(Links after the review!)
Before I go into my reviews, I’d like to make a statement of sorts. My experience in reading this book has to do with my own history. Some of my own reactions to parts of Nicky’s story, is just that. My own!
This story is quite powerful in many, many spots. I loved the poem that starts out before the first chapter. It speaks to the heart and has some very positives notes. Right away you’re thrown into Nicky’s torturous story. Literally, thrown right into the mess. It’s hard because I can identify with her fear, the wish to be smaller than she is and to be swallowed up and hiding from her surroundings. Anybody who has faced similar trauma in their lives, knows exactly what this feels like. My heart hurt for young Nicky and Jenise. They face the reality of their father's abuse and addiction and have to learn to live with it and protect themselves. Those are two things that are extremely hard, regardless of your age. It’s even harder in my opinion when it’s a parent.
Nicky learns over the years to work hard at covering up the truth and hiding away from home. In other words, painting on a happy face and working her butt off to reach her goals. Many of those goals are getting away from her family and working hard towards a career. She is pretty successful in this, even as her family gets hit by several different bad things. One of those is her sister being raped. This was another pivotal moment in the book. I had a VERY hard time reading the details of the rape. I didn’t like that part at all. Where as I can understand why that portion may have been important for the author to get her point across, it was hard to read. I’m not oblivious to the reality of something like this at all. It’s also very heartbreaking and I found myself crying for Jenise as well. Yes, the author is successful in pulling out the various emotions in a reader through her character's stories. I’ve always said that it’s a good thing. Even if it’s hurt in some cases. Nicky has to learn how to deal with her feelings towards her sister after the rape too. She feels guilty for a number of reason. Again, a really powerful feelings.
As the story goes along, we learn more about Nicky’s goals and even her accomplishments. I loved how dedicated she is to just about everything she does. Even when it comes to something as simple as forming a cheer squad for a baseball team. That isn’t the first time I’ve read something like that in a book and wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen some day soon. But back to Nicky, she brings her friends on to the team with her and makes some supportive and loving relationships. She ends up feeling comfortable enough to share some of what has happened to her. As a survivor, that’s a huge step. She’s so strong and mature. I wish more people would speak up and share their story and seek help. For Nicky, she found help in the things she did. Whether it was school, cheer, friendships or even volunteering. I loved that about her.
Nicky gets more and more involved with her activities and friendships. Along the way she’s warned about Ryan, who is a member of the team they cheer for. She’s followed the team since she was a kid and loves everything baseball. Even with the warning about him being a ladies man, she finds herself drawn to him. She overhears a conversation that was pretty explicit and instead of turning her completely away from him, she only shifts slightly in her view. As they start talking, Ryan asks her for help with volunteering and helping out with returning veterans. That’s where their story starts to take off a little more. I loved also that there was that focus on something that is serious. It went beyond her own trauma and gave her something positive to focus on as well as bring attention to yet another thing that is pushed away constantly in everyday life. Nobody wants to focus on something as horrible at times as what the returning service members go through. There are quite a few characters there that I think would make interesting stories on their own.
More and more time goes by and Nicky starts to experience all the things that go on with being a teenager. Love, support, faith, peer pressure and even sex. She gets pulled in several different directions as she tries to figure out which path she needs to take. She keeps her goals in sight, but she has to decide whether or not a detour is plausible at any time. She’s in a love triangle that she has no business being in. I found myself angry and the three people in that triangle. Nicky for being unrelenting in her flipping emotions towards one man or the other. Jerry for being clueless in some points where he should have seen the truth in the fact she doesn’t know what she wants. I also didn’t like his peer pressuring at all. That struck a chord with me, again because of my past. Ryan annoyed the heck out of me because of his age and pursuing her. Regardless of the time frame that he took as a time out before he did. I dislike how he goes about things. It’s hard to really say all that irritated me with these characters, because I don’t want to give away much. But at the same time, it’s what makes the story a bit more interesting. Besides the fact that when you look straight at it, they’re people too. They’re not immune to the usual craziness and not so unusual feelings in life.
The book does end in a cliffhanger, as the author states. I always have mixed feelings on cliffhangers. On one hand, I love it gets your attention. On another, it's frustrating because you want to know right then what is going to happen. If you happen to be reading the one before the next is out, the frustration is for sure there. That’s how to keep people interested though! In the end it’s a pretty good book. Although I did have quite a few issues with their experiences, I have to be objective as a reader and reviewer. The story comes together pretty well.
Nicky's story is one that needs to be shared and put out out there. The author brings a very touchy subject to the forefront, where it needs to be.
Even through the rough circumstances of her life, Nicky is a strong woman and fighting for survival among all this negativity. I loved her ability to go on and fight.
Some of the supporting characters are really interesting and it will be intriguing to see if their stories blossom a little more in the future books of the series.
I honestly believe there should have been a disclaimer right off the bat. Yes, there is a warning of sorts regarding how Nicky survives her family's alcoholism. But nothing after that warns you to the fact that there is deeply detailed trauma that can cause triggers for some readers. I would have liked to either see a disclaimer in the description of the book on Amazon and/or the book itself. It would have helped prepare me for it in some ways.
There were moments where the story stalled out a little. Nothing too major or distracting.
It’s an emotional read that walks you through the life of a young girl who is turning into a women and facing many, many challenges beyond the norm. It will be interesting to see where her path takes her from here.
I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.
Authors Amazon Page: Pamela Taeuffer
Authors GoodReads Page: Pamela Taeuffer