FIVE STARS (Not allowed to rate it with more!)
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse Nuttall on behalf of Kindle Friends Forever.
It’s extremely difficult to put a star rating on a MASTERPIECE! This outstanding read has been a hard lesson for me since I was ignorant to the fact that this illness not only has an immense physical and mental impact on the person that has to fight it, but also how their loved ones manage to cope with it. The author’s sensitivity, her knowledge and ability to describe both protagonists’ feelings will leave you breathless and is nothing less than admirable. Every minuscule detail is relevant in this angst-ridden book and regardless of whether or not you’re sobbing your heart out, it will have bring out the strength in you to carry on reading.
Even though Austin Carillo is from the wrong side of town, he’s responsible and adores ‘sua famiglia’. I just adored the way the author has subtly integrated the Italian language into the story giving all the family members’ backgrounds such authenticity. He hasn’t got time for gals or socializing because he’s too busy trying to hold his family’s fragile infrastructure together, playing football and studying. His mother, Chiara, is terminally ill and needs expensive treatment which has to be paid for. The money that comes into the household is earned dishonestly and going to cause considerable friction between his oldest brother, Axe, and himself. When Austin finds out that his youngest brother, Levi, has been dragged into the Heighters gang, he goes apes**t! Austin is sooo sensitive. This young man’s personal story is heart-rending. He’s far too proud for his own good, and won’t listen to Rome, his best friend who plays quarterback on the same team and consequently, Austin carries all the family obligations on his shoulders. Despite the fact that Axe is convinced his method of overcoming their plight is a pushover and berates his brother for being so righteous, Austin does all in his power to control a situation that is spiralling out of control.
“I’m keeping this famiglia going, not you, superstar.”
Oooh Lexi! If my heart broke in two for Austin, it was literally shattered to smithereens when Lexi’s story unfolds. You will discover why Lexi confesses her true feelings to someone very dear to her heart by the only way she knows how; writing in her diary. And you will comprehend why she has this disorder, why she hides behind outrageously heavy makeup and sloppy clothes all in due course. But there’s an inner voice constantly persecuting her which she has to fight against.
“The temptation of the inner voice… the desperate temptation to go back there, to freely give over the reins.”
Does this beautiful soul have the strength to ward off something so harmful? She cheers for the same team that Austin and Rome play for and she’s good. However, she wants to be better, more beautiful, and show her best friends that she’s a true friend and team member, too. Wait and see if they eventually see through the façade she has so carefully erected around her slight frame; her vulnerable state of mind.
“…standing in the pouring fall rain, I felt a piece of my soul die.”
If there were ever two opposites in life, this is Lexi and Austin! Circumstances draw them together but those very circumstances could pull them apart. They are without a doubt, made for each other. Their connection is more than body and soul, it’s celestial. These two wonderful protagonists who are in desperate need of being saved will become one another’s saviours.
“Breathe deep. Be strong. Be brave.”
I can honestly say that I have never read a story that has emotionally affected to the point that I had to cry help to another blogger. Thank you Jo for your little nudge! Much appreciated. I took a deep breath and carried on to be absolutely overwhelmed and was left with the biggest smile on my face. What a fan-freakin’-tastic read. I am lost for words to describe how well Ms Cole has written this story. The development of all the characters and storyline is beyond perfection. Thank you so much for sharing your talent. Bravo!