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180 Seconds


180 Seconds

Jessica Park, acclaimed author of FLAT-OUT LOVE and LEFT DROWNING, delivers another heart-warming novel with 180 SECONDS. After 15 years in foster care, Allison doesn’t expect much from her life, and doesn’t expect much from her junior year in college, either. Ignoring the urgings of her adopted dad, Allison plans to spend her nights in her dorm room, avoiding her roommate, counting down the days until she can move to California with her best friend, Steffi. Everything changes when Allison is suddenly launched into a social experiment that alters her perspective on her seemingly dull life. She is forced to stare at internet sensation, Esben Baylor, for 180 seconds, without any verbal communication. After the three minutes are up, neither of them are prepared for the intimate connection they form in their time. Will Allison be willing to overcome her trust issues and take a risk with Esben, or will she continue to fade into the shadows of her life?

"180 SECONDS is witty and romantic, the perfect feel-good novel to make readers remember the goodness in humanity. The wonderful social experiments were a highlight of this book...."

180 SECONDS is witty and romantic, the perfect feel-good novel to make readers remember the goodness in humanity. The wonderful social experiments were a highlight of this book, as Esben often participated in schemes that allowed different people to feel good about themselves, or feel better. For example, one little girl was having a birthday party, but no one had responded that they were coming, so Esben inspired hundreds of people to attend the party, making her the happiest girl in the world. Many times the happiness these actions brought to the characters were so sweet it almost brought me to tears, and inspired me to be a better person.

Despite these feel good moments, this novel was a bit hard to get into at first. Esben and Allison’s scene together seemed overdramatized and unrealistic, although it was sweet. I had a hard time investing myself in these characters when their love happened almost instantaneously, without any basis but the emotions the appeared to communicate with their eyes. In addition, Esben appearance in Allison’s life seems to magically make her more open and trusting, which doesn’t align with the description of her struggles at the beginning of the book.

Although I had these issues at the beginning of the book, I was able to overcome them, and found myself really enjoying the book. Esben and Allison’s relationship, although still very insta-love, found more depth, and there were even conflicts between them. Initially, I believed Esben to be too perfect to be real, but the layers in his character were gradually revealed, making me love his character by the end of the book.

Several characters in this book were actually my favorite part throughout the story. Simon, Allison’s adopted father, nearly brought me to tears throughout the book. He’s kind, supportive and extremely entertaining, constantly bringing a bit of brightness to the book, and providing a strong parental figure, which I loved. In addition, Steffi, Allison’s best friend, was hilarious and fun, the perfect partner to Allison’s introverted nature. The two girls’ strong relationship from their years in foster care was inspiring, and I loved watching their interactions as the novel progressed.

I would recommend this book to teenagers who like realistic fiction --- mainly romance --- or anyone who wants to read a feel-good novel, with some heartbreaking scenes thrown in. I’m glad I continued to read 180 SECONDS, and can’t wait to see what else Jessica Parks has to offer.

Reviewed by Jessica K., Teen Board Member on May 3, 2017

180 Seconds
by Jessica Park