When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything -- so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.
But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect...and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.
OPINION: 4 STARS
The Short Version:
Luring yet frustrating, Nothing Like Her is a heartbreaking tale of mistakes and pain. With a main character who likable despite her flaws, and a basic yet compelling story, this one has a an addictive quality to it. Strong in voice and heavily emotional, Nothing Like Her is a solid read.
The Extended Version:
Holly is the kind of girl who wouldn’t usually be ‘the other girl’ in a relationship, and the guilt she battles with shows this strongly. While her reasons for even going with it aren’t completely explained, the basic need for just needing some kind of positive affection does come through loud and clear. Trying to be a pillar for her father, and missing her mother greatly, Holly is very obviously in a different state of mind during the book than her usual self. Hiding her biggest secret from her best friend, and trying her hardest to figure everything out on her own, Holly’s characterization is touching and well done. While her reasons for some things aren’t always explained, and she makes a few frustrating decisions, there is still a heaviness to her story that will pull readers in.
Nils, her best friend, is a bit of a mess in his own right, flitting between girls and letting a slight barrier stay between himself and Holly. Though he tries to be there, he doesn’t push too hard when she pushes him away or insists she can’t talk about something that is so clearly bothering her. While there is a certain level of respect between the two, this reader felt not only as if he gave up too easily at times, but also lets some things get to him too much. Over reactive to some things, he leaves a bit of a bad taste in readers’ mouths, despite being an intriguing and amusing character for much of the book.
Paul, a manipulative, selfish jerk, is a character who is hard to like, even from the start. Clearly giving off signs that he’s only with Holly to get laid, readers will see right through him. While Holly’s reasons for even going with him the first night aren’t clear, and the reasons he is so interested are remain cloaked as well, there is a thrill that comes with his pursuit of her all the same. Still, there are few redeeming qualities about Paul, and Strasnick writes the story in such a way that readers will be rooting for Saskia right alongside Holly.
Rounding out the cast is Jeff, Holly’s dad, who has a gentleness to him that will melt readers, and Saskia, Paul’s long term girlfriend and Holly’s new friend. Saskia is a very well done character, open and caring, yet far from a doormat. The reasons Holly would want her friendship over anything Paul could over offer are clear, as are the reasons she doesn’t just come clean on her own, and both go far to build the characters of Holly and Saskia.
While there are several cliché elements to this plot, Strasnick weaves them together in a good way. Steadily paced, and with some heavy and emotional scenes, this one is as much a story of figuring things out and making mistakes as it is navigating the love and lust battlefields. With a main character who goes through tremendous growth, both directly related to what she’s doing with Paul and other factors, and a shifting and constant reaction and play out because of it, this one doesn’t shy back from the full scope of cheating. Though there were a few parts that didn’t seem quite fleshed enough, and the ending was a bit of a letdown, there is still an underlying strength that carries this story.
The writing is well done, giving strong voice to Holly and keeping readers engaged throughout. Very internal, yet without feeling like readers are constantly in Holly’s head, the full emotional scale is splashed across the pages. With shifting views of different people, readers will feel as though they are right there with Holly, fighting the battles with her.
Though lacking in a few areas, Nothing Like You is an emotional and gripping read. Holly’s struggle is a real and painful one, putting her in situations that don’t have an easy answer to them. Despite her flaws, she is an easy character to like and root for, and the bulk of the cast is well rounded and developed. Well written, and holding steady in pacing and plot, Nothing Like You is a quick but affecting read.
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date for Paperback: August 3, 2010