Author: Jessica Park
Genre: NA, Romance
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.
Trigger Warning: Rape – No graphic scenes but it’s a topic that is discussed in the book.
Warning ahead of time; this review might end up turning into a giant gush fest, I loved this book that much. Honestly, I want to shout my love for it from the rooftops and get everyone to give it a read because it’s that good. 180 Seconds is a beautiful story that is as heartbreaking as it is swoon-worthy. Seriously, I went from not being able to stop smiling to crying within in a chapter at one point. Given that I’m a huge fan of Jessica Park’s Left Drowning I should have expected nothing less because this author knows how to make you feel all of the feels. This book, however, was next level and even better than Left Drowning. It ended up being exactly what I needed to get out of the reading funk that I found myself in post-ACOWAR.
“How did you know I would like Wonder Woman?”
“I figured you’d deflected a few bullets in your time and that you were probably tough as steel.”
180 Seconds is the story of Allison who grew up in foster care, bouncing from home to home, until she was adopted at sixteen. However, her time in foster care has caused her to have to her walls up high, unable to truly let anyone besides her best friend Steffi in. That is until one day she’s stopped by a girl on the street and inadvertently ends up participating in the filming of a social experiment where she has to stare into the eyes of a stranger, Esben Baylor, for 180 seconds. Said social experiment leaves Allison’s walls crumbling and her beginning to open up in a way she never expected.
I know what you guys are probably thinking, “That sounds like instalove in the making.” Trust me when I say that this book is anything but. It’s more of an instant connection that ultimately slow builds into one of the most beautiful, swoon-worthy romances I’ve ever read in the New Adult genre. Plus, there is a distinct lack of graphic sex scenes for those that want to read NA but don’t care for all of that.
“I know tons of people out there suck, I do. But mostly, Allison, people are good. They really are. And I am lucky enough to get to witness so much of that good.”
All of that aside, this book is actually about so much more than just the adorable romance. It’s very much about Allison’s journey, her learning to trust others, to let her walls down. She also struggles with anxiety, which was incredibly well written. I found that a lot of her thoughts are thoughts I’ve had before. I’ve honestly never come across a more relatable character. Through her journey we also get a powerful reminder that even though the world is full of terrible things it’s also full of so much good. I’ve used the world beautiful a lot already but I found her journey beautiful and inspiring.
Besides our main character, Allison, there are several other incredible characters developed within the pages of this book – Steffi, Esben, Kerry, and Simon.
“She is part sister, part best friend, part mother, and tonight, when we crawl into bed together, she lets me snuggle into the crook of her arm, as she has done so many nights before.”
Steffi and Allison became best friends after meeting in a foster home when they were younger. Steffi is the type of person who just embraces adventure and is so tough and fierce. Their friendship is incredible and supportive and honestly one of the best female friendships I’ve ever read. I wish there were more friendships like theirs in NA.
Esben… So, I need an Esben in my life guys. New book boyfriend? I think so! Esben is a social media star who uses his online influence to spread positivity and show the world all the good that is out there. He’s so kind and completely open to the world. It’s through one of his social experiments that he and Allison meet. I adored their growing relationship, it was beautiful and full of so much respect. It also never once turned into a ‘love cures all’ situation as Allison’s struggles didn’t vanish nor did he have complete credit in her opening up. It was always Allison pushing herself to let her walls down for herself. Also, there’s Kerry who is Esben’s sister. We don’t see as much of her as I wish we had, however, what we did see of her and the sibling relationship between her and Esben and the eventual friendship between her and Allison was something I loved so much.
“Every kid should have a teddy bear. You’re too old for this, and you were too old when we met, but… a father has to give his daughter a teddy bear, so better late than never.”
Then last but not least there’s Simon, Allison’s adoptive father, who was probably my favorite of them all. He cares for Allison so much, more so than she even realizes at first. I loved seeing their father/daughter relationship grow over the course of this novel. Honestly, one of the best father/daughter relationships I’ve ever seen in a book.
There were also three other minor secondary characters; Carmen, Danny, and Jason. I really wish the three of them had been included more in the story and more developed. Literally the only negative I have for this book.
“I will be brave. I will be brave. I will be brave. I will keep going.”
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that this book completely blew me away. I think I went in expecting just a cute romance and while I got the romance I also got a story of grief, a reminder about all the good that exists in the world, a story of family, and a story of a girl who teaches herself it’s okay to let others in. I’ll continue my overuse of the world beautiful because this book was beautiful. Officially one of my all-time favorites and I highly recommend it!
Have you read 180 Seconds? What did you think? If not is it on your TBR?