Thursday, September 1, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Release Date: October 1st, 2010
Publisher: CreateSpace
Page Count: 345
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Novel Publicityin exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!!)

Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler—until their daughter, Leah, decides to actively destroy her own future.

Leah grew up in a privileged upper-middle class world. Her parents spared no exprese for her happiness; she had all but secured an Ivy League scholarship and a future as a star athlete. Then she met Todd.

Leah's parents watch helplessly as their daughter falls into a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties. While Will attempts to control his daughter's every move to prevent her from falling deeper into this dangerous new life, Zoe prefers to give Leah slack in the hope that she may learn from her mistakes. Their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage.

Twelve-year-old Justine observes Leah's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family. She desperately seeks her big sister's approval and will do whatever it takes to obtain it. Meanwhile she is left to question whether her parents lover her and whether God even knows she exists.

What happens when love just isn't enough? Who will pay the consequences of Leah's vagrant lifestyle? Can this broken family survive the destruction left in Leah's wake?
What Stephanie Thinks: A family's struggle to keep themselves together and their irresponsible college-bound daughter in control is beautifully told in this debut novel. Long's writing style is absorbing and fast-paced, though the story itself drags on a bit. I would skim a few pages here and there, and constantly would find myself calculating how many pages I had left to read. This certainly will suck the joy out of a leisurely read. However, the overall plot is both lively and poignant, making it a touching story of the strength of sisterhood and turmoils of parenthood.

Each of the characters are really
fleshed out, which I love. For the most part though, they are not likable. Leah, for instance, is a girl who has it all. She's a deep and relatable character, but she's incredibly whiny, ungrateful, and melodramatic. Long creates the perfect caricature of misbehaving teenagers within her, but I don't think most teenagers behave as exaggeratedly as she does. Both the parents have good intentions, and I can tell the author created them from her personal experience. It's clear this book was written by a loving mother. Will and Zoe aren't flawless, which we learn as the plot progresses. I find Will selfish and Zoe weak, but again, that's strong characterization. I really do love Justine, though. She's so genuine, that I want her to be MY little sister!

The way children are described makes it evident that the author is an experienced mother. The topics of drugs, sex, and wild parties, however, seem to be shocking to her. They say you should write about what you know, and Long details the
obscure nit and grit rather awkwardly, but still maintains a realistic tone in her multidimensional family. Then again, it's not like only drugdealers can write edgy fiction, so I do give her props for the variety.

This almost frightening account of adolescence is stirring and thought-provoking. It piques the question of whether or not parental perfection is truly achievable, and also induces those What if? worries all mothers and fathers wonder in their lifetimes. Leah's slow, deliberate deterioration truly hits home and lingers in the mind, even once it is all over.

Stephanie Loves: "Through everything that had happened with her family this fall, through all their trials and travails, her mother's retreat into the fuzzy world of her pain pills, her family's dizzying fights, even while Leah was away, though she'd missed her sister terribly, Justine had stayed strong. Now, the tears fell, releasing all that pent-up emotion. And there was no holding back."

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥