Review: One Life by A.J. Pine (Only You #2)


Note: This ARC was provided by Penguin Group - Berkley, NAL/Signet Romance, DAW via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Zoe Adler is used to being the one who holds it together in her family, but the death of her younger brother Wyatt becomes the turning point that has her slowly spiraling downwards. She masks the guilt weighing heavily upon her heart and the pain bubbling right beneath the facade by controlling what she can: her appearance. She's got a smile ready to be whipped out to let people know she's fine and she changes her her hair color whenever something significant affects her life. With Wyatt's death, she wants visible reminders of the brother she lost and does it by adding ink to her skin. She needs the pain the needle creates and seeps into her pores to cover up everything else she's been desperately trying not to feel. Zach Nolan wants the real Zoe to come out of hiding, but if he gets to know her, he may leave her too.

One Life is the second novel in author A.J. Pine's new adult (NA) romance series entitled Only You and is about an artist named Zoe who is burdened with emotions she's chosen to keep hidden from those around her and a musician named Zach who is at a crossroads of his own and is keeping his own share of secrets. Zoe and Zach's first meeting occurs in the first novel in the series, One Night, and they keep things between them very much in the friend zone. When they part ways, it's another six months before they see each other again and it's due to the untimely passing of Zoe's younger brother. It's this second meeting that sets both of them on very different paths--Zach to finding direction in his life and Zoe to losing parts of herself until she no longer becomes recognizable since this is how she deals with her loss and tragedies.

There's a lot of pretending that goes on in Zoe's life and it all stems from her not dealing with the hurdles life throws her way. There are deeper reasons to her dyeing the color of her hair than the usual aesthetics. She avoids confronting what's going on within her family after Wyatt's death. Even her decision to call Zach "Spock" no longer becomes a simple matter of not addressing him by the same name as her twin brother. It's like the nicknames that people give her--each one is a role that she gets to play because then she doesn't have to face the real Zoe, the one still in pain and faking it so that she can get through each day without having to feel or think. After all, that's how she avoids confronting her issues and she would rather be "Supergirl," "Blue," or  "Smurfette" than just be Zoe, the girl who may be too damaged for Zach to love.

Angst-ridden would probably be an apt description of Zoe, but hers is the kind of angst that isn't brought on by the usual things that young women her age need to get a handle on. There's nothing shallow about what she's going through, and as you read her story, you find yourself wishing she would share her burdens with someone. But then, that's not how Zoe operates, too used to the role of fixer and listener, allowing everyone else to unburden while she chooses to take their troubles on. This wasn't an overly long read, but it also wasn't a light one. Zoe's story of learning to allow others--her family, closest friends, and Zach--to see that she, too, has struggles but that she's trying to get through them in a healthy manner is inspiring. The Only You series has yet to disappoint and the five-starred One Life is one worthwhile read. ♥

Release Date: 20 October 2015

Date Read: 20 October 2015

Learn more about A.J. Pine here.

Purchase One Life on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.

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