this book was beautifully written - it was, in fact, so beautifully written that the prose sometimes called my attention away from the story itself, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. personally, i like it when my stories are a bit more fast paced, as opposed to detailing every mundane detail about a character's life and cramming in as many filler scenes as possible to give the impression of character/relationship development. this book was no exception to that: i was mind-numbingly bored from roughly 30%-70% and then i was enthralled all over again.
julia buchanan stole my heart just as much as she stole charlie's, from basically the very first page of this book. i'm not sure what it was about her, but she was the shining jewel that drove me to keep on reading this book, because i had to know what happened to julia. the relationship between charlie and julia was a unique one, for sure: a straight girl in an unhealthily codependent relationship with a lesbian, whilst neither one of them has any sort of attraction to the other. there were moments where i wondered if julia had maybe fallen in love with charlie, but every time that suspicion was met with a resounding nope. their relationship transcended the usual, it was more than friendship but it was even more than romance, too. they were just bound together, inexplicably and irrevocably. it was a beautiful thing to read about.
from time to time, charlie got on my nerves (i've always hated the oh no this gift is too much i can't possibly take it oh my gosh i'm so poor and humble and you're so rich how could i ever accept your gifts it's too much for me oh my gosh did i mention that i'm poor and my dad drives a dumb truck and i can't take your presents because you have so much money and i don't oh my goshhhhhhh trope) but overall, i was fond of her. i didn't care too much for sebastian one way or the other, to be honest, but i did love the way that their romance was written. the tension was palpable, the fact that it was doomed to fail was palpable. i loved it.
this book was worth the time it took me to read it, even though i spent at least 40% of it threatening to skim it or abandon it. once i got past that 40%, i forgot why i ever wanted to put it down in the first place.
the "secret" wasn't very shocking for me at all though, honestly, and i'm not entirely sure that i found it to be realistic but i'm also not sure if i read contemporary romances expecting realism in the first place? so i don't know what to make of that. also, maybe i'm the stupid one here, but i didn't really find the great gatsby retelling to be evident in this book. i caught a reference here and there, including some blatant mentions of the book but overall, i thought this was actually a unique tale. i mean, okay, maybe there were some influences from the great gatsby and other books in that vein, but i'm not sure i would call this a retelling, at least not going by what i personally think of when i hear that word.