Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa
Series: Fight or Flight #1
Publish Date: March 12, 2013
Find it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
Keep your head down.
And look out for number one.
These are the rules Jay has lived by for the past two years. The rules of surviving life on the streets. But when Em comes bursting into his life, in all of her disastrous glory, the rules go right out the window.
Flee what’s been left behind.
And never look back.
Emerson’s plan was simple. Though, it was easier said than done. The city streets are dangerous and unforgiving to a new arrival. Especially, a seventeen-year-old girl who’s never known anything but life in the suburbs. Sometimes, however, what’s lurking behind those white picket fences can be more frightening than any dark alley.
Both of them made the same decision when life got overwhelming—to run from their demons. Brought together by fate or circumstance, Em and Jay find the kind of love neither of them ever expected. But, when those demons come back to haunt them and their love is on the line, which instincts will they choose to follow this time . . . Fight or Flight? -(from Goodreads)
Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa
My Thoughts: Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa is one of the best YA/NA Contemporary books I’ve read in ages and ages. And ages.
The first thing you need to know is this:
Emerson is leaving. She doesn’t care where she goes.
She just has to get out.
The book opens as Emerson is waiting up in the middle of the night, rocking away in her rocking chair. She grabs her heavy backpack and tiptoes out of her house, careful to avoid the third-to-last step in the stairwell. She knows that if she’s caught, there will be hell to pay – or worse. She has $52.83 in her pocket, which isn’t much, but she’ll just have to make that last. She can’t let HIM hear her leave. Her entire survival depends on slipping away unnoticed, without HIM finding out. She needs to be far, far away when he realizes she’s gone.
In thinking and planning ahead, Emerson decided to leave at dawn on a Saturday – at a time when there would be the least amount of cars out, to avoid prying eyes. She’ll ride trains all day, go as far as possible. Once she gets there, she’ll ditch her wallet, her pictures, her insurance cards, her Social Security card, everything everything everything that makes her Emerson James. She’ll be a different person. Forever. And finally, she’ll be away from HIM.
The second thing you need to know is this:
Jay spots Em at the train station.
Wide-eyed, she stands out among the crowd.
Em has arrived to the city. She’s done the things she said she would do. Now what? She has no idea. And it shows.
Jay sees her with her wide eyes and her full backpack – like someone just begging for trouble in the city. Just like someone without a clue. Like someone begging to be mugged, beaten, hurt in some way. She ought to just stand up and announce to the whole place HEY I’M HERE AND I’M NEW IN TOWN – COME TAKE MY STUFF AND EAT ME ALIVE! Jay decides to follow her because he’s already noticed that someone else is following her too, and he knows this guy – he’s nothing but trouble. Jay feels protective over this girl for some reasons, which he really can’t afford. Out here, it’s every man for himself…but the look on this girl’s face is something that he just can’t walk away from. The fear, the sadness, the hollow, empty desperation behind her eyes…
Em stops for a second to look at a map and sits her backpack down. Immediately, the other guy that is following her grabs it. What does she do? She takes off after the guy to get her stuff back! WHOA NOW. Jay stops her, tells her that the guy that swiped her bag will likely kill her for whatever is in there – it’s best to just let it go. Jay is hoping that what he has just said will scare her enough that she’ll go back home BUT NOPE! He doesn’t know what she’s running from, though. Jay doesn’t know about HIM.
The third thing you need to know is this:
Against his better judgment, Jay takes Em to his squat.
Nobody shares their squat, but Jay takes Em back to his place. (That’s a really big, big deal.) Em is a little afraid but she has no better option and Jay seems nice enough, so she goes. Jay knows that bringing this girl with him means he has another person to look after, another person to slow him down every day, another person to attract attention, another mouth to feed. But he does it anyway. Every day, Jay wears himself out looking for day-jobs to try and earn enough money to buy food for he and Em for that day, and then he does it again the next day. And the next day. And the next day. He makes Em promise to stay inside – don’t leave the house. She doesn’t yet know how to survive on the streets and with her looks and her small size, she’d likely be taken or taken advantage of right away. It doesn’t take long for Jay to work himself sick. Literally, sick. And then there is just one thing after another that threatens to knock these two down. But they work together and they fight hard to survive.
Good gracious, this book. When I started Fight or Flight by Jamie Canosa, I have to admit it was because the summary sounded pretty good and the cover looked amazing. I had NO IDEA how much depth the story contained, how incredible it was, and how invested I would become in the lives of Em and Jay.
In the beginning, I knew right away that Emerson was leaving; I could feel her desperation to not just leave, but to flee her circumstances – so I knew that she didn’t care where she ended up and how awful her situation ended up being as long as she was away from HIM. It takes a while for Emerson (aka Em) to open up to Jay and to the reader about why she is so desperate to get away, but by the time she did, she had already won me over and I WAS TOTALLY ON HER SIDE. There is no way you can read this book and doubt this girl. For Em to be willing to live on the streets, to go without food, to be without blankets in the Northeastern US in the wintertime, to go without medications after being hit by a car, to to without bathing, without anything – something suspect had to be going on, ya know? It took Em a while to trust Jay, and I felt so thankful when she finally did.
Jay was acting on instinct and his gut when he followed Em in the train station – and thankfully so. When he acted against his better judgment to bring her to his squat, it was awfully good of him to be so giving and kind. When he got up after little to no sleep to stand in line and hope hope hope for work…then to actually work hard all day for just enough money for a little bit of food…then to share it with her while starving himself – oh, what kindness. When Jay was protecting Em from other people that had less-than-honorable intentions for her, I respected him so much because he put himself in harm’s way over and over for this girl he barely even knew. Jay’s character did nothing but make me like him the more and more I read him. There were times when he had to act out of desperation for their situation, but I never ever faulted him – I can’t even begin to put myself in the situation of these two.
I never felt like Em or Jay annoyed me, and that was something I was wondering about as I read. Sometimes when you read these books that are so issues-heavy (particularly with a female character that has an issue) it’s easy to feel manipulated or annoyed by her OR to feel like she is overly whiny. I never felt this way with Em – or with Jay. They accepted their circumstances – sure, they wished for better – but they accepted how things were and they worked together to make the best of what they had. They even found time to laugh a little when they could.
Another thing that I appreciated so much with this book was that there was no overlying romantic tone to the story. Em and Jay were far too busy trying to survive the streets and trying to find food and stay alive – they didn’t have time to have a romantic relationship or to have swoony, steamy scenes. Yes, they did lie closely beside each other a couple of times to use each other for body warmth, which is realistic. Yes, they did become friendly companions and establish trust and a rapport with one another, which is realistic. But a romance? Not really – nothing to speak of until the the story is established, when it was appropriate. And even then, it begins as a love that is different than we normally read about because this relationship begins in a way that is different than those that we normally read about.
I just loved Fight or Flight – I finished the story and felt like I had found a real jewel that I could read again and again. There were a few characters in the story along with Em and Jay that I liked quite a bit, and I’m excited that Author Jamie Canosa is writing a story that will feature one of them. I KNOW that I will not look at this circumstance – young people living on the streets – in the same way again, ever. I know that I am still thinking about this story and I finished it quite a while ago. Things like a bed, blankets, a shower, warm food, toothpaste – chose comforts of life – these things randomly make me think of Em and Jay and how hard they had to fight just to not let life get them down.
For those that are afraid that this story might be too much of a drag – it really isn’t. It’s a fantastic survival story and it ends on a positive note. I recommend Fight or Flight to readers who enjoy YA/NA contemporary stories with issues and a hint of romance, great characters, and survival stories. I am anxiously waiting for Sink or Swim, the spin-off that I mentioned above, and I am anxiously awaiting for the sequel to this story, which looks like it will be a continuation of the story of Em and Jay. SO MUCH MORE to come from Author Jamie Canosa and you guys, I am so, so excited.
Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Ravena, NY with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit.
Heart and Soul #4
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Author Jamie Canosa
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FIGHT OR FLIGHT
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Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.
You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.
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This sounds like an awesome read! The premise is definitely unique from anything else I've read, and I love how you point out that the survival aspect is the main thing here. I am completely sold. Excellent review, Asheley! I'll be looking for this one soon. 🙂
This sounds like a really interesting read! Great review!
Okay, see, THIS is the type of contemporary YA that I love. I like the hard-hitting stuff that actually grapples with human emotion and makes you feel. I'm sold based on that alone – your fantastic review just puts me over the edge. This sounds like something that is totally up my alley. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Asheley! 🙂