Quick review for quite a strenuous read. I think “The Leaving” had good ideas and intentions, but in the end, none of it worked for me. I’ll admit I really had to push myself in a marathon just to get through this book.
Quick review for a truly abhorrent reading experience (for me). This was a random library read I picked up, and suffice to say I won’t be reading the sequel to this.
*sighs* I’ll put it like this: it’s a bad sign when you have nothing good to say about a book upon finishing it, but it’s even worse when the experience is so bad that you have little to nothing to say about it. Usually when I’m writing reviews about a book that I dislike, I have a plethora of things to say that was wrong with the experience and I’ll spell it all out. In this case? Everything with this just didn’t work for me.
Initial reaction: Long review coming probably sometime tomorrow when I can meditate on my end thoughts on the novel, which are complex and conflicted. This…may not be a book for everyone to read.
This book had me emotionally shaken and vexed on so many levels, that I don’t even know where to begin. *sighs* I will say – to the narrative’s credit – that it’s well written, emotionally raw, and Mary’s experiences come across as very true to life experiences for incarcerated minority youth for much of the book (not all of it, but a good portion). Tiffany Jackson gets the emotional intimacy and connection of characterizations for this book spot on. The tension in this book is so palpable that I found myself caught between putting the book down and picking it back up eager to read what happens in Mary’s overarching case. It’s a dark read and thought provoking in many places. At first I thought that this narrative would be something akin to reading the narrative “Push” by Sapphire, because the tone of the narrative felt like that to start (and interestingly enough, the narrative mentions Mary reading it at one point.) The aforementioned book was a rough read for me on its own but I appreciated it because of the real horrors and story told in that vein. This book doesn’t go in that direction, but the emotional/physical abuse and fear that Mary endures in places is rage inducing and makes you feel for the character.
If you’re sensing a lingering “but” to those notations, you would be hitting the needlepoint spot on. I sincerely want to pretend that ending (and certain events close to the ending) doesn’t exist. While I don’t mind having the rug pulled out from under me in an apt mystery/thriller, this didn’t feel like that kind of story for much of the narrative. At the very least, one would think at this ending “Wait…there’s an emotional mismatch here – that really didn’t fit the rest of the tone of the story. Even if there were multiple unreliable characters here (and there are: fair warning without delving into too many spoilers), it doesn’t make sense to go that direction because the story already had a compelling story in one tone. It reveals a pretty gruesome but notable reality for an underrepresented population.”
At worst? This book does need a TW on several counts: several notations of homophobia (though one could argue that its influenced by the prejudices of the observed characters), body/sexual shaming (see previous notation), rape/complicit accessory rape/statutory rape (oh, I have a soapbox coming on this very subject matter on so. many. levels.), animal cruelty and dismemberment (I had to stop reading for a bit after that scene because I wasn’t expecting it), among other things.
So, yeah, complex emotions. 😦
My initial rating upon finishing this book was 4 stars, and looks like I’m going to take it down to 3.5 because…MASSIVE caveats. There are brilliant moments in the narrative that really tugged at my heartstrings. I think the essence of Mary’s story is true to the brutality that many young people of color experience in incarceration, juvenile pregnancy, power and abuse in the correctional system, power and abuse in personal relationships, gaslighting, among other things. It’s true to life on some things, but ultimately not in others, and particularly with the progression up through the ending, this is a mature YA (I question it being YA, but I think teens could still read this and get something out of it) dark horror/thriller.
Quick review for a quick read. “Only Ever You” by Rebecca Drake is the first novel I’ve read in this author’s bibliography. It was definitely a page turner. I found it difficult to tear myself away from this book wanting to know what happened next in the overarching mystery. The story centers around the disappearance of a girl named Sophia, causing a downward spiral on an already testy household for her parents Jill and David.
Quick review for a progressive read. It’s hard to describe my reactions to this novel, because, on one hand, this is quite apt to Melina Marchetta’s style of writing – strong characterizations, compelling family-centered stories, and emotional revelations on the topics she touches upon (particularly with respect to race, violence, prejudice, etc.) I enjoyed the journey this novel took me on for the most part, even as it handed down its revelations progressively rather than in one felt swoop like the magnitude of the crime(s) this book centers upon.