Saturday, 10 May 2014

Reclaiming The Sand by A Meredith Walters - 4.5 STARS!!

Reclaiming the Sand by A Meredith Walters
4.5 Gut Wrenching Stars
Blurb - Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.

Ellie McCallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.

Particularly Freaky Flynn.

Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.
 God I’m not sure where to start with this book, I think I loved it but to be honest I’m not entirely sure if I hated it. That sounds daft but they say that it’s a fine line between love and hate and on that line is pretty much where I’m sitting rocking backward and forward as I think about this story.
I feel like I’ve been through an emotional rollercoaster, I’ve laughed, smiled, almost cried, hated, been mortified and frustrated and all during the last twelve hours and I remember this feeling well because it’s how I felt after I read Find you in the Dark another book by A Meredith Walters.
This author has a way of making you feel every emotion at a heightened level and I have no idea how, perhaps it’s the way you engage with the characters but however she does it, it makes for an amazing reading experience.
I usually do a quick list of the best and worst bits of the books I review, but I’m not going to for Reclaiming the Sand mainly because in the most parts the best bits were also some of the worst.
The subject matter for this book is a very brave view into the world of living with someone with Asperger’s, which for those of you who have never heard of it is a form of Autism that leaves the sufferer with the inability to relate to people and social situations in the way most people do (this is disease is much more complicated than this but this gives you an idea).
I love the fact that Ellie as an adult is real about the way she deals with Flynn she may love him but she never hides the fact that she finds his behaviour at times frustrating and difficult to deal with. The chapters that are written in Flynn’s POV were so lovely and uncomplicated, “when she laughs it means she’s happy” his relationship with Ellie in his mind is so straight forward, even though I know its fiction I wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug.
This is ultimately a love story but it’s not done in a cliché way it’s not instant love or all consuming passion but quiet and beautiful hidden love. Its love in an unforgiving reality and I wanted them to be ok, to figure it out it was just heartbreaking.
I hated the ignorance and abuse Flynn suffers as a teenage at the hands of Ellie and her friends the humiliating cruelty of bullying is very real in this book and I cringed at how Flynn feels especially as he has no idea why they are tormenting him.
I think why I’m so conflicted about this book is that it’s not very nice, I know that it might be a daft thing to say but it’s almost too real, too gritty and it makes it uncomfortable to read.
I think as humans we all have a tendency to stick our heads in the sand, in an ignorance is bliss way, and pretend that the nastier things in life don’t exist well this book refuses to let you do that. It dragged me kicking and screaming into this literary world where a pregnant woman abuses her body with alcohol and drugs and just doesn’t care and worse no one around her cares either!!!. Where a vulnerable 15yr old boy is bullied and no one does anything to stop it. Where a child is put into the foster system at a very young age and then given up on because she struggles to deal with it.
I struggled with the realities of this; I wanted Ellie to protect Flynn at 15. I wanted her to rebel against her idiot friends and stand up and say he’s different but I don’t care. But she doesn’t and it’s a full eight years later, eight years of her life wasted before she realises that if you want your life to be different you have to do something to change it.
I love Ellie and Flynn’s interactions in this book, she is complicated and damaged she lives an isolated existence by choice; she chooses not to be close to anyone, to not let anyone see her vulnerabilities. Then you have Flynn who by nature is simple, black and white he has a childlike outlook on life which is so beautiful that it had me thinking god if we all had this simplistic way of dealing with everything wouldn’t we all be happier.
My biggest criticism of this book is the ending I wanted more of a resolution, I’ve felt so emotionally connected to this story I needed that happy ending, I needed to know that they were going to be together and that in the end finding each other and accepting each other’s flaws was their happy ending.
I know I loved this book because I hated it so much, I know that is a massive contradiction but because I loved, hated and connected with everything in this story I feel like it had a profound effect on me. I will remember it and I will remember how it made me feel and that’s a massive thing as a reader, congratulations A Meredith Walters you did it again it was outstanding!!!