by Courtney C. Stevens
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 25, 2014)
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An edgy, realistic debut novel praised by the New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, as "a beautiful reminder that amid our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves."
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox—"the Kool-Aid Kid"—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up.
I expected to like this book. I expected this book to be a tough read. Considering the subject matter, I wanted it to be tough. I needed it to be tough. And I knew in the first few pages, toughness, was one thing it promised to deliver.
So I expected to like this book.
But I didn’t expect to LOVE it nearly as much as I do because I didn’t realize just how many times I’ve faked normal. Or how important it is to be brave, even when everything seems on the verge of ruin. Or how many secrets I’ve kept that I should have told. Seriously, this book punched me. Right. Where. It. Counts.
Early on I knew I was in trouble. Alexi has a secret and she keeps it so well, if you blinked you might have missed it. She’s living in a nightmare but portrays a fairy tale. She’s gotten so good at telling lies that everyone in her life missed what’s going on. Her parents. Her sister. Even her friends. (Or so she thinks.) But one person sees through her facade because he lives in one too.
Bodee. Oh Bodee. Seriously, everyone’s life would be better with Bodee in it. He’s broken. Knows he’s broken. But not once does he use it as an excuse for anything, not for his words, or his silence. Not for his actions or lack thereof. Not to use it to hurt other people or gain sympathy. And honestly, he has some pretty good reasons for being broken. But he takes things slow, analyzes every word Alexi says and the hidden phrases she isn’t brave enough to utter. As Alexi describes, “He’s the guy who can walk straight through the House of Mirrors on the first try. It’s almost annoying. No one should ride tragedy like a pro surfer while I drown.” That was the sentence that pretty much summed up Bodee for me. On the first try, I might add.
Parts of this story were predictable, sort of. I knew Alexi’s secret before reading and honestly it didn’t hurt the story at all. In fact, if you’re not aware that Alexi was raped, the story may not be a good fit because triggers are laced within every page, every awkward silence and few fits of rage. But I thought I had figured a few things out only to be wrong, in an Omy-I-didn’t-see-that-one-
coming way. And there are
parts of this story that I can’t tell you about without giving a huge
chunk of the story away and I won’t ruin it for anyone. But… Captain
Lyric. Also, I gave my heart to page 147, will never look at thumb
prints the same. And then HIM.
Never saw that final twist even though the author takes the reader effortlessly on a downward spiral. Ultimately, the spiral is important. This book is important. More so than I anticipated. Because I relate to Alexi. Because I understand her reasons and her justifications far too well. Because anyone could be faking normal. And we aren’t brave enough to see it.