Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Published: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review.
“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”
On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.
She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.
When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.
Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?
I feel a little weird saying that I really enjoyed this book considering the subject matter. That out of the way, I really enjoyed this book. The story is well written, the characters are engaging and have strong, solid voices. Willow really stood out for me and I really love how she grew and changed as the story progressed-it was refreshing to see her find her own footing and stand up for herself. Brody is a great character and he really works well with Willow. I love their relationship and how it changes both of them and really pushes Willow to stand on her own.
There were a few instances where I was a little skeptical of the authenticity of the story. Medical professionals are trained to recognize abuse, as are teachers, and most adults would question the amount of bruises/’accidents’, and injuries Willow happens to have. A few scenes slipped past me as well, as some of the abuse happened in front of witnesses. I understand Jaden’s hold on the school and student body, but someone would have spoken up at some point–and that could have been really interesting to explore. That being said, I did like how Willow didn’t instantly become able to stand on her own simply because Brody came into her life. It took time for her to be able to speak up, to do something other than suffer at the hands of her tormentors.
Overall: A well written, thoughtful read with memorable characters. I will be picking up more from this author.