When Christian Rusch plucks Beck Ionesco from the freshman ranks for himself, she’s tempted with parties, popularity, and love. But as the free-flowing booze that soaks his world seeps into her own, Beck begins using liquid courage as a way to ignore Christian’s dark moods… and cover her anxiety about his flirtatious friend Hillman.However, when Christian breaks up with Beck, and Hillman makes a dangerous move, no amount of alcohol can stop the pain or keep her out of trouble. And just when it seems like she’s lost everything, Beck is partnered with Jesse Leary for an art project. After spending time with him, Beck realizes it’s more than a study date… and Christian’s not happy about it. Then again, Beck’s not sure she’s happy with him, either. But only after plowing through a bottle of wine, a wild fight, and one guardrail that becomes Christian’s last call, does Beck admit to her problem and ask for help from the one whose life secretly parallels her own.
It's aimed at the Young Adult crowd but with some foul language and some VERY adult issues/situations. Here's the thing though...things like this happen to people of ALL ages; sad but true. Beck doesn't start out a "good time" girl (in any black humoured sense of the word), but a little attention from the right sources for the wrong reasons and a heaping dose of peer pressure later and BOOM; she's in with the "in" crowd alright and boy oh boy is she going to pay. Lost nights. Early morning headaches. Missed sleep. Lost innocence. A new addiction to feed that is FAR worse than buying one too many books. All these things add up to a problem, yes, but as bad as they are, it gets THAT much worse. It's not her fault; she didn't ask for it....and yet it still happened.
The problem is that even after she hit the proverbial rock bottom, like most addicts, she simply couldn't say no. Things had gotten beyond "Ben-&-Jerry's-make-it-better" bad and elevated to heights of which even adults shouldn't have to deal with...and she's only FIFTEEN. It was hard watching her make the choices she made. I mean, I totally get the desire to fit in, be one of the "in" crowd, be noticed by your crush, and simply make your mark on life...hey, you're talking to someone who was (and can still be at times) uber shy, had very few close friends and enjoyed homework time. Yep, geek, nerd...whatever term you want to sling my way, probably heard it before.
The difference between me and Beck though? My Mom...and probably my shyness outweighed any desire to fit in, but back to Mom. She was always there for me (still is...^_^), my own personal cheering squad and if I ever needed to talk, I could count on her. She didn't have the easiest time raising me (single parent and all, goodness knows she's a rock star though) but she instilled morals, values and self-worth, never let anyone walk all over me, and despite not having been given a manual when I was born, did wonderfully in my eyes. (Thanks Mom!) That's not to say Beck's parents were negligent, just a bit removed from the situation. Life gets busy, TOTALLY get that, but you HAVE to make time to be in your kids lives (or even your friends lives if you're not a parent). Get personal. Be annoying. Ask questions. Know where they are and what they are doing. Teach them responsibility, consequences and the hard lessons in life verbally before anyone else can. It's your job as a parent! Believe me, they might not like it now, but they'll thank you for it later.
In conclusion, a cautionary tale of what can happen when we lose ourselves in order to fit a mold society offers us on a silver platter; a hard, intense read, but needed nonetheless. The story is aimed at young adults, but I suggest it for an older teen audience through adults...and perhaps for anyone exhibiting warning signs of issues along the lines Beck goes through. It's one of those books that although written as fiction, hits close to home for many in one fashion (under age drinking, teen sex, addiction, rape) or another thus enabling it to spark conversations...use the power it grants you to tackle some of your own demons or aid in the fight someone you love may be fighting against them. You'll go through a myriad of feelings with these characters from Beck (love/hate) to Christian (tolerate/despise), Jesse (off white knight in dinged up armor) to Hillman (OMG words are not enough to express my feelings about this piece of... _fill in the blank_) and everyone in and out of their posse along the way making it the emotional read it needed to be...but the final message to me is this.
BE THERE for each other. Your kids, friends, family, neighbors...just BE THERE. Let them know they are seen and more importantly HEARD. Allow them a shoulder to cry on, an ear to turn to and if things get out of control, help them seek further assistance; parental units come in handy in those situations and if the ones in your life don't, there are always the professionals.
One person will win:
(Open to US only)
Paperback of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
Paperback of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
One other winner will win:
1 ebook of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of The Joy and Torture of Joshua James by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia
1 ebook of Cornerstone by Misty Provencher
1 ebook (Kindle) of There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack