Title: Counting Backwards
Author: Laura Lascarso
Release Date: August 2012
Published By: Atheneum Books
Goodreads Rating: 3.69 stars
Review: When Taylor lands in court from a stolen car, her father convinces the judge of an alternative: a psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, as Taylor soon learns when she struggles to maintain her sanity. But even as she tries to hold on to who she used to be, she finds herself letting in two unlikely friends: Margo, an arsonist, and AJ, a boy who doesn't speak. She just might survive after all.
COUNTING BACKWARDS is an emotionally charged novel with moving passages that nearly made me tear up in several places. Taylor is easy to relate to, and so her struggles pull directly at your heart strings as she tries to make sense of her world and herself. Sometimes protagonists in novels of similar storylines can become very tiresome, but this was certainly not the case here.
However, I did have a hard time relating to the romance. I felt like this part of the story was rushed too much, and it went very quickly from Taylor meeting AJ to falling in love with him, which made it hard for me to really believe it. If there was more development in this area, I most likely would have enjoyed the book more, but as it was, I found myself only questioning the likelihood of their romance.
I also had some quibbles with the ending. I won't go into too much detail at risk of giving away spoilers, but it was difficult to believe that everything would just fall into place so smoothly. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for happy endings, but it was just too happy in this case. Something bittersweet, perhaps, or even something that just suggested a happy future might have worked better.
All in all, COUNTING BACKWARDS tells the moving, emotional story of Taylor as she attempts to come to terms with her life. The romance was weak and the ending bordered on being too convenient, but this remains a lovely novel that would be well-suited to any fans of contemporary young adult fiction.