Author: Rachel Coker
Source: ARC provided by Zondervan via Net Galley.
Publish Date: 1st March 2012.
I hereby award this book 5 wings!
I came across this book whilst browsing the catalogue on Net Galley. It sounded unlike anything I had read before so I sent the publisher my request for it. Let me tell you, I am very glad I did. This story was indeed unlike anything I have read previously. It stands apart from the normal YA books that I read.
I knew going into this book that the author Rachel Coker is only young, 15 years old I believe. But what I didn't expect was how maturely and beautifully a woman so young could write. I was pleasantly taken by surprise by that fact.
This story took me back to a time before I was born. A time I have only been able to learn about during history lessons at school and by watching documentaries on the television. I can honestly say that I am glad not to have been born before or during the war. It must have been one of the hardest things to live through. I only experienced how it must have felt whilst reading this book and that alone was enough for me. It made me realise how lucky I am to have what I have and live the life that I do.
At the tender age of just fourteen, Allie feels responsible for everything because her mother has brain cancer and forgets things, places and people. It's a harsh way for Allie to have to live her life. She has had to grow up fast due to the decline in her mothers health.
Sam is her best friend. He's followed her round since childhood. He's always there, even when she wishes he wasn't.
It's during one of Sam's visits that her mother takes a turn for the worse. So Allie harshly blames him for the fact that she passes away. When I read this, I was sad for Sam because I could see that it wasn't his fault and I was angry at Allie for blaming him and pushing him away when all he wanted to do was be a good friend and be there for her. It honestly made a lump form in my throat.
Due to Allie's mother's passing, she must move away. A lady from an adoption agency turns up and tells her to pack a bag because she must leave. This hurts Allie as her mother or Mama as she calls her, has always been the only family she has known. Her father walked out when she was young and so now to have to move away from her home and her life, makes Allie sad and depressed. Who can blame her really? She's had a hard enough start to her life without having to go and start afresh somewhere else.
Now Allie lives with Miss Beatrice, her adopted mother. She is introduced to Irene, Miss Beatrice's daughter and immediately feels like an outsider. This woman isn't her mother, Irene isn't her sister, this isn't her life. But it is and she will have to get used to it. There is nothing to be done to bring her mother back and there is no escaping the fact that she needs to start over.
I felt a lot of empathy for Allie. I relate to how hard her life must have been. I know I haven't been through what she has but it's easy to imagine whilst reading that you are actually Allie and her emotions are yours. There's ups, there's downs, there's times you just want to grab her and shake her. You want to tell her to wake up and be nicer to Beatrice and others around her. Allie could be such a marvellous young lady and indeed in her heart she is. She just isn't able to see things clearly. Her mother always told her that religion was for superstitious fools. So Allie doesn't even have God to turn to in her times of need. She really feels all alone. But she wouldn't be if only she were more open to people. If she let people into her life, her heart, she would see that life is what you make it. If you make it hard, it's hard. If you make it happy, it's happy.
This is a beautiful story about a young girl who hasn't had the easiest of starts to her life and now must carve out a new niche for herself in this new life. She has a hardness to her that is easily imaginable because of her past. But will she ever mellow? Will she settle down and get used to the life before her? Or will she always rebel against it?
I loved this book from the moment I picked it up. I got easily carried away into this life of a teenager during the war. I always enjoy a book when the author can put me inside the head of the main character. This was no exception. I honestly look forward to more novels from Rachel Coker. She is a brilliant budding young author and I can only imagine that as her career progresses, she will become a best-selling author. She certainly has the makings of one.
Thank you to Rachel for creating such an extraordinary novel. Thank you also to Zondervan and Net Galley for providing me with this galley.
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