*CAUTION* SPOILERS SPRINKLED BELOW*
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a review on CoHo’s latest masterpiece, but I came to the decision that I had many thoughts and feelings about this book that I needed to get off of my chest … so … here we go.
When this story opens, Lily has just buried her father… her abusive father. He never hurt her directly, but she witnessed what happened to her mother. Unable to do anything about this abuse as a child, Lily endured years of hearing it happen to a mother who refused to end it. Trying to hold on to the belief that there is good in the world, she befriends a homeless teen that is living in the vacant house next to hers – Atlas. They become fast friends and she tries to help him out the best she can. They spend time together and after some time, once she turns 16, she and Atlas take their friendship to more than friendship. Atlas was Lily’s first kiss, first love, first everything. Suddenly, Atlas disappears and Lily never sees him again. Flash forward to current day and Lily is now living in Boston… happy. She befriends a handsome man, Ryle, and the two begin a rather unconventional relationship. Things are going very, very well for Ryle and Lily, until one night a simple accident turns into something incredibly serious. Lily is flashed back to her childhood and she battles her emotions to make sense of it. Lily suddenly finds herself in her mother’s situtation and she now realizes that making the decision to end everything is not as black and white as she first thought it was.
I’m going to be very, very frank and honest in this review so prepare yourself. I am a survivor of domestic abuse. Not sure I’ve ever typed those words before… but it is part of what made me who I am today. With that said, reading this story was so incredibly hard for me. It felt as if Colleen was writing a part of my history, as if she found a way into my memories. I didn’t suffer as much of the physical as Lily’s character did, but everything else felt as if I was reading my own story (minus the being pregnant part). The emotional, the psychological, the mental abuse were all there. That is why I felt so deeply connected to Lily and her story. I’m just laying the ground work for why I felt so deeply for this story. I was connected to Lily’s character from page one. I just had to know how this story was going to end. This was nothing short of a non-stop emotional roller coaster ride. I felt all of the ups and downs as if I was right in the story with Lily. I wanted to desperately to take her hands and try to talk some sense in to her, but like real life sometimes, you have to let it play out.
I loved how real this story felt (for me, at least). The raw emotions that came across on page were intense. I commend Colleen for being so brave and putting this story into the world. It is needed so much. Colleen does state at the end that parts of this story are taken from her own personal life. That’s brave. That’s hardcore. That’s amazing. To be willing to share a part of yourself that is so personal in such a way is mind blowing. This book is simply sad, painful, brutally honest, and damn smart. The way she portrays notion that everyone has of being in and dealing with an abusive relationship is right on the money. Those relationships are deep, complex, and anything but just black and white. I believe she has finally been able to explain this situation in a way that actually makes sense to everyone.
The other thing that stuck with me about this story is the power of female friendship. Thankfully the MC had a wonderful best friend that she could rely on no matter what. Allysa was well written and I just loved her. I want to be best friend with her in real life.
I know I am going to be bias about this book for reasons above, but I have every right to be. I am not ashamed of what I went through because like the MC in this story, it made me a better, stronger person. I went into this book blind and I wish everyone would as well. Although… that might be difficult to do if you have read my review. Ooops… but I hope you give it a try. It is a powerful read that everyone should have on their TBR.
Note: I was able to attend the CoHo siging when she came through Houston August 9. The event itself was not planned well by B&N, the organization was non-existant, and some of the attendees were rude as all get out, but I’m glad I went because I was able to talk to Colleen directly. I was able to thank her personally for writing this story and putting it into the world.