Published by Harlequin Teen on 5/17/16
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Social Issues, Physical & Emotional Abuse
My content rating: YA (Some sexual situations described, Abuse)
For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.
Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.
It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.
This book gave me every single one of the feels. All of them – it was both beautiful and horrifying at the same time. Armentrout takes us on a journey with her characters – these people who have been broken and beaten down and simply want to reach past their pain toward hope. But change doesn’t come easy and sometimes hope can be elusive, especially when you’ve spent a lifetime without it. This book drew me in and never let me go!
What Fed My Addiction:
- Finding healing after the pain of abuse. Mallory and Rider’s story was filled with horror. They fell through the cracks of a system meant to help them – a system that too often ignored its cracks. Their foster mother was an addict and their foster father was abusive. Rider spent his childhood shielding Mallory from the physical repercussions, but he couldn’t protect her completely from the impact of their father’s wrath. Mallory learned as a child that the best way to avoid ire was to be silent, but that silence was hard to let go of, even when she was finally in a safe environment. Now, years later, Mallory fought to speak out – in any way at all (she celebrated even short responses to questions) – every word was a struggle for her, but she was determined to find her way past the pain of her childhood. When she found Rider, she was amazed that he was there – that he was whole, that he was relatively unscathed. But she learned that not all scars are visible and Rider buried his deep. I celebrated with Mallory and Rider in their victories and felt their pain – their story was poignant and beautiful and utterly heartbreaking!
- The romance. I feel like I could almost just stop at that last bullet point because most everything I loved about this book can be summed up with that, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the romance between Mallory and Rider. I was a bit torn at first (as was Mallory) because Rider did have a girlfriend. You couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for her because there was no way that she could override a lifetime of connection between Mallory and Rider. But I appreciated the way the story unfolded – first off, Rider didn’t cheat and he was honest with both Mallory and his girlfriend. Things between Mallory and Rider were complicated at first because it was hard for them to sort out romantic feelings vs. a connection born from a painful past, but it became evident pretty quickly that these two were drawn to each other in more than just a friendly way. But they didn’t jump right into anything. Oh, and I also LOVED that this book represented teen sex in a responsible manner and showed that not every couple needs to immediately sleep together (but it didn’t turn sex into something bad – just something special). Plus, yay for teens who show restraint when no protection is available!
- Fleshed out secondary characters. I fell in love with the secondary characters in this book, too. First off, there were Rider’s foster brothers, Jayden and Hector – LOVED both of them, and some things play out with them in intensely painful and touching ways. Then there was Mallory’s best friend, who constantly supported her and was her greatest cheerleader – but she was also very real and occasionally encouraged her friend to rebel a little (as teenagers often do!).
- Non-traditional families. While this book didn’t necessarily paint a pretty picture of all foster care, it did also show the positive side to it as well. Both Mallory and Rider eventually found families who treated them like family (though Rider had a hard time accepting that role sometimes). And Mallory’s adoptive parents loved her with all their hearts – but they weren’t perfect. (As an adoptive mom, I appreciate both sides of that coin being showed.) I loved the relationship Mallory had with her parents and thought it was fantastic that she was honest with them even when it was hard (well, most of the time – she is a teenager, not an angel).
What Left Me Wanting More:
- Nada. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. It was a little long? But I loved pretty much every minute of it, so that can hardly be held against it … Nope. I got nothing.
In conclusion, you should read this book. Like, seriously, go read it now. I easily give this one 5/5 stars and I’m seriously considering adding it as an All-Time Favorite!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About Jennifer L. Armentrout:
# 1 New York Times and International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.
She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.