I love nothing more than a book that grips you from the very first page and holds your attention to the very last. This story was not what I expected it to be at all. It had me from the get-go and now I want MORE!
Claire is a young woman with more emotional baggage than any average twenty-year-old. She carries so many nightmares from her childhood that haunt her even when she’s awake, giving her brief episodes of total disassociation from reality that she has no control over. Her only coping mechanism against anxiety and emotional distress is meditation, something she does as often as possible, anywhere and everywhere. It numbs her mind, offering her an effective escape from reality and the scars from her past, as well as short-term relief. But her issues are never really dealt with properly, they are simply pushed away deeper into her mind, never knowing when they would suddenly resurface again.
“When I meditate, I become someone better. I’m not this person who’s made a million mistakes; the kind of mistakes that will haunt me for a lifetime. I’m not the person who should be lashed for all the awful, selfish decisions I’ve made over the last year… When I meditate, I’m the new Claire.”
Claire is starved for love. The loss of her mother’s love when she was very young left a void in her heart that she filled with her first love and her foster mother at the time, but now she is alone again and unknowingly starving for love. That is why she falls for Adam and accepts his love so readily and so quickly shortly after meeting him. She is predisposed to love, she loves easily and she loves unconditionally because that is the kind of love she craves the most.
Her relationship with Adam, her next-door neighbour, starts reluctantly, but light-heartedly. Adam pursues her stubbornly and persistently, their humorous banter lighting up entire scenes between them. While they are both damaged individuals with their own secrets and their own crosses to bear, the dynamic between them is equally fun as it is intense, loving and supportive. I love the idea of two broken people healing each other and in their case it works perfectly. With love comes trust, with trust comes sharing of each other’s demons, and with sharing their bond grows.
But secrets rarely stay hidden and when they come back, they come back with a bang. Everything changes and Claire finds herself having to choose between her past and her future.
“With every choice you risk the life you would have had. With every decision you lose it.”
An extremely emotional and well-paced story that unfolds slowly, peeling off its layers one by one, building the whole picture for the reader gradually rather than all at once. Very serious themes are brought into this picture and, as it stands, the story is full of holes, both in plot as well as character development, but since this in only the first book of the series, it is not unusual to be given only hints of what would be resolved much later.
Even with that in mind, I had some reservations about what behaviour is perceived as being “in love” but I am giving the story the full benefit of the doubt in light of its sequels. Some themes need to be threaded with carefully, never negligently and possibly with greater detail and clarification in order to avoid misunderstandings regarding what is intended to be a character’s trait and what is meant to be a flaw. There is a subtle theme of violence that we get quick glimpses of which made me uneasy at times but I have no objections about it as long as it gets developed properly in future instalments and its presence makes greater sense for the development of the characters and the overall storyline. There were a few scenes in the story that made me stop, shake my head and say, “This is NOT OK!!”, but I am hoping they were just an introduction to what is now brushed on but dealt with appropriately later on. For instance, a hot-cold personality must be addressed with care, the very nature of its volatility is a sensitive topic, and I hope it is in no way used as an example of what being in love really looks like. Themes such as bad temper, anger, predisposition to violent outbursts must be tackled sensitively and carefully, never recklessly or in an admiring fashion, no matter what the motivation behind them is meant to be. Perhaps giving a voice to other characters as well, not just our heroine, might make us understand those characters better.
We are left with an unfinished story but in a happy place. The next instalment is Pieces of You and I cannot wait to see where the story will takes us. I have become engaged in the storyline and totally invested in the characters, having clear preferences in regards to how the story should end, but I await anxiously to see it unfold one way or another.
“I came here for you and believe me when I say that I won’t stop until I get you back.”