One night, while drunk and high and making out with the town loser down by the train bridge Meg and her friends manage to get themselves arrested. As punishment, they’re sentenced to spend a week with the police, ambulance and fire services observing crime and safety and come up with some kind of proposal that the town officials can not only use, but also shows that they’ve learned their lesson. Meg gets stuck riding in Officer After’s police car and Meg couldn’t think of anything worse. Officer After is a staunch, stuck up, law-abiding citizen and as far as Meg is concerned, the exact opposite of her.
But Meg isn’t the only tortured soul in town and little does she know that Officer After is harbouring some of his own dark secrets, too. Having Meg in his car seems to break down Officer After’s hard exterior, little by little.
There’s something about After that gets under Meg’s skin. Maybe it’s his blindingly good looks. Maybe it’s just because she doesn’t understand him. But her lack of understanding makes her want to understand. More than anything.
In a move so out of character that it takes her completely by surprise, Meg finds herself falling for Officer After and that can only lead to bad, bad things. Meg is in her final year of high school. She has big plans for herself. Plans that involve leaving the dead end town where she lives. How can she leave if she’s got something like a boyfriend holding her back? But Meg isn’t the relationship type, so what does she even care?
See her predicament?
When I first started reading this novel, I was worried that it was just going to be another story about a good, wholesome boy taming a wild, out-of-control girl. Boy-oh-boy, was I wrong. Both After and Meg are deeply rich characters with many layers that need to be peeled back before the reader is exposed to the real Meg, the real John After. While I do think that Meg is somewhat “tamed” by the end of the novel, I would argue that After is more the trigger than the reason. Meg doesn’t want to be so empty, so void, and John just shows her that she feels this way.
Going Too Far is unapologetic and refuses to pass judgment, instead transferring that responsibility onto the reader. And there are lots of opportunities to judge but I found myself completely unwilling to do so. Echols doesn’t sugar coat her prose or her dialogue and captures the do or die essence of adolescence perfectly. My only criticism is that we didn’t get enough of After and Meg together. Why do writers do this to us? They always leave the union – the bit we’re all waiting for – right till the last couple of pages. Here’s hoping she’s planning a sequel!