DiscoverYoung Adult

Group

By Heather E. Robyn

Worth reading 😎

A very cute book about two sisters dealing with the loss of each other in different ways.

Synopsis

Twins Jade and Pearl enjoyed high school life to the fullest. Jade, a star Lacrosse player, was set to attend Boston University in the Fall, and Pearl, the debate team captain was headed to UCLA. Senior year should have ended with memories from prom, graduation, and preparing for college, but Jade’s sudden death left the Juarez sisters facing the world without each other for the first time in their lives.
Jade is required to attend transitional support group to come to terms with her death and progress on to the next stage, but she can't remember facts about her death. Her journey to unravel these details meets her with revelations about herself she cannot fathom. She befriends Ezekiel in group who helps her understand there is more to death than just moving on.
Pearl spirals into an abyss of crushing grief and depression, until one day Jamie forces her to attend a grief support group to help pull her out of the darkness. Reluctant to attend, she meets a stranger who turns her world upside down and ignites a love she has never felt before in another man, but she wonders if it is enough for her to heal?

Twin sisters Jade and Pearl Juarez have always been inseparable. But one night, everything goes wrong. Jade dies and wakes up in a new place, unable to remember what happened to her or how she died. Pearl is left in the world of the living with no will to live, spending her days oversleeping in her room. When both girls begin recovery by attending group, they discover they are connected after all...


I thought this book was really cute, the two sisters dealing with the loss of each other in different ways, and for Jade coming to terms with the fact of being dead while worrying about her sister’s wellbeing. As for the concept of the story, it’s an interesting idea, though not fully developed; there’s a lack of explanations for any situations other than the one of the girls, which is sufficient for the telling of their story.


My one thing that I was sceptical about was the romance. With Jade it seemed more natural and developed through the sharing of their regrets from the living world. With Pearl it was more a saviour/need saving kind of relationship which I didn’t think should’ve gone romantic. I appreciate that the two couples were quite different in nature, which is good, but I did feel that only one (or none) was necessary.


As we were reading about what could be called the climax of the story, I disagreed with the author a little about the way things were done. I didn’t think that the death was necessary, especially regarding the circumstances of how it came about. It wasn’t portrayed in a great manner, and intentionally or not kind of seemed to encourage the death. Henry was also part of my problem with this, his appear aced in the story only to ask for Pearl’s forgiveness for that night.


Group is for the most part about recovering from tragedy, and moving on, but it also discusses how important it can be to have a friend in these times, and how people in a fragile emotional state may be able to connect more or even find a life. I recommend this book to anyone who likes books with teenagers, paranormal elements, loss, and romance.

Reviewed by

I've enjoyed reading since a young age and took up blogging in 2014. Reviewing books adds valuable experience to my life and the blog is also a fun way for me to express myself in my very own corner of the internet.

Synopsis

Twins Jade and Pearl enjoyed high school life to the fullest. Jade, a star Lacrosse player, was set to attend Boston University in the Fall, and Pearl, the debate team captain was headed to UCLA. Senior year should have ended with memories from prom, graduation, and preparing for college, but Jade’s sudden death left the Juarez sisters facing the world without each other for the first time in their lives.
Jade is required to attend transitional support group to come to terms with her death and progress on to the next stage, but she can't remember facts about her death. Her journey to unravel these details meets her with revelations about herself she cannot fathom. She befriends Ezekiel in group who helps her understand there is more to death than just moving on.
Pearl spirals into an abyss of crushing grief and depression, until one day Jamie forces her to attend a grief support group to help pull her out of the darkness. Reluctant to attend, she meets a stranger who turns her world upside down and ignites a love she has never felt before in another man, but she wonders if it is enough for her to heal?

ONE

“Group” the sign read. The inviting font

of Comic Sans, as if gravitating one to join a

party. It might as well have been flashing in neon

lights, too bright to ignore. Jade walked by the

sign every day since her arrival, and, every day,

it gut punched saying, “Guess what, kid, you’re

dead.” For a second, Jade tried calculating how

long she had been here. She knew she woke up

every day, she knew she traveled the corridor

and gave the sign a side-eye as she passed. Days

became a blur trying to calculate as she fidgeted

the collar of her white cotton-blend polo.

This shirt is so uncomfortable.


She always hated wearing white, the color

susceptible to filth as she had demolished endless

times before on the lacrosse field. Why her coach

chose white jerseys, she will never understand.

Jade did her usual journey through the

corridor of the newly “welcomed” housing

complex where she had been staying since her

arrival. It reminded her of the dorms at Boston

University when she toured last summer. She

dwelled in a single ten-by-ten room with a

desk, bookshelf, and twin bed. Unlike previous

days, today she stopped at the doors. Stopped

and stared. Stood there with her wavy, copper

shoulder-length hair, olive skin, and green eyes

stuck in a trance with the sign. Named for her

green eyes like the jade stone, which means good

luck, Jade didn’t feel very lucky being here at

seventeen. A new group session began today,

but like every day before, Jade challenged her

ability to step forward into the room rather than

down the hall and outside to whatever this place

is called.

“Why do you always wait long to make decisions?”

Jade heard Pearl whisper in her psyche. Pearl

played the role of her conscience growing up,

downloading words of wisdom and caution to

keep Jade on track when her rambunctiousness

kicked in. The debate team captain would be that

way. Jade wished Pearl were here now to nudge.

I could use some wisdom right now, Pearl. Such a

gap in my heart. Please guide me.

“Thinking about giving it a try today?” a

voice introjected from behind.

Jade didn’t notice Miss Adelaide standing

there, observing her like a zoologist observes

animal behavior. It reminded her of when she

volunteered at the local zoo in middle school.

Jade said nothing. Adelaide worked as Jade’s

transitional caseworker, in charge of making

sure Jade progressed through her program.

A lovely woman of Creole decent who had a

nurturing and soft way about her, Adelaide had

been murdered in her college dorm room, fall

semester of her junior year in 1973 at LSU. Her

roommate’s ex-boyfriend sought revenge for a

nasty break up and Adelaide fell into a wrong

place, wrong time scenario. Her story shocked

the community and the news deemed her the

“roommate who suffered someone else’s fate.”

She went through the same program as Jade, but

when given the choice to cross over or stay and

help the newly entered, Adelaide stayed to help

others pass through. Adelaide had a positive

reputation among staff and participants.

How good could she be? I’m still here.

“Is there anything I can do to help?”


“Some color to my room would be fabulous.

The whole gray scale theme is so tired. Even the

desk and bed frame are gray. The only color that

pops in it is my hair.”

“The color scheme is meant to keep you

calm.”

“Blue keeps me calm. So does green. Are all

the rooms this way?”

“Unfortunately, yes. We like to keep a

neutral base.”

“What a shame.”

Adelaide shook her head and snickered.

“On a serious note. Are you going to give it

a shot today?”

The words burned Jade’s brain. “It’s been

too long. You’re not leaving me with many case

notes on your progress.”

Why does she even need to keep case notes? That

and why is there even protocol implemented in the

first place? Jade was surprised by the aspects

of this place. Delightful yet cold. Somber but

friendly. No real title held the name here. Jade

remembered a sudden movement and sat in

a waiting room which replicated a physician’s

office. But she sat alone in the room. Blinding

white and sterile looking as though a wave of

bleach engulfed the room, sanitizing everything

in its path. The room screamed “don’t touch”

and she didn’t want to touch, she wanted to

understand why. The couch cushions were plush

but, to her, they felt like straw poking at her back

with uneasy tension, welcoming her to this new

and uncomfortable place.

Then she met Adelaide. Aimed to help Jade

make the transition from physical to spiritual

world, Adelaide provided daily guidance and

check ins. She explained to Jade once she

accomplished all her goals in the program, then

Jade may progress to the next level. Attending

support group was the first goal Jade had to

accomplish.

“Nah, I’m not feeling it today,” Jade

responded, once realizing Adelaide pulled her

from her trance.

“What’s holding you back?”

“Nothing. I don’t feel like it today.”

“Oooh we’s a feisty one today aren’t we.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap,” Jade

replied. “Just thinking a lot about Pearl today.

Wondering if she’s thinking of me. Every day

I pass this room with no desire to want to go

inside, but for some reason, today I feel like I

want to give it a try.”

“What’s stopping you? You’ve been standing

here for almost fifteen minutes. Group already

started, child.”

What’s stopping me?

“Nothing. Nothing is stopping me.”

She glanced over to Adelaide, catching the

enormous grin stretched across her face.

“Why are you smiling big?”

“Because you are ready.”

Jade focused back on the sign.

GROUP.

What’s stopping me? I don’t know. I’ll never know

unless I go. Fine. I’ll go.

She took a step forward this time, then

another, until she stood in an unfamiliar room

filled with a familiar scent.

Vanilla cookies. Just like grandma’s.

In the room sat seven teens and Chase. Jade

had seen Chase several times before during her

journeys down the corridor and in the garden.

He stood tall with a lanky build and long delicate

fingers. His bald head reminded Jade of her

favorite movie character growing up and couldn’t

get over the uncanny resemblance Chase had to

this character. He was exceptionally nice and

good-hearted. She continued advancing toward

the group. Dang these people are so young. How did

they die? Do they feel as lost as I do right now?

“Isn’t this such a wonderful surprise to see

you here, Jade,” Chase announced. His head

tilted to the side, a smirk painted on his face. One

thing Jade noticed about the staff were the level

of friendliness. At times, it felt nauseating, but

she could see the reason behind their behavior.

“Hello everyone,” Jade said, her left hand

raising in slow motion, stopping at her waist,

then flailing out her fingers and flapping

them. The group stared at her for a second.

Stared. Awkward.

“Why don’t you join us? We have an open

seat right here for you. Ezekiel, can you please

bring a chair up for Jade?”

“Sure, no problem,” Ezekiel responded

as he stood up and turned in Jade’s direction.

His crystal blue eyes were the first to catch her

attention. She found herself gazing fixedly

at them as Ezekiel approached. “Hello. I’m

Ezekiel. My friends call me Zeek.”

“Hi. Jade,” escaped her lips. Her hand

frozen at the hip, failing to extend to meet the

handshake. Ezekiel tilted his head to the side then

retracted his hand and proceeded to pass Jade,

picking up the spare chair sitting by the door.

Way to go, idiot.

“Jade, it’s nice to meet you. You can sit

next you me if you want,” Ezekiel responded,

knocking her tricep with his elbow as he walked

pass her and back to the circle.

Be cool, girl, be cool. Jade cleared her throat and

replied, “Sure. Thanks. Nice to meet you too.”

“Let’s continue, shall we?” Chase intruded.

“Since today is the first day of the new group

and we were all sharing how we arrived here,

let’s pick up where we left off.”

A few members were left to share their stories.

Tracy from Detroit, an innocent bystander shot

during a gang fight on her way home from

school after volleyball practice. An only child,

her mother raised her alone after her father

passed away. She was fourteen. Allister from

Connecticut lost his battle with leukemia two

weeks after high school graduation at the age of

eighteen. He received an academic scholarship

to Harvard and shared his disappointment in

not pursuing his degree in law. Cassandra (Cass

for short) died in a freak accident during a family

trip. She slipped on a rock and fell off the side of

a cliff while taking photos with her family. Her

father tried pulling her up, but she slipped from

his grip and fell to her death. She was fifteen.

Ezekiel already shared his story, so Jade

missed the opportunity. Now I regret staring at the

sign outside for so long. What happened to him? What

was he like in school? How old is he? Where did he live?

Chase turned his attention to Jade and

asked, “Jade, would you like to share your story?”

She sat staring into an oblivion on the floor

when it finally came to her. She lifted her head

up with a blank expression and looked at each

member of the group, one by one, each one

staring back at her with anticipation. Her neck

tingled as perspiration build on her forehead.

Jade looked at Chase as numbness enveloped

her mind. She took a deep breath and in a

cracked voice rattled out, “I…I…I don’t know

how I died.”

About the author

San Jose transplant via San Diego. I spent ten years in Social Work helping foster youth and homeless veterans. I enjoy traveling with my two children and exploring new activities. I frequent baseball and hockey games when my teams are in town (Go Cubs and Blackhawks!). view profile

Published on March 12, 2019

Published by Anew Press

40000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by

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