For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.
Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.
It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.
I received a free eARC copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin (UK) Limited via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
First off, can we just take a moment to appreciate this beautiful cover? I mean… it’s just ridiculously pretty.
I have to say, I basically screamed when I received the confirmation email that I would get to read this particular title before a lot of people because I have been looking forward to it for a ridiculously long time…. like, ever since it appeared as “Untitled” on her Goodreads page.
Mainly because I knew that she would not disappoint, and I wasn’t proven wrong – reading this book felt a lot like coming back to a warm and welcoming home. It was everything that you could want from a book – humour, fandom references (there was even a Hunger Games reference…that was a gem that I found particularly hilarious) and of course – all of the feels. ALL OF THEM.
It was just beautiful with the way in which it was written. Mallory was largely relatable; she was a little bit broken, and confused and I loved the fact that both of these things were deemed as being perfectly okay and normal. Not once did her family make her feel bad for anything that she was going through, and I found the bond that they had incredible – it was basically the epitome of how families should work – despite blips and downfalls, there was always a gigantic amount of love shared between them and it was wonderful.
One thing in particular that I really appreciated was how heart-wrenchingly real and understandable Mallory’s relationship with her body as well as her anxiety was. I think it showed that particular issue of our society incredibly well and I think that the slow somewhat acceptance, and character-fricking-development that Mallory went through within the course of the novel was actually quite inspiring and definitely say a huge thank you and kudos to JLA for writing that into the novel.
And of course, there was also Rider Stark… there’s a lot I could say about him, but I’m so ecstatic that JLA didn’t force him to dwell on everything he went through silently – in the “manly” way, as it is custom in our modern society because I perceive that sort of attitude as outright bullshit. Telling men that they shouldn’t cry, that they shouldn’t face their problems aloud is incredibly damaging, and I’m so glad that there wasn’t any of that in this book.
He just added so much goodness and chemistry to the story and his appearance allowed Mallory’s character to develop in so many brilliant directions. Watching their relationship unfold was an experience that I absolutely adored. There were tears, there were misunderstandings – but there was also a glorious amount of love which left me all sorts of happy about where everything was headed.
This book made me feel things. And they weren’t all good… One moment in particular had me curled up in a ball with tears streaming down my face in the most unattractive manner.
It was just so excruciating to experience… It gave me all of the feels… and I don’t think I ever completely recovered. Because that part of the book still largely haunts me with the way in which it presented the harsh reality faced by a lot of people. Particularly in America of all the places in the world.
And whilst this wasn’t the only time I cried in the book, it was probably the most painful. Probably because the others were largely told as flashbacks, and therefore didn’t have quite the same pain behind them.
I think it’s quite to safe that I adore this book in all its entirety, and I can safely say that I will be returning to it in the future; perhaps because of my masochistic tendencies to read books which make me experience so many emotions at once. It is definitely a must read and I highly encourage you to do so!
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
“Being real could hurt. Being loved could hurt. That’s what… what living is all about and the opposite is unimaginable.”