Anyone Else, a poignant and authentic contemporary YA novel and companion to Halfway Perfect.
together. But while her sweet demeanor makes her the perfect confidant, her wholesome look isn’t landing her the high-paying modeling jobs, which are what Finley needs if she is going to reopen her mother’s dance studio.
“What are you so afraid of?” Summer asks.
I take a sip of the beer Dima brought me a few minutes ago. “Oh, I don’t know, addiction, overdose, puking on some innocent victim’s shoes, random drug testing by the agency…”
Summer laughs. “Drug testing on models? Yeah, that’ll be the day.”
Okay, so maybe I just don’t want to do it. Even if I should be in my so-called experimental phase.
I wouldn’t exactly label myself a rule follower, but I guess I’m just cautious. I haven’t always been this way. Not that I’ve done drugs, but before high school, I was all about ballet. Let’s just say I had a rep for being the sassy troublemaker. My mom being my ballet teacher may have had something to do with my behavior. My fingers immediately move to the cross dangling from my neck—I’ve only removed it a couple times over the last four years. Somehow, it’s always warmer than my hands.
I debate texting my dad to ask him if he’s done coke or molly. He’d probably tell me. But I wouldn’t want to freak him out. Seems like a conversation better reserved for a weekend visit instead of late on a Friday night when I could be too far gone to help, for all he knows.
I glance around the room and finally spot someone I know: my friend Alex and his girlfriend Eve. Alex and I did a big Calvin Klein shoot last year, and Eve was the photographer’s assistant. Actually, Eve used to be a model too, another preteen/teen phenom like Elana, who headlined that CK shoot along with Alex. My part had been fairly small, and still, that was my biggest job ever.
“Have you met Alex?”
Summer shrugs, grabs two more shots of vodka, and hands me one. “Like I would remember.”
I down the shot quickly and prepare to talk to Alex and Eve. Maybe they’ve done drugs and can advise me. But my buzzing phone distracts me. I pull it out of my purse and glance at the new text.
JASON: Yeah, it’s so weird to be home again. But I missed it.
My stomach flip-flops. He replied to my text. Hours later, but still…this could mean—
“Oh lord, you’re pathetic.” Summer is leaned toward me, reading over my shoulder. “That’s probably enough for you to live off of for another six months or so, right?”
I glare at her and shove the phone back into my purse.
“No comeback? Wonder why…” She pretends to be in deep thought. “He said he missed it. Not you. Cut the fucking cord already. It’s not healthy.”
If only it were that easy. When you’re in a relationship with someone for four years, you get so comfortable with that person. It’s daunting to start all over again.
I make my way across the room to see Alex and Eve, who are leaning against the back of the couch, more absorbed in each other than anything else.
“I heard Elana’s back from France?” Alex asks me, keeping his voice low.
“Yep, her and her mom. I think her mom is driving her crazy, but that’s to be expected. French Mama is driving me crazy too.”
They both laugh at the mention of French Mama, but I can’t take credit for that title. Summer made it up.
“I can’t believe her parents let her come back to New York,” Eve says.
Alex smiles at her. “You’re just upset that they’re here and not in France where we can hit them up for lodging.”
My gaze travels back and forth between the two of them. “You guys are going to France? Are you going for Fashion Week?”
Eve shakes her head. “Nope. I did the Prada shoot, and I’m done for good. Got tuition for next year covered.”
Even though Eve had supposedly quit modeling a few years ago, she pulled a one-last-job stunt last spring to cover her tuition at Columbia. She’s a photography student with a lot of experience under her belt.
“We’re doing the cheap travel, backpacking in Europe but without actual backpacks thing,” Alex explains.
Across the room, another beer pong player is being requested. This could possibly be the most adventurous thing I’m willing to do here. I turn to Alex and Eve again. “Well, good luck in Europe. I’m gonna go play beer pong.”
“Hey.” I grab Dima’s shirt sleeve. “You need another player?”
He looks me over, deliberating. “Sure. Be the new guy’s partner.”
“The new guy?” I glance around. What does that even mean? New to the party, like he just walked in? I’ve been here fifteen minutes.
“He’s new to the agency,” Dima says. “First casting, and he books some big job.”
“So we hate him then, right?” I joke. I turn around to head toward the game table and run right into a guy about my age with wild, dark curly hair and designer jeans.
“This guy,” Dima says to me and then turns to the new guy. “Got you a partner. Finley. She lives in the agency apartment downstairs.”
They exchange a look that says I’ve been mentioned before. I’m not liking that too much, but usually, I don’t come to these parties. Instead, I bang on the door at two in the morning to tell them to
stop thumping around like elephants. Maybe I got a bad rep.
While we wait for Dima to find a partner, I snatch two beers from a nearby cooler and offer one up to New Guy. “So, Dima said you’re new, but he didn’t say where you’re from.”
“The Midwest.” Okay. Someone doesn’t want to get personal. “Like Wisconsin or like Chicago?”
“Chicago…well, not in Chicago, but around it, you know?” he says.
“Right.” I pop open my can and take a drink. “What’s your name? I’m sorry, I don’t think Dima said…”
“Eddie.” He lifts his gaze again. “Eddie Wells. And you’re Finley Belton, the girl who lives downstairs.”
Summer breezes past me but stops when she spots me holding the beer pong ball. “Beer pong? Oh, you wild animal…grrrr.” She holds up her tiger paws and growls at me.
I give her the finger and then turn back to Eddie. “I’m one of the girls who live downstairs.”
“One is too bitchy, one is too underage, and one is nice,” he recites, most likely quoting Dima.
This is exactly what I’m trying to escape tonight. “Dima called me the baby bear?” I’m secretly hoping he catches my reference to Goldilocks.
“No,” Eddie says. “He called you Finley Belton, but I added the nice part, because you brought me a beer. And it is just right, not to mention you’re talking to me instead of staring and whispering to other people about me.”
Points for his fairy tale knowledge, and I’m sure the whispering is the result of whatever big job he’s landed. Too many models at this party.
Eve tries to be Dima’s partner, but he refuses and tells Alex to play with him. Eve opens her mouth to protest, but Dima holds up a hand. “Don’t even. I know your type. You’ll engineer some fancy trick shots. No Ivy League players showing me up. I got a rep to protect.”
“Fine,” Eve snaps. “I’ll just stand here and look pretty. And I’m definitely rooting for Fin and…” She gestures toward the new guy.
“Eddie,” I fill in for her. “Eddie from Chicago.”
“Eddie from Chicago,” Eve repeats. “Good luck.”
Summer returns and stands beside Eve, both leaning against the back of the love seat.
“Fin makes a great partner,” Summer says to Eddie. “She knits. Lots of finger dexterity.”
I shoot her a glare and will my face not to heat up. So not cool.
Fun, flirty, endearing and touching. Not what I was expecting but I completely enjoyed this story about self-discovery and breaking the mold.
Eddie picks up a lock of my hair. Slowly, he slides it between his fingers. “You’re not my type either. Too pretty. Too nice. Too smart. Too perfect. I’d hate to go after someone I could actually fall for…”
Finley has a goal no one knows about. To achieve it she needs big bucks and therefore better contracts which usually go to edgier, rebellious models and not the selfless, goody goody ones like her. Trying to get out of her comfort zone she decides to have a fling with a fun, yummylicious stranger. As it turns out though, he’s the newest model at her agency who’ll be living in her same building. Can she resist the attraction she feels toward Eddie? After she finds out he’s keeping secrets of his own, will she still feel the same way about him?
Eddie Wells’ confident, carefree façade couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s taken a job no one knows about because he needs the money to refocus his life which he’s not exactly sure what direction will take. And just the tip of the iceberg of secrets he’s keeping. But in the meantime, he’d love nothing more than to spend time with the smart, beautiful, down to earth girl who makes his feel calm but only wants a one night stand. Can he convince Finley to at least give him a chance to enjoy the now? Will spending time with her make him open up and reveal all his troubles? When the time comes, will he be able to give her up?
My head clouds with a million thoughts – “Who are you Eddie Wells? What is your story? Why does it seem like you have so much to tell? And why is your mouth so easy to stare at?”
I was invited to read this title because I read and enjoyed Julie Cross and Mark Perini’s previous book Halfway Perfect and I’m incredibly thankful for the invite. I liked You Before Everyone Else immensely, which really doesn’t come as a surprise because I’ve read other books by Julie. I will say this though, given the blurb I was expecting a light, fun r about models. What I got was certainly fun, but also endearing characters whose stories pulled at my heart strings.
“Neither of my parents have ever cooked a meal for me. I have no memory of being hugged by them. Ever. They’ve never taken me to the zoo or the park…”
The characterization is fantastic. Both Eddie and Fin feel real and relateable. They’ve both had difficult pasts but neither are boggled down but them. They’re both trying to be better people despite their histories and striving to find their place in the world and in each other’s lives. Finley is totally a goody-two-shoes who tries to help her father, her brother’s, Eddie, everyone really. She’s selfless and ignoring what she’s really wanted to do all her life. I loved how, with Eddie’s help, she found her confidence and made herself a priority.
Eddie was totally adorable. He’s completely lost, a stray, as Finley’s roommate called him. But he’s incredibly sweet, strong and determined to be better than his father, his family. Just be better and try to do the right thing. My heart broke for the total lack of warmth and support he had but applauded his bravery and loved that he found his place in Finley’s life.
There is of course a good dose of delicious chemistry and great banter between Eddie and Fin, however this is a new adult book and their sexy times are mostly delectable make out sessions which fade to black. Something I liked because then the focus is on the actual relationship between them.
I loved the dynamic between them which was strong and sweet, tentative and yet intense. The way they accept and support each other is lovely. If they put what they truly want on a map, their paths barely cross because modeling to them is a means to an end. Yet they don’t try to change the other, but rather try to fit as best as possible their lives to one another. Which included Fin’s incredibly adorable twin brothers and amazing dad.
I absolutely have to give a shout out to Fin’s father, Sam. He’s loving and supportive, really cool and understanding. He wants what’s best for his daughter but isn’t imposing in any way. The completely opposite to Eddie’s family.
You Before Everyone Else hits all the right New Adult marks about barely being old enough to vote, not old enough to drink and still having tough adult choices to make and finding oneself. The pace was terrific, I desperately wanted to know Eddie’s secrets and then wanted to know how everything would unfold and was so glad that the ending was a very realistic and happy.
Even though this book isn’t marked as a series, I loved having Alex, Eve and Evana from “Halfway Perfect” back, playing pivotal roles in the story. You Before Everyone Else is a YA standalone book, told from both points of view with a happy ending.
those who have taken the steps in Breaking the Mold on society’s expectations,
like Finley, the heroine from YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE! We are looking for anyone who would like to
share their story and be entered to win a 2017 Erin Condren Life Planner!
free to share picture of your journey and use #breakingthemold at the end of
15th, 2016. No purchase
necessary to enter. If under 12 years
old, you must have approval by a guardian to enter.
bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest
series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex,
Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at
You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program
Director with the YMCA.She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the
young adult and new adult genres.Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a
committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach
vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card
holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.
a New York City based author debuting his first YA novel, Halfway Perfect.
Additionally, Mark is a featured author in the NA anthology, Fifty First Times.
fashion model when he was 18 years old, while simultaneously obtaining a
business degree from Seton Hall University. He has a passion for traveling the
world, and he’s made a blood pact with friends to see all seven ancient wonders
of the world before he’s thirty. Four down three to go.