By: Courtney Stevens
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does. When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
This is the kind of book that's important, but that I don't read often. Mostly because it's contemporary and I have a difficult time getting into that genre. I decided to read it because this IS a genre that I feel I ignore too often and I heard great reviews from people I trust. And I was not disappointed. This book completely brought me inside the story. I felt for the characters. I was invested in their stories.
These characters felt so genuine. They had motive and realistic emotion throughout the entire story. I felt for Alexi and Bodee and everything they went through. I loved all the little details of characterization as well as the broad-stroke aspects of character. These things made it feel that much more real to me. I feel like I know these characters, like they're friends. Besides relatability and heart, these characters are so important.
This is very much a slow plot, a character-driven plot. That works so well for this story. It's about Alexi dealing with things, letting people in, letting Bodee in. I was reluctant because I wasn't sure how a supposed romance could work well into a story like this and not be problematic. I was hoping it wouldn't be a he-loves-me-so-everything-is-fine type deal. But it didn't feel like that to me at all. They were friends, they were slowing letting each other in. They both had things that needed to be worked out in their life. It was a slow progression, it was careful and tentative and just what they each needed.
This book is important. It deals with the importance of never victim-blaming, of being there for people when and how they need you. It gives an important voice to people who have suffered abuse. And, while I haven't read many books in this subgenre to compare it to, I think this book offered a unique perspective. It focused on finding the right people, the people who won't take but give, to help you through your pain. The issues were handled with sensitivity and emotion in a really beautiful way.
"There are no words to the music, and that makes me sad. Every song deserves lyrics. Deserves a story to tell."
"...I love my family, but it seems that I'm always with people I don't know how to talk to when I feel the saddest."
"Right now we're both yard sales of emotions. A penny for pain. A dime for bitterness. A quarter for grief. A dollar for silence. It binds us together, but I don't want him to pay the price for the parts of me that are used and broken."
"This thing with Bodee is shaped with expectations, but they're easy. And right. Like when I hold one of my stone carvings or a piece of pottery in progress and can tell I'll like the artwork. Even when it's not quite complete. Friends."
"The choice is mine, I realize. I can be the bird clinging to a windowsill in Tennessee when all my friends are in Florida, or I can be the bird who flies away. I can be free.
"That is another idea ingrained in me...To understand that telling what has already happened is not retaliation. To see the difference between suffering the consequences and taking an eye for an eye."