What to Read Wednesday – Where We Fell by Amber L. Johnson

This week’s recommendation is Where We Fell, by Amber L. Johnson.

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Oliver Bishop is having a seriously bad day. With one diagnosis, his life suddenly has an expiration date. Confused about the numbness he has to the idea of it, he unwittingly puts himself directly in the sights of a girl that just may give him a reason to fight – and to live. 

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

What I thought pink

Seventeen; an age when you have everything to look forward to – college, girls, and a summer of post-graduation relaxation. But not Oliver Bishop. After falling over during track, he discovers a lump in his leg, and his normal, teenage life is transformed into a blur of hospital appointments, treatments and panicking parents.

Then, one day, he walks into a local diner and is served by Hannah Hartwell, a local girl who has just finished her freshman year at college. The daughter of an oncologist and cancer survivor, she knows something is wrong, and so begins a beautiful and tender relationship with the two of them, as they come to terms with Oliver’s cancer diagnosis.

Heartbreaking at times, hopeful at others, this novella is so beautifully and whimsically written that I had to read it in one sitting. Johnson’s characterizations were perfectly formed and they made me feel I was part of the book. Even smaller characters, such as his Environmental Science teacher, are deftly carved with few words; his short-sleeve, button-down shirt and pleated khakis bringing him to life like an actor has just stepped into his clothes.

Where We Fell is a love story as well as a tale of survival, as we see the burgeoning relationship between Oliver and Hannah. And though their path isn’t smooth – it isn’t just Oliver’s diagnosis, but his reactions that make the road bumpy – it is emotional and enjoyable and pulls your heart strings in a perfect way. I particularly enjoyed reading about Oliver’s relationship with his parents, the way they were so supportive yet understanding, knowing their son was facing the fight of his life at a time when he should be fleeing the nest.

This was a little slice of perfection, wrapped with beautiful words and interesting characters. I loved everything about it, and have no hesitation in awarding five, perfect stars.

NB: This book will be published on 28th October.

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What to Read Wednesday

This week’s recommendation is Present, Perfect by Alison G. Bailey.

Present Perfect by Alison G Bailey

Amanda Kelly spent her entire life trying to control every aspect of it, while striving for perfection. Her obsession with being perfect, along with her feelings of worthlessness, consumed her. The one thing she thought was perfect in her life was the bond she shared with her best friend, Noah. 

Everything was going according to her life plan until she woke up one day and realized she had fallen in love with him. The one thing she couldn’t control was the affect he had on her. Noah had the power to give her one hundred lifetimes of happiness, which also gave him the power to completely devastate her. He was the one thing in her life that was perfect, but she couldn’t allow herself to have him.

Her life begins to unravel. Events take over and force her to let go of her dreams and desires. She needs to realize that a person cannot control the events in their life, only their reaction to them…but will it be too late for her to save her relationship with her best friend?

Present Perfect is a story of how past events have present consequences and how perfect your present could be if you stopped fighting and just allowed it to happen.

 What I thought pink

Amanda is constantly compared to her older sister who can do everything better; ride bikes, get good grades and of course, is so much prettier. Even worse, she is a kind, lovely person. I’m already feeling sorry for Amanda, whose desperate strives for perfection always fall short.

From the start of the book, the author takes on a journey of growing up as the less-perfect sibling. From being dressed as Tweety-Pie for Halloween at the age of six, to being described as ‘ugly’ by the mean girls at school, everything that happens to Amanda seems to confirm her low opinion of herself. The one shining light in all of this teenage angst is her best friend, Noah.

Oh, Noah …

He’s a baseball playing, sensitive gorgeous boy who becomes Amanda’s self-appointed protector, taking care of her when life gets her down, and standing between her and teenage lotharios when they try to get too close.

Despite the fact he loves Amanda, she can’t bring herself to see them as anything more than friends. The author describes the angst of being a teenager so perfectly; the belief that nobody can love you when you don’t love yourself, that you just aren’t good enough for the boy of your dreams.

That a friendship isn’t worth ruining over a quick fling.

So Amanda pushes Noah away. More than once. And I had to bite my nails, my lips, and then put my hands under my behind to stop myself from shaking this imaginary character. Because he loves her, he loves her and she just can’t see it.

And there I go again – getting all het up!

Up to this point, the story seemed like a well-written, enjoyable NA story. Then, about two thirds into the body of the novel, we get to the game changer. The one I can’t tell you about, but the one that makes Amanda see things oh, so differently. This part of the book deserves six or more stars – it grabbed my heart, chewed it up and then spat it out on a dirty sidewalk. It made me think about the story long after I’d finished the final page, and made me want to cuddle my husband and children all night.

Overall, I give this story five stars. Four for the first part, then a huge six plus for the rest. Go read it, enjoy it, and wipe the tears off your face. It’s worth every one.