As she struggles to move beyond a childhood of religious trauma and chronic abandonment, Trey isn't sure about people. Everywhere she looks, love has failed her. It must not exist. This book artfully unravels the secrets of her past, immersing a reader in the echoes of heartbreak as she attempts to love again and again, proving that while hope may falter, the human spirit sometimes finds a way. But it might not look like what we expect.
Trey must confront both her past and her broken heart in order to heal. Wilde’s at-times disturbing story about families, religion, abuse, rejection, and love is fast-paced, with frequent leaps in time that challenge readers to keep up. Trey’s story is often driven by anger, as she lashes out at others and plays with their emotions, but refuses any insight into herself. The physical and verbal abuse of Trey and her siblings in the childhood flashbacks are wrenching, as are frank accounts of her parents’ violent fights, Trey’s anorexia and a suicide attempt, and the rejection she’s faced for being a lesbian from her family, her church, and even Rose. Here’s a protagonist who feels dead on the inside, one who finds it easier to pretend that Rose is dead rather than married to Bobby.
More uplifting is her shaky friendship with Jonah, who excels at listening and giving heartfelt advice, and the cracks in Trey’s armor as she struggles to learn to live and trust again. Other signs of grace come as a relief, eventually giving Trey the courage to return to her hometown to confront her heartbreak and her tormentors. This is a disturbing yet uplifting study of a woman’s emergence from darkness.
Takeaway: Pained but uplifting novel of an abuse survivor feeling her way out of anger and darkness.
Comparable Titles: Jaye Viner’s Jane of Battery Park, L. Dreamer’s The Burden of Happiness.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A