PURCHASE THE BOOKAmazon│Kobo│Barnes and Noble
This is a profound, yet brutally relevant coming-of-age story that chronicles deeply disturbing moments in Benji’s life. Told in first person, the reader will walk right alongside Benji, witnessing every moment and feeling every troubling emotion. It’s incredibly difficult not to be gripped from the very beginning, yet so many tragic circumstances surround this family that I often found myself taking breaks just to process the intensity of it all. Gritty subject matter abounds in this story: sexual assault, suicide, teen pregnancy, bullying, and divorce. These topics do not lend themselves to easy reads obviously; however, reading Benji’s story is certainly worth every uncomfortable moment, and the author handles each with incredible grace, thoughtfulness, and with an authentic voice that will resonate with the young readers it needs to reach.
“You can’t control everything around you – or even how others treat you – but you can control how you react. And that’s how you take back your power.”
Though Benji finds herself facing one devastating circumstance after another, readers will begin to see a mirror that reflects back their own harrowing experiences and individual responses to each event. They may not be similar, but unfortunately, no one is immune to bad things happening to them, and many often find themselves on the receiving end of one awful moment after another. Benji learns far too early about this gruesome reality, but the decisions she makes afterwards provide readers with the opportunity to safely discuss their own reactions. These issues are not pleasant to talk about, but not talking about them is not going to make them go away. Communication is important, and while it may not have changed events from occurring, it certainly gives us someone to reach for when it feels like there is nothing or no one left. The story is extremely thought-provoking and calls on readers to examine their own ideas on empathy, compassion, and connection.
“Be kind to everyone you meet, you don’t know what they’re facing at home.”
This story certainly paints a realistic portrait of the after effects of a trauma in regards to relationships with family and friends as well as to the body itself. Healing is often just as hard as feeling overpowered and overwhelmed. Benji’s vulnerability sheds light on this painful process towards reconciliation with not only herself, but those around her as well.
Overall, this powerful story is tragic and tender. Along with Benji, I never stopped feeling something – sadness, frustration, anger, concern, shock, pain, surprise, and eventually, hope, and I doubt you will either.