A YA story about surviving child abuse, about learning that everyone is worthy of love, and about the strength of forgiveness.
Henry grew up in school with Kate. He fell in love with her on the first day of kindergarten when she befriended him, and with a big smile, made him feel welcome and since then they became best friends. Until, one summer, his family moved away.
Six years later, its the senior year of high school. With an alcoholic father who is too drunk to notice that her prescrition-drug-addicted mother regularly beats and abuses her at home, and her thrift store clothes making her the target of severe and relentless bullying at school, Kate is a the subject of horrific treatment everywhere she turns. Consequently, she has withdrawn into herself, a survival mechanisn against a world where no where is safe.
When she walks into school on the first day back and sees Henry standing there, she is shocked and mortified that he’ll see what she’s becomes. Henry, however, is the same kind, caring, tender and gentle yet protective guy he always was. He’s surprised at the change in her, and does his best to earn her trust. And throughout the book we see her journey as Henry helps her heal, learn to stand up for herself, and begin to truly believe she is worthy of love.
I loved Henry’s character – what an absolute sweetheart! He was the first person to show her kindness after so many years of being shunned, abused and bullied, the first person to stand up for her, to protect her, to care for her feelings, and to love her. He was utterly devoted to her from start to finish and watching him gently lead her out of her shell by wrapping her in his love and love from his family was really beautiful.
“I’m sorry,” he says, sincerity in ever line of his body and ringing in his voice. “I’m sorry you had to go through all of that alone. I’m sorry for everything you are going through now. But I promise you one thing.” He leans back, taking my face between his hands and gazing intently into my eyes. “You will never be alone again.”
The physical abuse the Kate suffers at home is horrific and chilling. Pure, downright cruelty. And almost worse than that is seeing how she internalizes the pain and feels unworthy – if her own mother can’t love her, how can she be deserving of any love at all? It was just heart breaking to see such a sweet, shy, kind person be treated so brutally.
Throughout the book, we get to see the back story behind the abuse – why was Kate’s mom so bitter? What made her dad so detached? And we got to see the new beginnings brought about from acceptance and forgiveness.
I liked the book, but I didn’t love it despite having no specific complaints about it. It was pretty short, I read it in less than a day. The whole feeling of the book was very quiet… I know that’s a bit of a weird way to describe a book, but that’s how it felt to me. The story progressed at an unrushed pace, never making you feel like you missed any part of the story…..but I don’t know, I guess despite liking the story, I just felt a little detached from it. It did almost make me misty eyed once or twice, but it didn’t rip out my heart or make me cry ever despite the subject matter being pretty sickening at times. Still, it is a good read, and definitely worth adding to the TBR list.
The whole story is told from Kate’s POV, except for the prologue and epilogue which is told from Henry’s POV. And yes, the story does have a happy ending 🙂
It was definitely YA… very light and non-steamy (just kisses), but very sweet.
And someone asked me about this so I’ll mention that there is no sexual abuse in this story.
Henry –> Click here
Kate –> Click here