Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.
He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.
At least so far.
Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.
Published January 12th 2010 by Listening Library
The Elliott Review:
Sometimes I review as a teacher or as a librarian or as a writer - any number of hats I wear while reading. I shall be wearing my fangirl hat for this review. I just can't help myself. I hope that my words clearly convey the reasons why you should run or click to the bookseller of your choice and buy this book NOW... However, if I am gushy and ranting crazily, please excuse me. I stand in the presence of greatness. The emotional intensity in this book left me aching, and the writing left me stunned.
While the summary of this book had intrigued me for some time, I made the decision to listen to it on audiobook primarily because I enjoyed Joshua Swanson's narration of another book. I was not prepared for the cocktail of awesomeness that I found in this. With almost every book I read or listen to, I am in a rush to read fast - especially if the book is good. In this case, however, I seriously was almost afraid to listen too often because I didn't want the experience to end. Every single word, scene, and sentence left me almost physically paralyzed by how much tension, complexity, and heartbreak that resonated in each one. You think I'm exaggerating the physically paralyzed part, but I'm not.
I can't find any of the right words to describe how well Jace's perspective is written throughout the entire book. Okay, I'll try. I sympathized with him, felt sorry for him, rooted for him, felt every single one of his emotions. At times I just stared into space with abject horror at some of the experiences that he just so matter-of-factly relates; at other times, I'm thinking he couldn't be any more of a jerk. He's filled with so much anger and sorrow that he can't control, and it's all eating him alive. Not telling the truth about his situation is killing him slowly because if he doesn't, he can't truly move on.
The way Jace's secret unravels despite his best efforts to keep it hidden is just ... moving. The more he holds it in, the more his need to tell becomes apparent. The relationships in the book are interconnected and truthfully depicted. Jace's need for acceptance from his brother, Christian. His anger and hatred toward his abusive father even in the midst of loving him. His frustration and despair over his mother's refusal to leave. His longing for a relationship with Dakota, mingled with the fear he carries along with his baggage from his ex, Lauren. Mirriam, who Jace opens up to grudgingly. Every character in this book is developed so deeply to the point that I feel like the book isn't exclusively about Jace; it's about each one of them individually, as well.
Since the only exposure I've had to Joshua Swanson had been through his funny and engaging reading of The Lost Hero, I wasn't sure what to expect for his take on an edgy, broken, and angry boy. I was amazed. Just stunned. After a while, I completely forgot that there even was a narrator. There was only a kid named Jace telling his horrible story. There were scenes that I had to rewind over and over again because I was seriously unable to believe how amazing the writing was. I thought every single sentence in the last chapter was the end of the book because of how definitively it was portrayed. Josh's acting ability makes this already amazing book an actual experience.
Young Adult Notes:
Strong language; graphically portrayed domestic abuse.