When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.
But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.
By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.
Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
Michelle: Hottie Hot HOT!! That’s what this book was. Oh.Em.Gee there was so so much for me to love here. Angsty drama, good smokin’ romance and a bad boy with a heart of gold. You know how I adore me a boy who’s misunderstood! Echols has been called the Nora Roberts of YA Romance and boy does Such a Rush prove that point and then some.
Andi: OH.EM.GEE is right!!!! Holy hotness batman! What a great, great, did I mention GREAT, story! This was by far and away my favorite Echols book to date. I will admit that I had a little trouble in the beginning with all the flying talk, but once the boys were completely introduced to the story and the spiciness abound, I was in a free fall of love! Those Hall boys are two for the record book for book boyfriend! YUM-MY!
M: Yea, the very first chapters were a bit slower but I’ve found most of her books take a few to ramp up. But when they do, OHHHH boy you best be ready for the love. I have to agree with you on the favorite status. This one might be right up there for me too. It’s definitely a tie between Such a Rush and Love Story.
What I truly adore about this book (and pretty much all of Echols work) is that she creates such awesome characters. I mean, I love absolutely all of them. None more than Grayson (hubba hubba!) but even the most annoying jerk-offs *cough* Mark *cough* had some sort of value. He was detestable but not entirely despicable when it came down to it.
Leah was amazing. Her low impression of her worth was in such contrast to her relatively high self-esteem. She knew who she was and accepted it. Sure, she wanted to change her life for the better but he didn’t wallow in her less than ideal circumstances. She just worked her ass off to get closer to what she wanted. Mad props to her.
A: Exactly! Echols knows how to write her characters in a way that they are so deep and complicated but it comes off flawlessly. Like Molly for instance. Here she was a side character, not really in the main action, but just as important as Leah and Grayson. She is what made Leah have heart a lot of the time and to show emotion which she worked so hard to hide. And yet Molly was jealous of everything Leah was because Leah just put it out there. It all worked and you don’t even think about it when reading it and that is a sign of talent.
And I loved Leah’s relationship with Mr. Hall too. It was somewhat more important than her relationship with the boys because he gave her a feeling of self worth. He basically gave her a reason to not give up on herself and become her mother (ARGH don’t even get me started on her). Like you said Leah’s self worth was so low and yet she worked to become more no matter what.
Now can we talk about Grayson?! **PLEASE**!!!! I waited two whole paragraphs to ask!
M: Grayson was fantabulissimo! As we’ve already established I love me a “bad boy” with a heart of gold and Mr. Hall fit right into that mold. He was deeply flawed but his cocky demeanor allowed him to play it off. He just needed that one person to cut through the bull and see him for who he was to make it all crumble. Oh how I love the crumble!!
Not only that but the family relationships he had to navigate added a whole other level of complexity. He never really had that one person who got him, the one person who he could rely on totally until he met Leah. He wanted to be more than the family disappointment and he was so dedicated to keeping all of them together after his Jack and his dad were gone. He was just an all around stand up guy.
A: He really was completely amazing. Here was this “screw-up”, trying to hold everything together after an unthinkable tragedy that fell on his family. All of a sudden he had to be the one with the head on his shoulders or he may lose something else he cared dearly for. And his relationship with Leah was so amazingly awkward and slightly twisted, but it worked completely for the two of them. They had this amazing push/pull thing going on. He would make all these generalizations about her and then lean on her when he needed someone to just be there for him. Watching their story unfold was truly enjoyable. It added something to Grayson. Instead of him being a, for lack of a better term, dick, through Leah you got to really get to know him and the love he really had for his family.
M: Leah was such a fantastic character too. All she wanted was to have important connections in her life. But she got stuck with a selfish mother, no father and judgmental kids at school. The one true connection she finally had was with flying and as a result with Mr. Hall. He understood her in a way that a father would understand his child. I do truly think Mr. Hall considered her one of his own. It was a sweet relationship that sparked a deeper love between she and Grayson. I wish we would have gotten to know Mr. Hall a little better because I can totally see he and Grayson being very similar.
A: Leah really was a great character. She was developed so well you couldn’t help but love her. She was focused on two things and two things alone…survival and flying. And because of both those things she had a hard shell around her. She knew what people thought about her, what they said behind her back and in some cases, to her face, and she took it. But because of that she was also hard to thaw and Grayson certainly didn’t make it easy with his snark and rudeness. But underneath the toughness you really could see she was just a kid that wanted to be taken care of and loved and thank goodness for Mr. Hall. He really was the one and only parental like unit she had and he did love her like family. I completely agree there. And like you I too wish we had more of him. He was so integral and yet not around for long enough.
But I guess that was par for course with Leah. I mean her mother wasn’t really around either. What did you think of her? I wanted to run her over with the trailer by the end.
M: I do think the way the mother was written was pretty convenient. Leah needed to be parentless and somewhat downtrodden in order to open up the rest of the story. Her mother was definitely cliche in that woman who needs to have a man take care of her and a crappy man at that. Add to that the abandonment of her child to keep those types of relationships with men alive and you have a pretty open opportunity for Leah’s story to move in the direction it did. The mother was loathsome to be sure but I did like that their relationship allowed for Leah to be independent and ultimately shrug her mother off in the end.
A: Oh, her mother was definitely plot driven. She had to be that way to make Leah so independent, but it still made me want to run her over with the trailer no matter.
What I really liked most about the whole story in general was the message. Because really it doesn’t matter where you come from or what kind of means you have available to you. If you want to make something of yourself you can. You just have to work for it. Leah had next to nothing. No money, no parental support, no core group of family/friends and yet she went after what she wanted and she did it the right way. She was driven and independent and smart and that is all it takes to make a dream come true.