New Years’ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t.
Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.
Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows about her past. And she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara tries to keep her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are determined to break down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to.
The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.
The Year After You follows Cara who has been struggling with some things that she keeps hidden from potential new friends when she moves to a Swiss boarding school to help give her a fresh start. The mystery element and the boarding school setting are definitely what drew me in to it and whilst personal preference would have me wanting more mystery, this contemporary with a mystery element was done just right.
Too often we get contemporary books that deal with tough topics (in this case, grief/some mental health, and the book has links and info for helplines should anyone need it which is always a plus!) and they throw in a mystery which becomes insensitive to the topic and just... meh. This isn't one of those. The "mystery" element is somewhat vital to Cara's story and her character. It really helps drive home the plot and show us how this thing has affected her.
Nina de Pass' writing was great and she was especially good at characterisation, particularly in the side characters. Honestly, I don't care much for Cara, but Ren and Hector were incredible and I wish we had seen more of Fred (at times it felt like he was just there for convenience, to add something so that something else could be discussed... wow spoiler avoiding doesn't make for coherent reviews, apologies!). I even enjoyed Hannah and Joy's characters, although at one point near the end it was like the author was trying too hard to give everyone some sort of backstory and understanding of why they are who they are and it just got a bit unnecessary, so for that I gave the book 4 stars. I will definitely be reading more from this author going forward.
Once again, Ink Road have another incredible book under their belts and I implore you to pick this title up!