Monday, February 14, 2011

011. >> BOOK REVIEW: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Format: Hardcover (library)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.
(Summary from Amazon)


It's Valentine's Day so I should probably be reviewing a romance or something. This book definitely has some elements of romance. The Mockingbirds was an unexpected read for me. I previewed it on my Kindle, just messing around, but after I read the first couple of chapters I was hooked. I had to read the rest and I finished the book in a little over a day. It was a very quick read. I just had to know what was going to happen next.

The Mockingbirds has one of those cliche beginnings where the narrator wakes up. However, there is nothing ordinary about Alex's morning. She doesn't know where she is. She doesn't know who this boy is. Her confusion is handled well and seems very authentic. It's not just a gimmick. And then, slowly, the truth starts to come back.

The more intriguing part of this novel was the world it was set in. Themis Academy is a liberal boarding school filled with incredible students. Each one is driven, has a passion, is supremely talented and smart. It was nice to see such a high achieving cast of characters. This is certainly not the norm. Everyone is exceptional and so is the school in almost every way except the leadership. I think it was important for Whitney to create a school where the adults were very hands off. So the teachers at Themis and the administration live in a bubble where they challenge students daily and appreciate their amazing talents when students perform for the Faculty Club while ignoring all their faults and problems which seem to be glaringly obvious at some times. I found it a little hard to believe that all the teachers and admin at Themis could be so completely oblivious (with one noted exception) and that they wouldn't have any support in the dorms like an RA or something just to enforce basic rules like curfew or whatever but I was willing to suspend my disbelief because this was the world I was presented with and it was necessary so that the Mockingbirds would have a place at Themis.

There were so many interesting characters. T.S. is Alex's best friend, a strong-willed soccer chick who recognizes the problem with Alex's story about her night after the concert before Alex even those. Maia, Alex's roommate, a fierce debater, ready to take her case to trial from the very first moment. Jones, the second most talented musician in the school, ready to defend Alex by whatever means possible. Sandeep, deeply analytical, so much so that he can calculate Alex's blood alcohol level by totaling her drinks and correctly estimating her weight. These may not be the type of students that you know but it's believable they would all exist in this high school, each highly intelligent and highly moral, not afraid to state their views and opinions.

Then there's Carter, Alex's date-rapist. He's on the Water Polo team, a team for arrogant jocks. It reminded me of the OC because that's the only other time I've seen a water polo team in teen life and they were mean jocks too. Carter is cocky, crude, a liar and a rapist. His friends are equally as nasty. This was my main quibble with the book. Alex's friends were so righteous and almost perfect. If this is such an exceptional school that admits only the best students why didn't we ever get a sense of how Carter and his friends ever got in. They didn't seem exceptional or bright or talented. They were just horrible harassers and stereotypical jocks. Is water polo really that valued of a talent? I wonder what the story would have been like if there were more of a gray area when it came to the situation. If Alex really couldn't remember much, if Carter were confused about what consent actually should be. Not that Carter should be necessarily sympathetic but he didn't fit in with any of the other kids. As it is Alex's case is very black and white but that doesn't mean it comes without complications. There are plenty of complications.

Alex's emotional struggle with her rape seems very real. She goes back and forth with her feels. She's torn between blaming herself, guilt, anger and shame. I definitely wanted to see her get some real help from a professional but luckily Alex has a strong network of friends around her. You can see her healing process and while it's not easy or straightforward you can tell that Alex is going down the right path to liberate herself from this personal injustice.

The whole experience of the trial by the Mockingbirds was fascinating. The way the Mockingbirds operated was complicated yet nuanced and supported by the book that inspired everything To Kill a Mockingbird. I do wonder why they posed as an acapella group when they know that the faculty likes to have students perform for them. Maybe that will be explored in future books. The way the Mockingbirds works is kind of complicated and confusing but it helps that Alex needs everything broken down for her just like the reader does. Just as Alex is impressed the reader will be impressed by how this student built and run justice system works with seemingly no hiccups. I'm interested in seeing how it will evolve when plaintiff and/or defendant is not as willing to work within the Mockingbirds' well established rules. (I'm pretty sure more books are planned.)

One of the highlights of the book is the budding romance between Martin and Alex. It's very natural and even though it happens during a hard time in Alex's life it still seems like it was meant to be. martin is an upstanding guy with a passion for studying birds. He's very charming and always seems cool, even as he describes the time he dissected an owl. I really enjoyed the chemistry between them. These lighter moments helped balance out the heavy themes in his book.

All in All, The Mockingbirds is a solid read that I recommend. It will make you think about Themis Academy and how justice works in your environment. This situation is very close to the author's heart as she writes in the afterword. There is a lot of passion in this novel and that makes it a satisfying read.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

010. >> BOOK REVIEW: Sellout by Ebony Joy Wilkins

Title: Sellout
Author: Ebony Joy Wilkins
Format: eBook (Kindle)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: NaTasha has a wonderful life in affluent Park Adams. She fits in, she has friends, and she's a member of the all-white ballet troupe. Being nearly the only African American in her school doesn't bother NaTasha. But it bothers Tilly, NaTasha's spitfire grandmother from Harlem, who decides NaTasha needs to get back to her roots or her granddaughter is in danger of losing herself completely. Tilly whisks NaTasha away to a world where all of a sudden nothing in NaTasha's life makes any sense: Harlem and Comfort Zone in the Bronx, a crisis center where Tilly volunteers her time to help troubled girls get on the right track. Girls who are completely unlike anyone NaTasha has ever encountered. These girls are rough, beautiful, streetwise, sure of themselves, and wield their secrets like knives--and they dislike NaTasha and her world of privilege with a passion.

If there is ever a time when NaTasha feels like running away from something, now is it. But she doesn't. She stands her ground. And what she discovers surprises everyone, especially NaTasha.
(Summary from Amazon. And it should be Adams park.)


Sellout is an important novel. It's the type of story that many people can relate to. Most people have felt like they didn't quite fit in for one reason or another. They did things they didn't necessarily want to do just to make a friend or keep a friend they already had. This book will also speak to people who have grown up in a similar environment. It can be difficult to be one of the few black people in a mostly white school. There are not many books that explore this situation. I think Sellout is honest about the types of problems and confusions that can happen from growing up in such a situation. NaTasha's situation will remind a lot of people of themselves. Her hair won't do the same things that her white friend's hair does. Her body is more built for volleyball than ballet. NaTasha tries to tell herself that these are small things but soon she can't deny that maybe she needs to try something different.

Wilkins does a fine job contrasting NaTasha's suburban life with her life in Harlen with Tilly. There's an interesting cast of characters around Tilly's apartment and they all have their own important role in NaTasha's summer. I especially liked the contrast between Amir and Khalik, two guys that NaTasha may or may not have her eye on as the summer goes by. Her encounters with both boys are instrumental in shaping her summer.

The core of the plot revolves around NaTasha's time spent at Amber's Place, a crisis center for troubled girls. NaTasha has a tough time with the other girls there who are much more mature than she is in some ways and also deeply troubled. I was surprised about how far the conflict went between NaTasha and the other girls. I was glad that Wilkins did not shy away from escalating the situation. NaTasha has a good reason to be as distraught as she is about her time there. The turning point doesn't really result from anything NaTasha does directly but it felt realistic to me because girls are constantly changing their minds. There is still plenty of conflict and drama in the second half of the book despite the changes in NaTasha's relationship with the other girls.

NaTasha isn't always an easy character to like but that's what makes the book charming. The reader learns to like NaTasha for who she is just as she learns to like herself the way she is. NaTasha learns who really cares for her in her life and who doesn't. It's an important transformation that every teenager needs to go through. I was really impressed about how this story spoke about hating your own skin and the person you are and how painful that is. One of the girls at Amber's Place, Shaunda, was probably the most fascinating character in the novel for me. There's something innately horrible about wishing you could be something you can never change into and never fitting in. Wilkins captured that pain with Shaunda and we get to witness her redemption.

Sellout is a solid read about a situation that needs to be written about. There are all sorts of black teens out there experiencing different kinds of lives. Whether they are in the inner-city or the suburbs they all have a story to tell. Sellout is that type of story so if you're at all interested in reading something about the black suburban teen experience you should give this book a try.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

009.>> BOOK REVIEW: Pull by BA Binns

Title: Pull
Author: B.A. Binns
Format: Book (hardcover from library)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: High school senior David Albacore is dealing with major upheaval after his father murders his mom. In the terrible aftermath, he changes his name and moves to a tough new inner-city Chicago high school with his younger sister Barney, when they and their now silent younger sister, Linda, move in with their aunt. David blames himself for not saving their mom that night; after being injured in a basketball game in which he was the star, David was given strong painkillers, which caused him to sleep through the shooting. Barney, who found their mom's body, is fragile after a hospital stay and is barely able to cope. With their mother gone and their father in jail, David tries to take care of his sisters as they grieve and adjust to a different kind of life. When he's forced to join the basketball team or be expelled after getting in too many fights, it cuts into his after-school construction job that he takes to help his aunt support his family. Then David begins falling for Yolanda, the hottest girl in school and Perry, the school player and bully's girlfriend. They flirt and spar, but going after this fashion loving Mighty Mite spells big trouble for David. And as he ponders trying for a basketball scholarship or keeping the construction job he loves, Aunt Edie's stroke eliminates most of David's options. He can keep his family together by working construction full time, or follow his mom's dream of college, which would probably send Barney into foster care. Teen readers will hold their breath as David weighs his options about the kind of life he wants to live. (Summary from Amazon.)


This is a book I picked up on a whim from the library. I nearly put it back because I have WAY too many library books checked out but when I decided to check something else out I thought, well, since I'm already getting this one might as well get that one. So I put took Pull back into my arms. That night I opened the book on a whim and skimmed the first chapter. Then I couldn't put it down. I was completely sucked into David's story and I had to find out what was going to happen next.

David Albacore is a strong character. His voice rings true through the pages. His thoughts, his words and his actions were completely believable from what I knew about him. I really heard the thoughts of a 17 year old guy on the page and not just any guy. This is a guy who has been through some tough things in his life, who has a lot of different experiences and has the intelligence and determination to make things happen in his life. I was really impressed by the voice of the novel. I've read a lot of "boy" books and this was one of the most authentic voices I've read. Binns does a fine job getting us inside of David's head and bringing him alive on the page. I was right there in David's world, in the middle of his problems were there are no easy choices.

The best part about this book is how real the characters are. Everyone had flaws. David is not a perfect guy. He makes stupid choices. He goes back on his word. He's obsessed with objectifying his crush and thinking about how much he wants to have sex with her. He goes back on his word. He can be cocky, crass and downright rude and mean to people. But this all goes into showing the type of guy that David is. And there's this other side to David. He'll literally do anything for his little sister (including pretending to be her boyfriend!) while still having those moments where he can't stand her. He's very accepting of the fact that his new friend is gay. He recognizes his own potential and the potential in others. There are many different sides to David and often times his desire to do the right things is wrestling with the side of him that wants to do whatever will feel best right now. The books does a great job depicting these constant internal struggles and how it affects David's life. It's just another example of how real David is as a character.

The other characters in the book are also multifaceted. David's younger sister, Barney, can be very annoying, demanding and naive but David always manages to remember that she is a young, fragile teenager. The object of David's huge crush, Yolanda, is quite unlikable in several scenes but she manages to have a redemption story all her own. Kasili is the basketball coach and guidance coach who's not afraid to exert his power over David but is also encouraging and well-meaning. There's only one character without any redeeming qualities. In fact, he is so awful that I was a bit disappointed to never find out another side of him since all the other characters are so layered. I was really impressed with Binn's willingness to write David just as selfish as he was selfless with his life. There are certain things David wants that will not mesh with the way he has to live his life. But he never stops wanting them. I think that was the most realistic part of the novel.

Pull is a book that will pull you through from beginning to end as David is pulled from every direction--school, basketball, work, family--until he ultimately finds the solution that he chooses for himself. The last part of the book is a tumble of bad circumstances, hasty decisions and changing minds that makes the ending particularly fast-paced. The beginning focuses on David's new life and his crush/obsession with Yolanda, which can drag in a couple of parts, but really clicks in the middle. It's definitely a novel for mature older readers. A couple of parts made me cringe but nothing was over-the-top or unrealistic. Binns does a terrific job exploring survivor's guilt and abusive relationships. We experience though David's eyes and while he doesn't always get everything entirely right he does have unique and important insights.

Pull tells the story of teenagers who have to make adult choices too young. It's never easy but it still has to happen. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read a different kind of voice and a different kind of life where triumph does come from tragedy but not entirely in the way you would expect. David's story is important and if you're willing to take a chance on him you should definitely pick up this book.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

008.>> a brief fangirl moment and a music video review

You probably don't know but I am a big American Idol fan. I have watched all seasons of American Idol religiously except for Season 4 when I was out of the country. Even then when I had access to a TV in Asia I managed to catch a couple of episodes. Anyway, my all time favorite contestant is Anoop Desai. He captured me from the very first note he sang at auditions. It wasn't his look. It wasn't his personality. None of that mattered to me. It was all about his voice for the first few weeks of the show until he got a makeover and started looking pretty attractive. Now I think he's REALLY hot but he's still got that voice and he's super talented. This guy is a go-getter. He didn't get signed after Idol but he's out there on his own producing music independently. He put out his own CD last year and he's working on an awesome mixtape now that we'll be able to download for FREE. I've met him many times, he's a super cool dude. If you look at my youtube page you'll see I have 40+ videos from his concerts that I've been to. I'm a very devoted fangirl! Unfortunately, he moved to Atlanta so he's no longer so accessible to me! (I live in NC where he used to live)

I was sad I wouldn't be able to go to his big music video premiere party. Then my life changed when he released the music video online today! I invited you all to watch it. All is Fair (Crazy Love) is definitely one of the top songs on his album.

This video is basically a dark comedy. Anoop sings his heart out while the object of his affection tortures him violently in many different ways. It's interesting that Anoop chose to go this way. I see Crazy Love as a light, fun song about an unrequited crush but Anoop is exploring the darker side of obsessive love. It can make you crazy, it can make you blind, it can kill you. Anoop never stops singing to this girl. There's a lot of books out there about obsessive, dangerous, crazy love. You'd better be careful. Don't want this happening to you!

But on the other hand you can see it as one of those zombie violence comedies where every scary thing is so over the top you just want to laugh. Anoop has on a very nice outfit throughout the whole song and the production looks very professional. I love the lighting when he's just singing into the microphone. One thing you have to love about Anoop is his clear, well-toned vocals. That's not autotune, that's just how he sounds, naturally. He was really born to sing.

So watch Crazy Love and tell me what you think! While you're at it check out my favorite live version of the song.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

007. >> Idol Ideation [Week 3]

Another week, another episode of Idol. Let’s get it!

This week we are auditioning in Austin, Texas. Does that mean a plethora of country talent? I guess we’ll see. But just like Ryan Seacrest promised there’s an apology at the top of the hour. The producers claim that they are sorry about Steven Tyler’s outrageous behavior. Then they show him talking to some kid who’s last name is Muck. “You know what rhymes with Muck? Read my lips...”

Uh... right. Nice try at humor, Idol. Let’s leave it to the experts.

And one of the experts is Steven Tyler. He’s unintentionally funny, yeah, but I choose to believe that he’s more away than he lets on. I just love the way he seems so genuine on the panel and he lets the music flow through him and says how he feels and what he thinks. I think that’s refreshing. Jennifer Lopez is more reserved and Randy has never been little more than a lump in his seat even though he’s trying to branch out. Steven is the one who will save this show. So stop it with the fake apologies and let’s get on to the show.

Corey Levoy
First up is Corey with a questionable relationship with his sister but by the end I think they are really just best gal pals and it’s refreshing for both of them. I’m not much a country fan but I liked his clear high country voice. And then the Jlo booty thing just cracked me up.

Long, drawn out, unnecessary. I didn’t see anything special about her besides her constant tears. She sang one of the most annoying songs known to man. Randy was right with his first instinct. They dragged that segment out for way too long. I doubt she’ll make it through the first cut in Hollywood.

Rodolfo Ochoa
Loud doesn’t necessarily mean good. I didn’t find the tone of his voice particularly please to my ears. It was very flat or something. I’m not sure why they are featuring this guy. He isn’t very interesting. I do like the blue in his hair.

Ryan: Why did you name him John Wayne?
Mom: He wanted a son that was rough and tough
Ryan: You would have been disappointed if I were your son!
Dad: If you were my son you wouldn’t be the way that you are.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! lmao!

Haha, a genuine funny moment. That’s the kind of Ryan that I like. I don’t like when the producers make him make fun of contestants. Ryan is a good guy and he can relate to people. That’s what makes him a good host. I don’t like Cheap Shot Ryan

John Wayne Schultz
VERY handsome, a rugged cowboy guy. Not my usual type but I’m attracted to him. Love the shirt. His voice is great. Like I said, I don’t like country but I liked his voice. There was something in his singing that was soulful. It was like he really felt the song. He’s such a big guy but also a homebody and a mama’s boy and he loves his family. That’s heart-warming. I could root for this kid. I love his mom because she loves him so much and his dad loves him too. Cute families on Idol are the best! Helps you feel closer to the contestant. I hope he makes it through Hollywood. I’m not going to get too excited about anyone yet. I’ve already made that mistake.

The show is only an hour so why are we spending so much time on watching the judges walk in the room? They seriously spent like 5 minutes on this useless segment at the top and middle of the hour.

Courtney Penry
She’s trying to get with my man Ryan Seacrest and she’s only 17. Step off, Courtney. I guess she’s pretty good. She also seems like a cool, funny kid. So I’m glad she made it through and I look forward to seeing if she can keep her fun, goofy nature through the pressure of the competition.

Why are there so many commercials? Jeez.

I’ve been watching the Bachelor so I’m sick of people named Shauntel. I had no idea there were so many ways of spelling it. Chantal. Chantel. Shawntel. Shauntel. I mean on and on and on and on. I enjoyed the black guy in this golden ticket montage. I love R&B voices, those are the people that I ultimately vote for. Except when the season is total crap like season 9. Then I vote for Tim.

Power Couple Jacqueline and Nick
Steven enjoyed Nick immediately. I loved his happy laughed looking at him. The girl has a lot of hair. I’m not really impressed by the girl. I liked the boy more. But I don’t care about them one bit. On to the next one... I hope one gets into top 12 and one doesn’t. What can I say? I watch American Idol, don’t I!

Her country voice was good but it didn’t grab me. People seem to like her though.

Randy’s mean to people. But it’s pathetic compared to Simon. Cuz Randy is just like... mean. But Simon was witty and cleaver with his insults. I don’t miss him that much... but it’s when they try to make someone into the new Simon. That’s when I think about him.

Seth Rogen! Or Casey Abrahams
He really does look like Seth Rogan because he’s 19 and looks about 30. When I first saw Seth Rogen I thought he was like 35. And he was 23. This dude was just charismatic from the start. I loved his little instrument, whatever that this was. I like his jazz singing, the gravely, harsh voice, I dig it. He seems like a sweetheart. I think an idol makeover could be good for him. He’s a lot of fun. I’m gonna root for this guy. I’m excited. He’s like a breath of fresh air. I love white guys with soul, I can’t lie!

Great for Idol to end the show on a happy note rather than the big sob story of the hour. People are so sick of sob stories. We wanna vote for the singers and the singing. I hope the producers will start to understand that.

Overall, it was just a decent episode of idol. There was way too many useless segments and commercials, especially since we only had an hour. I’m looking forward to Hollywood. I can’t wait until we get to live shows with voting. See you next week!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

006.>> BOOK REVIEW: Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman

Title: Something Like Hope
Author: Shawn Goodman
Format: Book (hardcover from library)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: Shavonne is a fierce and desperate seventeen year-old who finds herself in a large juvenile lockup hundreds of miles from home. She wants to turn her life around before she turns eighteen, but her problems seem too big, and time is running out. Amidst corrupt guards, out-of-control girls, and shadows from her past, Shanvonne must find the courage to fight for a redemption she’s not sure she deserves. (Summary From Goodreads)


If I could describe this book in one word it would be riveting. This was a book that grabbed my by the throat and wouldn't let me go until I finished. I haven't experienced a book like that in a long time. I finished it in a few hours where there was nothing but me and the story unfolding in front of me on the pages.

The novel isn't long. It's less than 200 hundred pages. The chapters are short, many less than a few pages. But it's so dense that the length doesn't matter. Shavonne's world, her life and her words, are deep within the pages and they don't leave your mind once you've closed the book.

In some ways this is a terrifying book. The conditions of Shavonne's juvenile detention center are deplorable, almost too awful to imagine but there is a strong authority in the voice of this novel. You can tell this story comes from somebody's heart and true experiences because the story doesn't pull any punches. The author, Shawn Goodman, worked in juvenile detention facilities like the one he describes in the story. I hope that not even one awful thing that the guards do to the girls in there really happen in real life but I think I have to accept the fact that it does.

I just opened the book right now to the back jacket and looked at Goodman's picture in the back. I was honestly surprised to see that there wasn't a young black woman staring at me but an older white man who looks very serene. Like I said, the voice was very authentic. I was swept up by Shavonne's voice and her story and most of all, her pain. It was very vivd, almost overwhelming, just like it felt to her. But the intensity kept me flying through the pages. I had to see how Shavonne was going to push through, how she was going to get her life back together. What I found was that there were no easy solutions.

Despite Shavonne's actions she easily rises as a character you need to root for. It's because below the violence and profanity you can see that's she's just a victim of a very awful life and this is apparent early on. Even Shavonne doesn't understand why she acts the way she does. So instead of being angry with her you want to sympathize with her and senf her the hope and love she so desperately needs.

My other favorite character was Mr. Delpopolo who seemed just as broken and sad and lost as Shavonne at sometimes. But he's also strong in his own way and he's one of the few adults in the novel that's actually likeable. The other adults such as the guards, the ones in charge, are everyone's enemy. It's hard to understand some of the incidents that go down in the Center because told through Shavonne's eyes everything is unsurprising even though to the outsider these actions seem pretty horrific.

It's an intense novel, full of all the emotions that Shavonne will and will not let herself feel. When I got the end I didn't want to turn the last page. I needed to keep going with Shavonne on her journey. There was so much more to learn. It ended all too soon. That's my only concern about the novel.

This isn't an easy story to read. It might leave you angry with the world or wondering about the things that happened in your own life and how they can haunt your past and your future but I recommend this book to you because once you finish you will be glad you read it. It'll show you a different side to life whether you've experienced something like this or not. Maybe you'll relate to Shavonne's story more than you think.

So go get Something Like Hope and read it as soon as you can. I know when I go to sleep tonight that Shavonne's words will still be on my mind.


Friday, January 28, 2011

005. >> BOOK REVIEW: Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Title: Scars
Author: Cheryl Rainfield
Format: Book (hardcover from library)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Synopsis: Kendra is a talented artist but behind ever painting of a happy face there is a hidden corner of pain lurking in the shadows, ready to strike. She's not exactly sure what happened to her when she was younger but she knows it was bad and her rapist is still out there, reminding her that the abuse hasn't truly ended. As Kendra struggles to find her strength her life threatens to crumble around her unless she can figure out the truth...


Intense isn't quite the right word for this book. It's more than that. It's an emotional punch that's hard to believe except somewhere deep inside you know that Kendra's situation is not unique.

Kendra is strong and talented 15 year old who treasures the things that make her feel safe and happy and tries to cope with everything that doesn't. Her biggest source of support is her therapist, Carolyn. But she can't be with Carolyn all the time. When she's not at therapy she has to deal with annoying classmates, a mom who won't get off her back about everything, and the emerging memories of a long personal history of sexual abuse. When it becomes too much for her Kendra turns to cutting, which is graphically but accurately described in one scene. Along with all of this, Kendra is also dealing with being a lesbian, which she accepts but her family does not.

There are a lot of issues in this book but they don't become overwhelming. It's refreshing to see that Kendra is comfortable with her sexuality even if her parents aren't. Despite all of her traumas Kendra handles herself very maturely. All of the characters in the book talk about their feelings directly and succinctly. Sometimes it's a little jarring because these are conversations that not most people will have in their lives. However, it's essential to the emotional heart of this novel. If Kendra wasn't able to share herself with the important players in her life then there would be nowhere for this story to go.

The whole time I was reading I was eager to find out if everything Kendra was experiencing and remembering was actually real. It kept me pushing forward, even as the impossible seemed to become more and more real. The chapters are short. This took a little getting used to. Usually when I get to the end of a chapter I feel like the scene is over and I close my eyes and open them up to find myself in another place. However, with this book I would close my eyes and open them in the new chapter and find myself in the same room. But the short chapters were necessary to take a break from the emotional punches that were all throughout the book.

The real gem of this novel is the sense of hope that rings true throughout Kendra's story. She never stops reaching out and striving for something better. I think that's very important in a book as heavy and dire as this book could be if there wasn't that sense that things could work out eventually.

The ending is fast paced and unexpected but not entirely surprising. Rainfield is not afraid to push the stakes higher and higher. Fortunately her characters and her writing can handle this incredibly emotional story.

This is a novel that makes you think about all the horrible things that can happen in the world and the different ways that people get through it. This is not a casual read but it's an important one. It goes quickly but doesn't leave your mind once your finished. I'm glad Rainfield included a list of websites in the back for further exploration because my mind is still spinning from everything that happened in this book.

If you're looking for something deep and fast paced and realistic and raw yet heartfelt and ultimately uplifting, this is a book you need to read.

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