Top positive review
Captivating, heartbreaking and enlightening
12 January 2019
Holy Hell!! I was captivated from the very start. Before I start my review, I need to say: Please heed the trigger warnings - there are some truly horrific and heartbreaking scenes in this book - physical assault, self harm, recounts of sexual assault, and quite horrible verbal abuse (bullying with direct intent for the victim to die/suicide) to name the main themes.
Now for the review itself. This book was spellbinding! So well written! The character development is amazing, the storyline gripping and had great flow, and the traumatic side of the plotlines tastefully and carefully written.
We meet Blaire as she and her parents are unpacking in their new town. We are told her twin Ethan died and that the circumstances of his death were controversial and saw them practically run out of Amber Springs (their old home town). The details surrounding Ethan's desth are gradually revealed throughout the story - some of the details are easily guessed due to how the family is reacting, others aren't. Blaire escapes the house to go for a run and ends up meeting Axel, Skeet and Heath. They have an immediate connection, and form a friendship that sees Blaire's parents happy she's meeting people and making friends, and gives Blaire someone to help her get through the first days at her new school.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows though. A jealous ex-girlfriend and someone from her past threaten to break Blaire as her well hidden secrets come out in a dramatic fashion in front of the whole school. But that's still not the full story! It takes until the later half of the novel, set 19mths after their senior year, for the full extent of what happened to Blaire to be revealed, and for Ethan's actions to be explained.
I was heartbroken with what Blaire went through - tissues are definitely needed, and that's not something I often find myself saying. The first half of the book is solely from her perspective, so I got the full impact of what she was going through. The 2nd half introduces chapters from the guy's perspectives, which was a perfect way to introduce their inner musings, expose their hurt and confusion, and to round out the story.
I loved that this book was long enough to close out ALL of the plotlines - not one was left unanswered, and not one was rushed.
The epilogue was beautiful and filled with hope and positivity. I'm so glad I read this book, and, as heart wrenching as it was at times, thrilled that I got to experience Blake's journey with her. She is an amazing and strong character to have survived all of that - so well written.
Definitely a book I would recommend, but as I mentioned, be aware of those trigger warnings.