Release Date: May, 2012
Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this ‘breath of life’ she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It’s a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren’t enough, she’s now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia’s not exactly the best role model for. If she can’t figure out a way to help her, Julia’s going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.
The problem is that Julia is suffering from her own loss – she feels responsible for the death of her companion Derek (something like a boyfriend, but that word doesn’t really cover a relationship that’s spanned hundreds of years!). Julia has to face her own demons before she can truly help Marcy, but getting past the death of the love of her life seems like an impossible goal.
- A few vague details. It seemed to me like there were a few holes in Julia’s backstory. The synopsis implies that a Sary’s sole job is to help people who are considering suicide (and that’s implied a few times in the story as well), but when we flash back to Julia’s past assignments, they seem to be centered on war – she was a nurse, helping to care for those who were injured in one. So, I think that their job was basically to help people, not necessarily just to help in suicide situations. But I wish it had been spelled out a little more clearly because I found myself confused a couple of times. Also, since it had been over a hundred years since Derek had died, I was a little unclear as to why Julia was just worried now about not being to help people because of her inability to get over his death. Had she completed past assignments just fine? It may have been the proximity to where Derek had died that was really causing her so much pain – again, I wished that would have been spelled out more if that was the case. But these were really details – they didn’t mar the overall story for me much.
- The unfolding of Julia and Derek’s story. I was completely engaged in the mystery of what had happened to Derek. Because the story unfolds throughout the book, I found myself constantly eager to keep reading and to learn more! Julia and Derek were wonderful together, which was bittersweet since you knew from the beginning how their story ended. I had all sorts of guesses about how Derek may have died (it’s stated at the beginning that the Sary are immortal!), but I was really surprised when I found out what really happened. Derek’s parts of the story were definitely my favorite!
- Marcy’s storyline. I thought that this book did a great job of dealing with the issue of suicide and how someone’s life can spin out of control. I really felt for her – how she had to deal with the loss of her mother and then the essential loss of her father too when he turned to alcohol to drown his sorrow. And then there was her crazy ex-boyfriend. I thought that Houston did a great job of realistically portraying that relationship – Marcy’s ex was bad news, but he would try to turn on the charm in order to get her back. And, since he blamed Julia for the fact that Marcy dumped him, he showed his true colors to her pretty much all the time. I loved that Julia didn’t just view Marcy as an assignment – she really cared about her and wanted so much to help her. You could tell that Julia truly ached for Marcy and just wanted to help ease her pain. Isn’t that what friendship is all about?
- Julia’s demons (and Edison). It’s Edison (who mysteriously appears in Julia’s life) who really makes Julia face her guilt and her anguish over what happened to Derek. I loved the emotional arc of this book and thought that Houston did a wonderful job with drawing us in to Julia’s pain. My one complaint here is that it would be almost impossible for the relationship between Julia and Edison to live up to what she’d had with Derek, but the romance between these two isn’t really central to the story, so that’s okay.
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