REVIEW: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

A Young Adult/New Adult Romance

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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.



Emotionally evocative and thought-provoking, 180 Seconds is a moving story of a young woman coming into and accepting herself. Park managed to delve into the mindset of someone socially and emotionally walled off from the world due to years of foster care, and to slowly bring her out of her shell in the most beautiful and inspiring way. A way in which it lightens your heart and brings absolute joy to the reader.

The idea that 180 seconds could be life-altering initially felt too steep of a concept, but in the context of this novel, I was so very moved by how Allison was affected by the connection she managed to create in a short time with both her internal self and Esben. Park not only managed to show every moment of this incredible change, in the moment, but continued to carry that on throughout the novel. Her and Esben’s relationship made me giddy as it progressed and it became impossible not to love everything about him and what he represented. And what he represented for her was a way to unleash her barriers, to accept she’s worthy of love, and he essentially became the catalyst for her self-realization. A safe spot for her to become an open, ever-moving canvas. But it was more than a novel about a boy falling in love with a girl; it was about friendship and family and the beauty of humankind.

One of the best aspects of 180 Seconds was how Park played with the concept of social media, bringing out the absolute positive aspect of it and weaving it into this story. It’s a feel-good book with a complex main character that battles her own concepts of self, others, and life, but with some very powerful emotional aspects, too. I sobbed from hurt, pain, and elation while reading because it’s the kind of novel that forces an array of emotional responses. I so loved the journey, and felt its warmth and growth at every turn.



essica Park is the author of LEFT DROWNING, RESTLESS WATERS (Left Drowning #2), FLAT-OUT LOVE, the FOL companion novella, FLAT-OUT MATT., FLAT-OUT CELESTE, CLEAR, and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. Jessica 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, Jessica hightailed it back to the east coast. She now lives in (relatively balmy) New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dogs named Fritzy and Finn, and a selfish cat. When not writing, Jessica indulges her healthy obsessions with Facebook and complicated coffee beverages.

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