Author: A. Meredith Walters
Release Date: March 17, 2014
Genre: New Adult
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Amazon UK
Purchase: Amazon CA
Purchase: Amazon AU
Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.
Ellie Mccallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.
Particularly Freaky Flynn.
Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.
But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.
And moved on.
Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.
When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.
And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.
But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.
The town of Wellsburg, West Virginia was dying a slow and painful death. And I was trapped inside. This ship would be taking me down with it.
I’ve been avoiding writing this review for a few days now because this is the type of story that just needs to marinate within you. It has been engrained so deep in my soul, these characters will never leave. I’m not exaggerating when I state that this book has profoundly affected me. Rendered me speechless. Left me conflicted with emotion. Hopeful for the future, yet despondent for the past. This is the type of story that only comes along once in a lifetime and I will go so far as to preemptively state best book of the year! As I sat here this morning making graphics for my post I found myself becoming overwhelmed with emotion once again. I cannot think about this story without having that that reaction; it’s that powerful!
If it’s true that eyes are the windows to your soul, I knew that mine held no possibility for goodness.
Anything good has been killed a long time ago.
Full disclosure: you aren’t going to like the main female character Ellie. In fact, at many points throughout the book you are going to downright hate her. Even now, having finished the story, I am not sure how I feel about her. I’m extremely conflicted and that’s never happened with a character before. That being said, it’s a complete love-hate conundrum of epic proportions. Because while part of me hates her, a large part of me also is completely in love with her and understands why circumstances made her the way she is. I get it, I do, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Ellie is going to be a hard character for most to accept. But I will tell you this; when you DO accept her, all her flaws and insecurities and self-destruction, you are privy to something so completely beautiful you fear you’ll go blind from her light. And at the heart of her core, that is what drives Ellie; a childhood riddled with abuse and abandonment has left her striking out before anyone else can strike her first. She cuts through you with her words and actions, leaving you writhing on the ground in the midst of an emotional tornado. Ellie is stuck and has accepted it begrudgingly. She’s trudging through life stuck in the mud, struggling to grasp the quicksand. And when all hope seems lost, someone comes along with a proverbial shovel.
Pummeled by real life. She stopped dreaming. She stopped thinking big. She accepted. Like we all eventually did.
They say misery loves company. And we were the best company each other had.
Flynn was just…there aren’t adequate words to fully describe how simple yet eye-opening of a character he was. When I say that this book will literally bring you to your knees, it all starts and ends with this young man. You see, Flynn has Asperger’s Syndrome, and for those of you not familiar with it, you are in for an awakening. Most of this book is in Ellie’s POV, but in some glimpses of the past we are gifted with what was running through his mind. Those rare moments when we view his thought process, I’m telling you. They are going to break you. Decimate you. Leave you unable to do anything else for the foreseeable future. Flynn wasn’t a complex character by any normal standards, in fact he was pretty cut and dry. But he had emotions and feelings that no one could begin to understand. The way he processed situations and viewed life in such a cut and dry way; it was awe-inspiring. His ability to forgive and accept people at face value is a lesson that we could all do to learn and improve upon. I pride myself on accepting everyone as they are, faults and all, and I don’t know that I could forgive what he had to endure. He is certainly a much stronger person that I could ever wish to be. Knocked down again and again, disappointment after heart breaking disappointment, yet he keeps getting back up. This was a young man with a pure soul, no matter how hard life tried beating it out of him.
He has always let me leave.
I realized I was more than a little resentful about that.
Because just once I’d like someone to ask me to stay. I needed to feel wanted.
The relationship between Ellie and Flynn was not one of any conventional standards. Secret friends in high school and then separated for six years; they come back together at a point in their lives when they both needed it the most. You are delivered a bombshell at the beginning of the story and the remainder is a build up to that revelation. I wasn’t sure how the story was going to end, but in my eyes, it didn’t really matter. This was one of those rare tales where they only thing of importance was the journey. That is extremely rare for me to find in a book and just another of the many reasons I fell so hard. This was a journey of forgiveness, acceptance, and finding yourself. It was a journey of healing. It was a journey of realizing that maybe, just maybe, the universe will throw you a life raft and you aren’t destined to repeat the mistakes of your past. Quite possibly there could be more for you on the horizon, a light you not only never knew existed but you never fathomed was a even a possibility. The ease in which Flynn accepts Ellie brought tears to my eyes. He accepted her, from day one, for what she was. He saw through her tough exterior to the heart inside. And while she resisted, Ellie was no match for herself or Flynn. The heart wants what the heart wants, and fate cannot be denied. People are brought into our lives for a reason, sometimes briefly, and sometimes to help us realize our true self. Everything else is just noise.
I had held onto my bitterness and anger for so long it had become a part of me. If I let it go I wasn’t sure what I’d be left with.
This isn’t an easy read, in fact it took me three days versus the one that books usually take me. But that was because I simply didn’t want it to end. I savored each and every drop of pain, of redemption, of love. I lapped them up as my soul splintered and was pieced back together. There are some ugly truths that come to light and will really open your eyes. This is a thought provoking book and one that will evoke emotions in you that you didn’t know existed. Let me reiterate; this is a MUST read. Not only the best of the year, but quite possibly one of the best books I have EVER read! I cannot recommend it enough to each and every person I come into contact with. If you read no other books this year, while highly unlikely, make it this one. You will come out on the other side changed; I know I did. I don’t give these out often or blindly, but this book deserves it. My ‘so nice I rated it twice’ 10 STARS rating! As much as I loved her Find You in the Dark series, this far surpasses it, which is a feat I didn’t know was possible.
I loved him.
I had never loved anyone before but now I loved him with my whole being.
It split me open.
My guts spilled out on the floor at Flynn’s feet.
He owned me. Completely.
There was no coming back from this.
Flynn had reclaimed me.
There was no disappearing. There was no denying what this was.
It was love.
Pure and simple and completely complicated love.
The need to tell him burned my throat, my eyes glassing over with unshed tears as he pressed into me.
But I kept silent. Because words weren’t necessary. The truth was in the way we touched. The way we moved. The way our eyes never looked anywhere but at each other.
Speaking it out loud would only encumber the honesty that couldn’t be communicated with words.