Series: The Freedom Series, Book 1
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Published: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA Mature Contemporary Romance
Content Warning: Abuse, adult language, non-explicit sexual situations, and mild drug use
Age Recommendation: 14+
Formats Available: Mobi, ePub, PDF
~ Synopsis ~
“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”
On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.
She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.
When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.
Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?
This book starts strong and never lets up; I read it all in a single sitting. Told by a 17-year-old girl hiding a secret; blackmailed and abused, Willow still managed to come off as brave, resilient, and likable. She’s got a quirky personality that shines regardless of the adversity she faces.
Geared to younger readers, I still loved the way in which the author crafted the story, even though there were times I nearly screamed in frustration with Willow’s stubborn refusal to confide her horrible secret to anyone.
For me, this novel illustrates perfectly that no one should allow themselves to be blackmailed. I understood Willow’s trepidation to reveal the truth, and her legitimate fear of the repercussions likely to follow if she should do so, but I just kept hoping that the escalating violence would finally force her to re-examine her skewed and dangerous priorities.
This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
~ About the Author ~
Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.
Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.
Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014.