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A realistic and emotionally gut-wrenching book about a young teenager being groomed by an older relative

Claire is young. So very young. This book will punch you in the gut because this story is very realistic. This story is scary and at times hard to read. In the 1980s where the novel is set, it is much more likely for a story about Claire to happen. She is somewhat isolated. The influence of the world is narrow. Claire knows what she is surrounded by and the author very cleverly sets the novel in the poorer end of a small town. Claire's home environment, her neighborhood, and her school are so well described that I can visualize her upbringing and see her story so clearly. I can understand Claire and her thought process and her confusion and changing perspective as she grows throughout this book. I feel so much for Claire and the situation that Tony has pushed her into.

The author creates so much empathy for Claire in the eyes of the reader. Claire may not be a model teenager but she is an amazing person. She is always willing to help with her younger siblings and the kids at the gym. She is hardworking and enjoys the challenge of an early morning newspaper route up hills so steep she can't always bike them. She has such strong drive and motivation. She isn't lazy or selfish. And yet she gets pulled into this terrible situation with Tony. I feel like the author manipulated me at times! I know what Tony did was very, very wrong and yet the way he groomed Claire from the very beginning made so much sense. If I was Claire, I might have made the same choices she did.

I'm so glad that the author included Frank and Luke as examples of good men and positive role models in Claire's life. Just in case the reader gets confused by Tony, there are these two shining examples of how men should be acting toward and around Claire and other kids. Because of Tony though, I kept waiting for Frank or Luke to do something wrong. The author primed me not to trust anyone in the book, that anyone could have ulterior motives.

I absolutely loved the easy camaraderie between Charly, Maddie, and Claire as well as the realistic and open conversations between the three girls.

My one complaint about this novel was the abrupt ending that wasn't satisfying to me as a reader. This book felt like part one of a two-part book and I would have preferred a clear and gratifying ending. I felt like Claire was in the middle of her transformation, that she was only partway through growing as a character when this story ended.

This book will appeal to readers who like clever and realistic portrayals of hard-to-read and emotional subjects.

Reviewed by

Hello! I'm an author and a book reviewer. I've reviewed ~400 Indie books since 2013 and just reached over 1000 blog posts since 2013! I love lists and challenges. I especially enjoy contemporary young adult books. I'm a fast reader and love spotting typos when reading ARCs.

About the author

I am a full time Mum of 3 who had an idea for a story that would also highlight some important adolescent issues. I don't have any qualifications or previous writing experience but I wanted to lead by example and demonstrate to my children that anything is possible if you focus and work hard. view profile

Published on March 08, 2021

Published by

80000 words

Contains graphic explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by