Under the Lights by Abbi Glines
Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.
High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.
Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.
As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.
Under the Lights ripped me open and left me breathless!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
When 17-year old Willa Ames is released from a juvenile correctional facility and finds her bags packed on her mother's doorstep she calls the only person she has left, her grandmother "Nonna" - the woman who raised her for most of her life.
Nonna agrees to take Willa in as long as she stays away from boys, stays out of trouble, and keeps up with school. Nobody believes Willa about what happened that awful night and Willa cannot forgive herself. Returning to small town Lawton, Alabama means returning to the two friends she left behind, Gunner Lawton, the boy who lives in the big house, and Brady Higgens, the sweet boy she had a crush on six years ago.
Just like Willa, Brady and Gunner have changed a lot over the past six years. Brady is casually dating a girl he doesn't really like and Gunner has been playing the field and swearing off love. When Willa blows into town everything changes.
As the boys try to figure out their complicated feelings for their childhood friend, Willa struggles to put her dark past behind her. Gunner has always been Willa's friend, her confidante and when she left Lawton six years ago to live with her mother she was just beginning to have feelings for Brady; but Willa sees herself as too damaged to be deserving of either boy.
Will Willa ever be able to put the nightmares of the past behind her and allow herself to heal? What will happen when a scandalous family secret shakes up Gunner's life, will he confide in Willa once again? Will Willa allow either of the boys in?
Under the Lights is a beautifully written novel about friendship, love, and forgiving yourself. This book ripped me open emotionally and left me breathless. Willa and Gunner's struggles were realistic and the reader will be rooting for them throughout the book. Willa, Brady, and Gunner were characters that were easy to fall in love with. This book is easily one of my favorite Abbi Glines books and it reminded me a little of the Vincent Boys books, especially with the dynamic between Brady and Gunner and Gunner and his family. What I really liked about Under the Lights was that, like Abbi Glines's other books in other series, you can read Under the Lights as a standalone novel as well as within the series. I really wanted to read Until Friday Night, the first book in the Field Party series, but I haven't been able to find it in my local bookstores and I haven't gotten around to getting it off Amazon yet so I was afraid I'd be missing something when I started Under the Lights. Thankfully Willa, Gunner, and Brady's story is complete within this novel and I wasn't missing anything important from the first book. You can read this novel without missing a beat which is a major perk of reading books by this author.
Under the Lights is a must-read page-turner that will keep you gripped until the last page. The only thing I didn't completely love was the placement of Gunner's view of six years ago. It might have been more natural at the beginning of the book, but then maybe it would have been too telling, I'm not sure.
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Under the Lights is available today, Tuesday, August 23, 2016, from Simon Pulse! You can buy it on Amazon in eBook and Hardcover!