“Last seen leaving” Caleb Roehrig

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. Feiwel and Friends. To be published October 4, 2016.

LastSeenLeavingFlynn is devastated to find out his girlfriend, January, had been reported missing. Prying questions from the police triggered a secret he had been hiding from everyone, and his vague answers only served to convince them of his guilt. Determined to prove his innocence he starts to dig deeper into January’s disappearance but, as he reflects on their relationship, floodgates open to his own secret that will forever change his life.

Through flashbacks and the present time, readers are drawn into Flynn and January’s lives as the author did a good job implicating various characters in the crime. I thought I knew who was guilty, but was fooled many different times.

Despite good clues in the whodunit portion, I found inconsistencies that were problematic. Would a 19-year-old be able to date a 15-year-old without anyone blinking an eye? Would the two of them be able to wander in and around a rich, private school without any kind of security system? It was these and other inconsistencies that made the story much less believable, and caused me to drop its rating down to 3 stars.

Despite my questions I will recommend “Last seen leaving” for ages 14 and older because Roehrig did a good job stringing along the reader in making several characters appear to be the “bad guy.”

I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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“Baby Doll” Hollie Overton

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. To be published July 12, 2016. Redhook Books (Hachette).

BabyDollLily and her twin sister Abby have always been attuned to each other’s feelings and thoughts, sharing unspoken pacts to always be there for each other. When 16-year-old Lily was kidnapped and held as a sex slave for 8 years, their lives were turned upside down. During those 3,110 days of captivity, Lily gave birth, bore numerous beatings, and learned to be a perfect Baby Doll. Despite his attempts to make her forget, she drew strength from memories of her family, and used that strength to escape the night her captor got careless.

Told through the voices of Lily, Abby, her mother, and her kidnapper, “Baby Doll” takes readers on a roller coaster of emotions as we learn what Lily endured during her 8 years of captivity, and the ramifications it had on her family. Lily’s freedom affects each one differently, but the revenge planned for her disobedience by Rick, her captor, brought goose bumps of horror. This psychological thriller kept me on the edge of my seat, and will do the same for you.

Highly recommended for Adults.

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“All the Rage” Courtney Summers

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. ARC. St. Martin’s Griffin. Published April 14, 2015.

AllTheRageNo one believes Romy. How dare she accuse popular, well-liked, handsome Kellan of rape? Kellan’s father is the Sheriff and his mom runs a popular business in town so, since everyone knows the Turners, no one will stand for Romy’s lies.

Now officially the most hated girl at school, Romy has lost her best friend Penny, who refuses to believe Romy is telling the truth. Hoping to create a new life for herself away from the constant bullying at school Romy takes a waitressing job at an out-of-town diner, where she meets Leon. With Leon she can forget about what happened, because she can pretend to be the old Romy who existed Before Kellan.

Soon Penny goes missing and, as Romy tries to figure out what happened to her, mysteries will be revealed which will shock everyone – especially the readers.

Through “All the Rage,” Summers reveals the terrible truth of date rape, and shows why women who are forced to keep silent should, instead, be screaming out in anger. A copy of “All the Rage,” along with Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” and Colleen Clayton’s “What happens next,” should be required reading in every high school.

Highly recommended for High Schoolers.

“Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility” Mary McManus

Rated 4 stars **** 2014. Createspace. 236 pp.

ComingHomeMary McManus incorporates memories, as well as present-time events, to tell the story of her life after contracting polio at the age of five. Despite recovering from this disease she faced years of physical, mental and emotional abuse from her parents and grandmother.

Over the years the stresses brought on by these abuses accumulated in her body causing severe physical problems, and resulting in a diagnosis of post-polio syndrome when Mary was just a few years away from retirement. Physicians and therapists at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, as well as other health caregivers, worked together to give Mary the spiritual, physical and emotional strength she needed to heal her body from its trauma.

Determined to do something meaningful with her newfound feeling of mental and physical strength, Mary decided to run the 2009 Boston Marathon to raise money for Spaulding Rehab. Triumphantly crossing the finish line of the marathon was just one of Mary’s many accomplishments described in “Coming Home,” as she valiantly worked to regain the person she had lost at the age of five and rewrite her past.

Mary is a fellow member of my running club, the L Street Running Club in South Boston. After reading her self-published life story, I have to salute the courage and strength she displayed in working through extreme trials which a young girl should have never had to endure, and which led to the beautiful and generous person she has become today. Mary, you are a survivor and I salute you!

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know I try not to read self-published books because of the amount of grammatical errors usually contained within them. However, since Mary was generous enough to donate part of the proceeds of her book to a reputable charity, and is a fellow club member, I felt I should read her book and learn about her story. I was able to put aside my editing hat and read Mary’s story for its rawness and truthfulness. I gave it a 4 star rating for its content, and trust you will agree when you read it.

Recommended for Adult readers.

“Pretty Girl-13” Liz Coley

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins). 350 pp. (Includes “Afterword” and “Author’s Note.”)

PrettyGirl-13Angie Chapman came home from her girl scout camping trip and was shocked to find out she’d been gone for 3 years. She can’t understand why she doesn’t remember this timeframe, and won’t believe her parents when they insist she is 16 years old. Gradually Angie finds out she has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and has blocked out her life for the past 3 years.

With the help of a therapist Angie struggles to piece together what happened over these lost years, but facing reality becomes more and more difficult. All she wants to do is to forget what happened in that little cabin out in the woods, but her inner selves won’t allow it. As memories from her personalities begin to be revealed, Angie’s fears and secrets threaten to overwhelm her. It will take great strength, determination and courage to keep her head above water, as well as love and acceptance from friends and family. As Angie discovers why these people came to live inside her head, she gradually realizes they each had a role to play in shaping her life and that without them, she wouldn’t be alive.

“Pretty Girl -13” takes an unflinching, dark, raw, honest, eye-opening look at the effects of DID on the person who is experiencing these multiple personalities as well as its effects on their loved ones. Coley has painstakingly done her research into this disorder, and “Pretty Girl -13” is the magnificent result.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

“What happens next” Colleen Clayton

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published October 9, 2012. Poppy (Little, Brown and Company). 310 pp.

Sixteen-year-old Sid expected to have a great time on her school’s weekend ski trip. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to ski. When she met Dax, a handsome older guy who seemed to really like her, she decided to sneak out to meet him for a party. However, when she woke up the next morning, she couldn’t remember anything that had happened. Gradually she realized that she had been drugged and raped. In her efforts to forget what had happened she lied, shut everyone out of her life, became obsessed with running at all hours of the night and day so she could lose weight and redo herself, stopped eating, and became bulimic.

When her life was threatening to spiral out of control, she met Corey. “Stoner Guy” had been arrested in the past, and was someone to fear, but Sid found him to be funny and caring. Despite her feelings for him, and the passage of time, she still couldn’t bring herself to tell him or anyone else what had happened. With her secret slowly destroying her, it was only a matter of time before things took a turn for the worse.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak,” Melinda couldn’t talk about what happened when she was raped and, instead, expressed herself through art. In “What happens next” Sid also couldn’t speak about her rape and expressed herself through running and purging herself of food to rid her mind from thinking. Both are important novels to have in high school and public libraries, as they show similar ways of young teens dealing with losing an important part of themselves, and could be used as anchors towards reality for those going through similar circumstances. “What happens next” helps them realize life can go on.