Just Finished Reading ... Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us
by Kristin Halbrook
To be published by HarperTeen
on January 29, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

My summary: Zoe is the fifteen year-old daughter of an angry alcoholic. Will is a eighteen year-old foster child who's been bounced from home to home.  They're in love, so they decide to run away together to Las Vegas. These two have big dreams, but dreams won't pay the bills, keep the cops at bay, or erase their troubled pasts.

My take: This book definitely had strong points. The narrative alternated between Will's and Zoe's viewpoints, and it was never a problem to know whose head you were in. Zoe's sections were wordier and more reflective, while Will's were more staccato and peppered with "aint's," which, admittedly, did grate on my nerves after a while. The setting was well-drawn -- as these two trekked cross-counry, I felt I was right with them in the convenience stores and cheap motels.

I also liked the fact that Nobody But Us doesn't try to romanticize the couple's terrible choices. In fact, I give the author credit for not being afraid to offer up two very flawed characters. Will has serious anger management issues, using his fists or a weapon when things don't go his way. He's also jealous, alternating between professing his love to Zoe and lashing out violently at others. Zoe is the brains of the operation, but she's clearly still a child, seriously lacking in any kind of practicality or common sense. Deep down, she seems to know that Will is a bad bet. If the guy you think you love has to keep telling you that he's not going to hit you, at some point he probably will.

Both of these two have gone through a lot. Zoe tells us -- twice within a few pages -- about her mother's gruesome (accidental?) death. I wasn't sure if this repetition was deliberate or an editing error in the e-ARC I read. Will has languished in the foster care system. While it would be hard not to feel sympathy for the all hardships these two have endured in their short lives, it was also hard for me to get attached to them when I felt they were doomed.

Watching the two of them drive cross-country became an exercise in dread. I clicked through the pages, wondering what kind of bad outcome I was going to get. Zoe, fifteen and pregnant? Zoe, murdered by Will? Neither of those things happened and, in fact, some of Zoe's actions at the end did surprise me. But I think if I had seen any small glimmer of hope, I would have found the book far more poignant.

If you love gritty contemporaries, you should definitely try Nobody But Us. If you like your stories to have some sense of happily ever after, this won't be the book for you.


  1. Even though I had read the comparison to Bonnie & Clyde, I still somehow felt they were going to make it until I saw their many very bad decisions start stacking up and I wondered if it would go down exactly like B&C. Not quite but almost. I'm really interested to see what else Halbrook will write because I liked her style here.

  2. I'm currently reading this book and I believe it's going to be v ery strong and emotional book. It's not sugar-coated and so realistic. Great review, Jen! : )

  3. When I first finished this I didn't like it, but when I thought about it for a few days I realized it wasn't so bad. I mean I was able to finish it. It ultimately got 3 hearts from me. Great review hon!

  4. Interesting, sounds deep. I suppose being flooded with ain't would grate my nerves after a while as well hehe. I read mixed reviews on this one, I guess I'd have to be in a type of mood, but it's still on the list to read :)

  5. The ending was sad right? I wanted a happy ending but with the way the story is moving so fast, I just knew. Nice review.

  6. I like how objectively you reviewed this. A lot of reviews only pointed out how flawed the characters were, and the bad choices they made.

    Thanks for the very helpful review!

  7. I love gritty contemporaries, but like you, I really prefer them with a glimmer of hope. Otherwise, I'm not sure what the point is. A cautionary tale? That's not why I read.

  8. I'm not sure I'd like this one. It just sounds too gritty for me at the moment!

  9. ooo. That's tough. I really need a HEA.

  10. Oh, I do love my happily-ever-afters. I don't mind a dark book once in a while, but I wasn't sure about this book to begin with. It doesn't sound like something I normally read. I think I will leave this book. It's a good thing that the characters are flawed, but they sound a bit too unlikable for me. Great review Jen :)


  11. From your review I don't think this one is for me. I do appreciate the flawed characters and the author not romanticizing those flaws (as some books tend to do). But without any hope for a happy ending, I just don't think I'll enjoy this one in the end.

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  12. NOBODY BUT US sounds like the kind of read that will be a perfect counter to some of the books around.


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