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180 Seconds Paperback – April 25, 2017
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About the Author
Jessica Park is the bestselling author of more than fifteen novels, including Flat-Out Love and Left Drowning. She grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending four years in the frigid north, including suffering through one memorable Halloween blizzard, she decided to set out for warmer climes. She now lives in the relatively balmy state of New Hampshire with her husband, son, two dogs, and a cat. She admits to spending an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations.
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"One hundred and sixty seconds. We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute h*ll 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 god**mn 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.
I know… I’m in the minority here.
This read childish to me. Very lackluster. This is an easy book to read and if you’re looking for something simple and light, this might work for you. I, however, am not looking for something like this. I like books that reel me in with powerful emotions, intense situations, and realistic reactions.
This was not that.
With what I read, the story line seemed to have a great concept. I was intrigued before I bought it. Now that I have it, I just feel let down. There was potential though. Maybe Colleen Hoover should have done this. I feel the narration wouldn’t have been so “woe-is-me” and the characters would have been more believable – they were supposed to be junior year college students for Pete’s sake.
I could not connect with Allison at all. I found her to be a extraordinarily weak leading character. She seems strong and determined one second with a glare that could kill, then the next she’s a broken thing trying to keep people away because she’s afraid of people leaving, then the next she drunk to tell him he’s a meany.
The threads that made up this character did not blend well for me. She was my biggest problem. She wallows in self pity and anxiety, and it was so hard to not get frustrated with her. And since the book is about her, well, here we are.
Situations in this book felt overly dramatic, but not detailed for the drama. It felt like the author couldn’t explain these situations. She not once made me feel a damn thing for them. I want emotions spilling off the page, and it seemed that all this author could give me were cheesy lines that no one says in real life. NO ONE.
I’m not going to waste my time on a book I don’t like, hence the DNF. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
I thought I was going to love this, and I was so excited to read it. I was so disappointed. This deals with Allison who was previously in foster care. That is the only thing really about her past. The story lets you know she was in foster care and had a hard time with being adopted when she was 16. You do get to see a little about her and her adoptive father, but it was just not the story I was thinking this was going to be out.
I just did not really like this. The characters seemed much younger than Juniors in College. I honestly wanted to to DNF this so many times. I ended up putting on the audiobook just to get through it. If I did not own it, I would have put it down.
I liked the social media aspects, as it was pretty true to today with the good and the bad it can do. However; I feel the author threw everything she could into this story and I just felt exactly that…that it was thrown in. I did not think parts made sense to why it would happen this story. Was it emotional? Yes! All were serious issues that I usually love reading about, but it was just not delivered in a way that I thought worked all together. I wish it would have stuck to the story around the romance, the relationship with Allison and her father, and the relationship between Allison and Steffi. I feel like this was several different stories in one and it would have been more powerful if it focused on one.