Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Pages: 445
Song I Played While Reading: Lady Wood by Tove Lo
Rating: 5 stars

   Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father -- the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent -- but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns into an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father, and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understood them both.
   Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're... family. And while Emily -- the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the clubs most respected member -- is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dreams. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. 

They're certain books that you just know you're gonna love. The ones where you read the synopsis, and instantly smash the buy button (or throw the book at the lady at the register). It has all the clues in the summary, and for me, Nowhere But Here had exactly 3 things in it that I knew I was going to love: a motorcycle gang with a heavy focus on family, Emily's father telling Oz to keep her safe from a rivaling gang, and these ~secrets~.
And fuck me if I wasn't right. This book KILLED ME. Seriously, the last book to pull such a reaction out of me as I flipped the final page was Crooked Kingdom back in November. I was absolutely devastated, even though it had a happy ending. Do you guys ever have that?
I don't think I was prepared for the amount of emotion McGarry wove into her story. It was shockingly poignant. I was expecting a relatively froo froo storyline, and instead I got sucker punched in the gut with the raw emotions, an intense, slow-burning romance, and devastating family dynamics.
I've never read a book about a motorcycle gang before. I've never talked to someone in one (that I know of), or even been around one. I've seen them briefly in passing when I was driving cross-country with my mom to California, but that was about it. So this was a new experience for me, and I can happily say that not only was it intriguing, but I'm ready to meet a gorgeous biker boy of my own and settle down with him.
Like, now, please.
The Reign of Terror are a clean-cut biker gang. They're ride or die. (Hehe.) The brotherhood is sacred, and they value honesty and integrity. I don't know about most biker gangs, but I was impressed that they didn't deal in any shady side businesses. It would be easy to, since most people are scared of them and cops in small towns like Snowflake, Kentucky, don't want to deal with 'em. But the Terror didn't, and I instantly respected all of them, Oz included. He was head-strong and loyal, always ready to help a brother or family member out. There was nothing he wouldn't do for them, and it basically had me in tears the entire time. (In case you didn't know, a protective and loyal guy is My Thing™.) I was a little more iffy on Emily, however. She could be my only complaint of Nowhere But Here because she could be... conservative, I guess you could say, on certain things. It wasn't everything, thank god, but she would be really nit picky and judgy on things, like if Oz had a gun on him (for protective purposes, I might add), or the bras that were nailed to the wall in the clubhouse. I'm a relatively laid back person, and that sort of stuff doesn't bother me. In fact, I think I would fit damn well in their world. I liked the dark, wilder side of the clubhouse, and wouldn't have minded my shot at getting my bra nailed to the wall or taking part in the wet t-shirt contest. It bothers me when someone walks into another persons home (or clubhouse, if we're being specific here) and judges them for what they do and how they act. It's their place. They can do whatever the hell they want, and you can leave if you don't like it.
Even though she irritated me, I couldn't deny the scorching sexual tension between her and Oz. I would literally start to sweat while reading about them. McGarry's writing, while somewhat cliche at times, was meticulous and enthralling. I felt like I was right there with Emily and Oz in the woods, or with Olivia in her log cabin.
What really made Nowhere But Here stand out was its side characters. There was a lot, and at first, it was a little hard to keep up. There was Eli, Olivia, Cyrus, Izzy, Razor, Violet, Chevy,  Jeff... I was tripping over names left and right for the first quarter of the book. But once I got the hang of who was who, I slipped easily in this messy, chaotic, beautiful family. Unearthing all the secrets of the McKinley family was painful and tender, twining a story of unshakable love and devastating loss.
Give this one a try, fam. I think you'll like it.

"This club is legit and it will say legit. You are legit. Do you understand?"
"I got it. I'm clean. The club's clean. We're so jacked up on suds that we squeak when we walk."

"My gaze immediately hits Olivia. She presses a hand to her heart, like she did when she lowered herself to my height and explained that it was time for me to go live with Mom and Dad. Just like she did when she wiped my tears away and explained that this would always be my home. That I would always be her family.
Ten years later and when I tell someone I'm coming home, it's not to the trailer down the way, it's to here. Olivia is my home."

"After I tell you, though," Oz hedges. "I want you to promise me something."
"That you'll leave here for a few minutes. Eat. Rest. Talk with your dad."
Panic cramp my stomach at the idea of leaving Eli. "I don't know."
Oz's arms create a protective shelter. "I want you to trust me to watch Eli while you take a break. Trust me to chase your monsters away."

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