By Pavarti K. Tyler
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming-of-age
Chelle suffers through a life where she feels no one cares about her, and she doesn’t feel that way without basis. At fourteen, one of the most difficult years of many people’s lives, she endures poverty and an abysmal family life. Chelle’s mother struggles to support her and her father without any time or heart left for her sensitive daughter. Her father wallows in the throes of alcoholism and when he is home, everyone avoids his fury and humiliation. To cope with all the pain, Chelle turns to an illicit relationship with a teacher, the only one who seems to care, and her self-harm rituals that punish her body to revive her heart. Hope dawns in Chelle’s life when the hot, edgy new boy takes an interest in her. But what is left for her when every hope she has turns to dust?
Pavarti has written a beautiful, horrible, gut-wrenching tale of grim reality. Truthfully, I never understood the mindset of someone who harmed themself or how they could possibly find solace in it. I understand now. In brilliant, vivid detail, Pavarti shows us how Chelle’s life crushes her delicate heart and drives her to cut and burn her body to take control of something. Though the character may be fictional, I know her story is real to many. This felt like someone’s biography. I cried.
Each character felt like someone real, struggling with their perspective, dreams, and disappointments. No character took the role of villain in this understanding perspective, though many committed crimes. Chelle seemed propelled through life, reacting and acting on her external stimuli without any real understanding, like a child does. Truly this story broke my heart and reaffirmed my determination to be the annoying, uncool, pestering parent I should. I know that if I should encounter a person who has gone through or is going through self-harm, I will be better equipped to reach out to them. Bravo, Pavarti!
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I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.