Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

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Heartbreaking realistic fiction.
Thanks to NetGalley, Fiction With Meaning LLC and a Goodreads giveaway for the ARC of Mean Little People by Paige Dearth.
The prologue broke my heart with the bullying of a seven-year-old boy. Tony was severely bullied by children and then he went home after being saved by a passerby and was bullied horribly by his father. The story continues on as Tony grows up, makes friends, loses friends and stands up to his father. The story jumps through Tony’s life and is somewhat choppy for a while but then finally settles and flows better. Once Tony becomes a teenager, the jumping stops and the story continues on with the tragically sad, horrifying and heartbreaking events that he’s living through. Tony sees his friend Salvatore harm someone. Vincent and Salvatore run away but Tony stays to help the injured person. A witness sees Tony by the person and tells the police that Tony was the killer when the person dies. Tony ends up in a juvenile detention center where he’s abused beyond comprehension. The only reason he was arrested is because he wouldn’t tell on Salvatore. Salvatore’s father is the mob boss but he’s cold and uncaring so he doesn’t help Tony as much or as quickly as he should. The mob eventually kills the witness and Tony is released. Now he has nowhere to go because his wretched father refuses to let him stay at home because he’s a “criminal”. He’s homeless. Tony finds a friend in a male drug addict and they share a room in an abandoned apartment building. This is the first time that he feels safe and isn’t harmed by someone he’s trusted. He also meets Donata, who owns a bakery that Tony frequently visits on the rare occasion when he has money. Donata and her granddaughter Ruth become family to Tony. His addict friend freezes to death and Tony is left on the streets alone and terrified of freezing to death too. He ends up joining the Slayers, a violent gang, just so he has a warm place to sleep. Through all of this, Salvatore begs his father to help Tony. The mob boss finally gives Tony a job, freeing him from the Slayers. He always tells Tony that he is indebted to him and the mob family and owes them, even though Salvatore continues to remind his father that he’s really indebted to Tony for saving him from the awful detention center in the first place. This story reminds me of the movie “Scarface”, with the hatred, anger and violence. I admire the author for being brutally honest with the details of the harm and violence that is predominantly portrayed throughout the book. Perseverance is strongly represented also. Tony has amazing strength and because we’re given his view of tragedies that he suffered through, his strength and perseverance become even more hard- earned and amazing because he carries on. The choppy grammar is used to make the characters real and it does work. Heartbreaking realistic fiction that’s also very eye-opening, 4 stars.

Saving Brad by Siobhan Davis

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Saving Brad by Siobhan Davis is the fifth book in the Kennedy Boys series. The author brings the reader up to speed with perfection and the complex storyline continues with the characters returning to their sophomore year at Harvard. Rachel and Brad deal with their tumultuous relationship among both of their families’ problems. They realize that they’re becoming friends after they both finally let their guard down. Suspense filled storyline and dynamic characters are Siobhan Davis’ mark and make this book another highly recommended new adult read. 5 stars!

I voluntarily reviewed an advance complimentary copy of this book.

The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan! The author’s foreword explains the reasoning for the story and also forewarns the reader of difficult content. The story is based on the author’s ancestry and heritage. Bethan meets Martyn at the market and they become friends and Martyn protects Bethan from a group of bullies. The bullies are led by Silas, who’s selfish and entitled and cruel. He and his group do terrible things to Bethan and harm Martyn in the process. This book is full of darkness and full of hope and interestingly eye-opening because of the Romani history. 5 stars for a story full of strength and retribution.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary consideration.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I have finally gotten around to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This book is monumental and legendary in how it faces life head on. The story contains everything from adolescence that defines us – teen angst, popularity or lack thereof, family struggles, dysfunctional families and the relationships that we form during this impressionable time that will help shape our futures. Empowering and overwhelming, this contemporary classic bears its soul for the world to see, learn from and to grow with- 5 stars!

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

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Before I read Inexcusable by Chris Lynch, I read reviews, the synopsis and the author’s reasoning for writing this book. The male main character and point of view was refreshing and a good change of pace. Keir is in denial about what he has done and he sifts through his life’s experiences and tries to justify the type of person he is. By the end of the story, Keir has shared many memories in between the spotlight on his inexcusable act against Gigi, who he claims to love. As the reader, you get to hear from his family members as well and see how they perceive Keir and his actions. I give this book 3.5 stars for a story that may be helpful to teens dealing with similar problems.

Faithful

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a surprisingly uplifting book, even though a lot of sadness and turmoil take priority as the story unfolds. I received a book through a Goodreads giveaway and an advance reader copy for a fair review, thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster!

The books by telling the tragic story of two teenage girls involved in a car accident and what happens to both of them afterwards. Helene is in a coma and miraculously heals people by the touch of her left hand. Shelby feels guilty for not being as physically damaged as Helene and continues to blame herself for the accident because she was driving. Shelby has had to deal with horrible experiences even after the accident: trying to commit suicide, being sent to a psychiatric ward, being raped by an orderly in the ward and trying to deal with everything and still live a normal life. Shelby moves in with Ben, a guy she has known for a long time and this way, she finally gets out of her parents’ home and gains a little independence. She saves neglected pets, gets a job in a pet store and builds a relationship with Ben. Shelby meets new people, makes friends and makes some mistakes along the way. Shelby finally realizes she wants to improve her relationships and be more grateful for them. She has a wonderful mother and she finally realizes that also. Shelby’s world turns completely around after the accident, and then, eventually, her world turns around again. Through her struggles and trials, Shelby finally knows what she wants in life and how to let herself enjoy life and love. I give this book 5 stars because I became so involved with the characters and grew to understand parts of my own life more clearly through reading about Shelby! Thank you, Alice Hoffman!

Paint My Body Red

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Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the digital book of Paint My Body Red by Heidi R. Kling! This story involves a depressed main character, Paige, who is dealing with something terrible (the reader has to wait to find out all of the details) and she is leaving her mother to visit her sick father that she hasn’t seen in a long time. Paige arrives in Wyoming and sees how much her father has deteriorated. While confronting this trauma and comforting her father the best way she can, she renews her friendship with Jake, a ranch hand that used to be her close friend when they were younger. The mystery of past events becomes revealed a snippet at a time, as the story is told in parts of then and now and goes from tragic sadness to heartwarming happiness. The complex story flows well and the author bring the characters alive, which helps the reader relate to and gain empathy for them. I give Paint My Body Red 5 stars because Heidi R. Kling pulled all the aspects of this complicated story together cohesively and kept it riveting!

All is Not Forgotten

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the arc of All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker! Jenny Kramer attends a high school party where she is raped and left on the grass afterwards. A treatment to erase horrible memories from your mind has been created and is used on Jenny to erase the trauma. The treatment erases the memories from your mind, but they live on in the soul and body. Jenny can’t remember the rape because of the treatment, so she can’t point out the rapist, but she remembers useless information that she can’t place, such as a strong odor, a song, and why she was outside in the first place. I like how the story is told by the psychiatrist and, through his point of view, shows the emotional upheaval of everyone involved and the precarious nature of being a therapist. The whole controversy surrounding the memory treatment brings up a barrage of questions and what-ifs.

Another person, Sean Logan, has been given the memory treatment also, after he lost his SEAL comrades and his right arm while he was activated. The treatment has made healing difficult for Sean also.

The parental advice hits the nail on the head: “We need our parents to love us without condition, without logic, and beyond reason.” This is true for a person to be able to grow up with a strong self-esteem and would be ideal for all of us. The hypocritical statement made by the therapist about his own children soon after telling Jenny’s father to let his anger go, feels very selfish and one-sided. “If we can’t protect our own children, we are wretched.” Sad to say, the world is a big place and we can’t be with our children 24/7 and that is very hard on parents who want to be there for their children.

A lot of food for thought and the tables keep turning in this psychological thriller!