are fiction, their struggles are made up, but there are people living these devastating experiences, this heartbreaking reality right now.
For those who pick up book to feel and to learn, A Better Bad Idea is for you. For readers looking to connect and give them a perspective of the world, of how they can understand themselves, helping them to understand others, this book is for you. It’s hard. And it makes you feel, it makes you think, it makes you work. But holy shit, is it worth the journey in the end.
Thank you Turn The Page Tours and Imprint books for including me on this tour and sending me a copy of this gorgeous book.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more reviews, author interviews, and more! And check out the discussion guide for questions to help you digest the book, Granny’s Chocolate Pudding Pie recipe, and a playlist.
Oh! And be sure to enter the giveaway for a finished copy!
Laurie Devore’s new YA novel is a searing look at a forgotten girl who has no good choices left, but one better bad idea…
Evelyn Peters is desperate. Desperate for a way out of McNair Falls, the dying southern town that’s held her captive since the day she was born. Desperate to protect her little sister from her mother’s terrifying and abusive boyfriend. And desperate to connect with anyone, even fallen golden boy Ashton Harper, longtime boyfriend of the girl Evelyn can never stop thinking about ― beautiful, volatile, tragically dead Reid Brewer.
Until a single night sends Evelyn and Ashton on a collision course that starts something neither of them can stop. With one struck match, their whole world goes up in flames. The only thing left to do is run―but leaving McNair Falls isn’t as easy as just putting distance between here and there and some secrets refuse to stay left behind.A reckoning is coming… and not everyone is getting out alive.
Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. After four years in the balmy Midwest, she returned to her home in the south, where she now lives and works in Charleston. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV, and works a “y’all” into every conversation. She is the author of Winner Take All and How to Break a Boy.
Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy of A Better Bad Idea by Laurie Devore. This giveaway will run from March 15th to March 22nd at 12:00 AM CST and is open to US residents only.
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you’ve read this, or plan to, let me know in the comments!