180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Title: 180 Seconds

Author: Jessica park

Date of Publication: April 24, 2017

 

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Synopsis

 

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds . . .

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

 

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Meagan’s 6 Star Review

You know how people sometimes get tattoos of phrases from their favorite books? Well I want to get the entire text of 180 Seconds on my skin. 180 Seconds is the kind of book that after you read it, you realize how lackluster every other supposed five-star book you’ve ever read has been. You think you’ve read ugly cry books? This book had me sobbing for pages, my body heaving I was crying so hard. Jessica Park weaves magic in between the pages of everything she writes, but this book, this book made my heart bleed.

One hundred and sixty seconds. We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.

The catalyst for the story is similar to a video you may have seen floating around social media that featured performance artist Marina Abramovic who sat at a table one minute at a time in complete silence with total strangers. The performance takes an emotional turn when the lover that she had not seen for over 20 years shows up across from her. In Park’s story, Allison is a jaded foster kid who was adopted late in life. The story starts at the beginning of her third year of college where she continues to excel at keeping everyone at a distance. Until she accidentally stumbles upon a social experiment. Esben is well known on campus and on social media as someone who finds the good in people. His friendly, open demeanor is a complete contrast to Allison’s closed off nature. Walking back to campus Allison unexpectedly finds herself taking part in one of Esben’s experiments – the two sit across from each other in total silence while maintaining eye contact for 180 seconds. Reading this description it may be hard to believe those 180 seconds would have such a profound effect on Allison and Esben, but Park’s description of how the pair reacts to each moment will make you feel like you’re the one sitting in the chair. After the experiment, Allison and Esben try to figure out what the experience meant to one another. It sounds simple, but their journey is a beautiful push and pull of letting yourself become open to the idea of love as well as the constant struggle to find the good in people.

“Just say that you love me. Please. Because I am so goddamn in love with you that I can hardly breathe when we’re apart.”

I loved this book for so many reasons, but one of the emotional triggers for me was the ache Allison had to be loved. As someone who was adopted when she was “sixteen and a half” Allison struggles to let anyone in, including her father, Simon. The only true friend she has is Steffi, a fellow foster kid who Allison considers a sister. Besides these two people, Allison has convinced herself that she is fine without anyone else in her life and that she enjoys being alone instead of being bothered by stereotypical college idiots. As I was reading I could totally relate to Allison. I’m an introvert and I’d much rather stay at home than be invited to a party, or read a book instead of a girls night. Right? As a military spouse, I move around so much that it’s hard to make friends, but that doesn’t bother me. At least I tell myself that it doesn’t. As I continued on reading there is a pivotal moment in the book when Allison is faced with the decision to open herself up to making new friendships or continue isolating herself. She sits in her bed and weeps at what she has become and truthfully recognizes she doesn’t want to be alone. The whole scene is maybe a page and a half, but I felt it to my core. How easy is it for us to lie or have a sarcastic comment when we see other people having fun instead of being honest and acknowledging we crave those same connections. Yes, there are times when I would truly rather sit in my pajamas on the couch and binge watch The 100 on Netflix rather than go to a bar. But there have also been many times when I’ve been jealous of people who seem to make friendships so easily while I sit in a restaurant alone. It’s a testament to the author’s writing that she can not only make you connect so deeply with the characters but that her words make you reflect on your own life.

I cannot stop the tears. “I don’t want to live like this,” I say out loud over and over through my sobbing. I cry for who I have been, who I am, and who I could be.

There are so many things I loved about this book. I could honestly pick it apart and analyze it for days. There wasn’t one moment I didn’t fall in love with the characters or the writing. 180 Seconds is one of the best books I have ever read, and its message has resonated deeply. There isn’t one person that wouldn’t benefit from reading this book. It’s perfect.

meagan

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About the Author 

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Jessica is the author of CLEAR, The Left Drowning Series (LEFT DROWNING and RESTLESS WATERS), the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (& the companion novella FLAT-OUT MATT), FLAT-OUT CELESTE, and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at jessicapark.me and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjessicapark and Twitter @JessicaPark24

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