Saturday, January 24, 2015

Blog Tour and Review of The Choice by Allison J. Kennedy

Title: The Choice
Author: Allison J. Kennedy
Release Date: Nov 10, 2014
Find on Goodreads

How do you heal from your past when you're still trapped within it? 
I lost myself the night of the party. Just like that, my innocence and my sanity were torn away. 
I would like to say that time heals all wounds, but it doesn't. And I would like to say that falling in love is what rescued me, but it wasn't. Nobody told me what to expect in the coming days and weeks and months after conceiving a rapist's child. Years later, my wounds are still just as fresh as the night they were made. It would be so easy to disappear and allow the memories to consume me. 
But that's the choice, isn't it? To live instead. 
**This book contains rape triggers. Discretion is advised.

4 Stars!

Review: So, I want to go ahead and mention that this book not only contains rape triggers, but it also discusses the definitely heavy topic of abortion, as well as Depression and Anxiety.

May is in the beginning of her senior year of high school when the unthinkable happens - she is raped. From this point, the story is about May learning to admit to herself that she was raped, learning to trust others again, and also making some big decisions regarding her body and her future. That all sounds so simple on a page or in a sentence, but May really struggles with each of these areas. To begin with, May is not a party girl. She didn't go to parties, normally, and was actually only at this particular party to make sure something similar did not happen to a friend of hers. May is actually pretty reserved and pretty focused, or I should say pre-May was both of those things. Post-May is a little different.

Post-May struggles. She struggles with getting out of bed; she struggles with eating; she struggles with looking anyone in the face. She has never had a lot of support from her parents, which was very difficult for me to see unfold. Her dad, who is a physician, is so busy and overworked that he does not see some pretty obvious signs. Her mom seems to have checked out, or maybe never checked in, years ago. And May's sister, Grace, is probably dealing with some serious Anxiety, herself, so she is not much of a rock for May, as well as being younger.

Instead, May receives most of her support from her friend Addison, as well as Alex, the new guy in town that comes on scene right after the party. As a woman and as a parent, it was so difficult to watch May struggle so much in silence and on her own. She did not tell anyone, she did not report the guy, and she did not take basic care of herself afterwards. I know that many women make these same decisions - out of fear, out of self-loathing, out of self-blame, guilt, etc, but that did not make it any easier to watch May experience it. I would like to think that it could have been different for her if she had more support at home, but we won't ever really know. All the burden for supporting her and trying to help her through it fell on the shoulders of two other 17 or 18 year old girls and one lonely 20 year old male.

For the most part, this is a good read. It's not an easy read, and it may make you extremely frustrated or angry. It may break your heart, and it may also make you realize that you can't take life for granted. There were a few things that I noticed that could maybe make the story tighter or possibly more fleshed out. At the end, May's parents all of a sudden seem involved and seem to care - which may be understandable once they realize what has happened. It felt inconsistent, though, because I was sort of picturing them as unfeeling and uncaring, rather than just absentmindedly forgetful, or something. May's mom, for instance, seemed pretty cold, and then, suddenly, she tells May she loved her too much when she was younger. The other aspect that would add depth to the story is maybe fleshing out May and Addison's friendship, as well as May and Alex's. We are told about things more than getting to experience it.  Otherwise, prepare for a somewhat heartbreaking ride.

I pounded on the door of Alex's bookstore after a few knocks. “Where are you?” I groaned in agony, cupping my hands over the window so I could peer inside. I hadn't seen his car in its usual spot, and he hadn't answered my calls. I broke down right then and there for the millionth time, it seemed. 
I turned around and saw him standing behind me with a bag of groceries. “I left school. For good, I mean,” I stammered. “And you didn't answer your phone, and I was scared you hated me, too.”
He put the key in the lock while I rambled, hurriedly letting us inside. I almost wondered if he was ignoring me until he sat the bag down and pulled me into his arms. “Shhh . . .” he soothed. “How could I ever hate you?”
I gripped the back of his sweater in my hands, wishing I could disappear into him and never have to feel any of this again. Maybe if we were one person, our pain would have been easier to bear. But of course that was impossible. I was hysterical, sobbing so hard my knees threatened to give out.
He inhaled a deep breath and sang softly by my ear. I don't remember the words he sang, but I remember how quickly the sound of his voice calmed my weeping. He took my hand after a while and led me upstairs. I thought he was taking me to his piano, but he took me to his bedroom instead. 
And the strange thing was, when he held up the covers for us to climb under them, I had not even a passing thought of being in Tyler's bed. I lay on his chest and he kept singing. Then he hummed until the last of my tears fell onto his shirt. He stroked my hair over and over. I'm sure he didn't know this, but the strokes matched his breathing.
And even after I went home, I held onto that moment in my memory until morning dawned the next day.

Allison was born and raised in the mountains of Oregon, birthed of the crisp, clean air and rainy forests. She now resides in Oklahoma City, though she is still thoroughly attached to her home and finds much inspiration for her stories whenever she has a chance to return. As the spouse of a police officer and a full-time photographer, she is on her toes 24/7. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Oklahoma Next Generation award: an award given to thirty individuals under the age of thirty in the state who have proven to be innovative and inspiring leaders in the arts, entertainment, business, media, and other areas of impact.
Often told that she has her head in the clouds, she couldn’t deny it even if she wanted to. Allison began dreaming up stories long before she was old enough to write them. She enjoys a variety of genres, including YA, romance, historical romance, fantasy, dystopian, and anything else that hooks her interest. She prefers to write books that tell gripping love stories in heart-wrenching, real, inspiring ways. Her stories are deep and raw, taking the reader into a world that is richly intricate. Readers often say that they are swept away and left reeling when they have finished the last page. 
Allison loves to interact with her readers, and she does her best to respond to every email she receives. To learn more about her, visit her Facebook page and follow along on her writing journey!

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