I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a solid read about real people, with real issues, and it never shys away from that or glosses over the difficult, ugly stuff.
There are some things I really love about this story, particularly the whole end of the novel, which just hit all the right notes for me. In fact, I felt like the story got stronger the longer I read. I confess, there were a few things along the way that bothered the obsessive YA reader that dwells inside me, which was why I sat on this review for a few days. I wanted to know if they even mattered, or if they were just things I fixated on while reading that don’t really impact what a unique and interesting story this was.
For the most part, they don’t matter, because what I’m left with after reading this story is reminders of the impact that poverty, abuse, and hardship have on emotional development and how challenging it can be for people to ever overcome that. I think that’s why this book was so rewarding for me, because it took people who should by all standards be broken and gave them moments where they could choose to grow. Sometimes they did. Sometimes they faltered or even backpedaled, but it was watching them have to confront their issues and demons that held my attention.
The story expertly captures those pivotal moments in people’s lives where they can either rise up and overcome or give up and slip back into dysfunction. Watching all those internal struggles was both fascinating and upsetting for me. Sometimes I had to close the book and set it away from me for a moment, but I found that I would almost immediately pick it back up and start reading again. It’s like I needed space from the weight of the story, but I also didn’t want it.
I could sit here and point at a few things I thought could be improved, in terms of the writing and unique format of the story, but why would I? The reality is that I read this through within 24 hours, and it had an emotional impact on me, which means the story is effective. I cared about what happened to these characters, and I am glad I went on the journey with them.