Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Sweetness by Lindsay Paige

My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Goodreads Description:
Emily wished she was invisible. But after moving to a new town with her dad, a charming boy makes it impossible for her to disappear. Despite her feelings of unworthiness, Emily soon finds herself drawn to the safety of Jake's world.

Good looking and the star of the hockey team, Jake has a lot going for him. What most people don't see is the difficult life he has at home. When quiet Emily steals his heart, Jake vows to help her discover she is worthy of love.

Just when the two of them realize the sweetness of their relationship, they are put to the test. Only together can they overcome their haunted pasts to fight for a future together.

My Review: This is a very different type of review for me. Sweetness is not paranormal, though it is young adult fiction - but once I found out that the author was a self-published, teen author (I spoke in my last post about how much I appriciate that dynamic!), I knew I had to read it anyway.
First, we meet 17-year-old, high school senior Emily. She's quiet and withdrawn, and seems to shutter with anxiety at the thought of socializing with anyone. Beaten and broken by her mother, she's swept out of the abusive household by her father and moved to a new town. When she's forcibly paired with a partner, Jake, for her school project, she just wants to get by with her head down.

Jake has other ideas.

Who is this girl? Why's she so quiet? What's she afraid of? What's hurting her?

Jake's the popular star of the hockey team, but he's also the massively parentified motherless son of a drunk, and he's practically raising his younger brother, Drake. Drake also happens to be the only person Emily is herself around, the only one she can have fun with anymore. She loves the lack of pressure, the easy fun she has with the kid. After Emily's father squeels her secrets, Jake is determined to break through Emily's walls. With Drake in tow, Jake sees the opening and inserts himself into Emily's life.
Reading this book, there is no wonder it is called Sweetness. Aside from being a nickname that Jake gives Emily, of course. There is a very sweet quaility to Jake and Emily's relationship - but there is also a lot of grit, friction, pain, push and pull. Emily has a lot more to battle than just her past.

The first thing you need to know before reading this book, is that it's a seriously heavy read: standards, abuse, peer pressure, triangles,  cheating, safe sex, life-changing mistakes, first love and real love, old flames and inner demons... what happens when pregnancy, relationships, passion, and first loves all go horribly wrong. While this is beautiful, it's kind of hard-core, so you need to be ready for a read that is going stay with you. Sit down and curl up, because you're getting a lot.

I do not recommend this book for younger readers, and my reason being this: there is quite a bit of sensuality, and this book doesn't "wimp out" - it deals with the hard stuff. Despite the sweetness, there is a bit of grit, tooth and nail. The content embraces controversial issues, which may not be appropriate for early readers. But if you're mature, and you can handle a heavy read... go forth, embark and devour!

With that aside, I loved that this was imperfect and real. Product placement marked you in Emily's world - with Drake's toys, with pizza, even with an ice cream restaurant that sounds to-die-for. I love that I actually felt for the characters! Pain isn't a word, here, it's what you feel. I love the push and pull of the relationship. I found the dynamic of the co-dependency facinating, I found it endearing both when they were passionate and when they were lost. It's not a seamless, flawless relationship - prepare for turbulance. The roadblocks of Conrad and Claire are only half of it.
Where You Can Find Lindsay Paige:


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