Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.
Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.
A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from. (Source)
Preface: I would like to start this review out by saying this book is a little bit of a special case. This book deals with some very difficult topics. The main topic being severe self-injury. There is also drug use, sexual abuse, and pretty much every sad topic you can think of. Normally I don’t like to put “trigger warnings” on things, but this book can be difficult at times to read. I especially advise caution if you struggle with any of these things- especially self-harm/suicide in particular.
Plot: This book’s plot is a rollercoster of emotions. It is written in a very disjointed and weird way. The “chapters” are short, almost like journal entries. But that almost makes it seem more personal. The story starts out with Charlie being in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt. Originally, I thought this is where the story was going to take place. Surprisingly, this was only a small portion of the story. After she can no longer stay there, she moves to Arizona to be with her friend, Mikey. Thus begins the journey of trying to figure out how to live a normal life! She gets a job working as a dishwasher and meets an interesting cast of people, including the bad boy Riley. Soon she gets caught up in Riley’s troubled life and paired with her own, things don’t go so well. In this story, things just get more and more sad as the book goes on. You think it can’t possibly get any worse and BOOM it goes and gets worse. This book doesn’t leave you feeling very optimistic about life, but it is an emotional journey to tag along with.
Characters: Charlie- Charlie is just overall a mess. She starts out the story as a (selective) mute and eventually learns to speak. Then she’s a mess of trying to figure out how to be a person. It is a little bit hard to adequately review her. She’s not meant to be a good, strong leading lady. She’s constantly doubting everything and is scared of pretty much just leaving her room. She finds a way to make all the bad decisions while trying so hard to be good. Charlie is not really a hugely relateable character, but one that feels real. And I’m sure there are those out there that can relate more than I can. I could on a smaller level, but not quite to that extent.
Riley- I wanted to talk about Riley for a little bit. I hated him throughout the whole book. There was never a moment where I went “oh yeah, this is a good idea.” He was poison for even the most stable person, and stable Charlie was not. Near the climax of the book, he really shows how evil and terrible he can be and my heart just bled for Charlie. However, I understand that what Glasgow was trying to do was show the destruction of addiction. He wasn’t necessarily himself during that horrible time. And at the end of the book, she tried to give him a little redemption and show that there was hope for him. I’m just glad that they didn’t end up together somehow. It was a healthy way to have some closer. Although I did just kind of want to hit him a little bit.
Cover: The cover is definitely what drew me in. I could tell exactly what kind of book it was going to be just from the cover, and I think that says a lot. The cuts through the title really just hit me as powerful for some reason. It made me buy the book right there in the store, something I don’t often do.
Closing Thoughts: Rating this book was difficult for me. The book itself wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. It took forever to read and didn’t really keep me hooked the whole time. Plus, reading this I’ve learned that there really is such a thing as too sad. It just felt like she put every sad story/issue in this book. And while it addressed a lot of issues, it was hard to handle all in one book. In contrast, I really liked how emotional it was. I, personally, have struggled with some of the things in this book and I think that’s why I liked it a little more than the average reader. I think if you like these kinds of emotional, sad books, you’ll enjoy this book. Just take it little bits at a time so you don’t overload yourself with sadness. And I also recommend that if you are struggling with things like self-harm, it may not be the best book. It definitely is triggering at times and isn’t the best to read if you are in recovery. But I think it leaves you with a positive message in the end that is good overall.
Where to find Kathleen Glasgow: