By: Mindi Scott
Published By: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Page Count: 304
Source: Gifted ARC
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary, Abuse
Wow. There is no other way to start this review. Just wow. I knew that Mindi Scott had a tremendous talent based on reading her debut novel, Freefall, last year, but nothing could have prepared me for this novel. Live Through This blew me away and shattered my heart with its heart breaking prose. Scott's writing has gotten even stronger; her characterization and pacing were spot on.
Live Through This tells the story of Coley Sterling, a seemingly perfect high school student. Coley has everything - a great family, money, looks, athletic ability, amazing friends, and a cute boy who wants to hold her hand. How could anything be better? But what we see on the surface often lies. Coley is hiding some deep dark secrets that she is terrified will find their way out into the light of day. She bottles up the pain and tries to just make it through each day, living with her secrets. Coley tries to find ways to throw herself into her daily existence to stay focused on the positives and not dwell on the sexual abuse she suffers.
It broke my heart to watch Coley struggle with the abuse. Nobody should ever feel like abuse is deserved. This novel also really hit me hard because it made me wonder how many things are happening behind the scenes in the lives of my students. You can't look at someone and always see the imprint of abuse. Many people bury it in their subconscious or rationalize what is happening to them. In Coley's case, she even talks herself into believing that she is somehow to blame. While this novel was a difficult one for me to read because of the graphic nature of the abuse, I have to applaud Scott for taking the time to write this novel. Tough issues need to be reflected in the literature. I've said it in a ton of reviews, but teens need to see themselves and their problems in the fiction they read. For many who are coping with issues like abuse reading may be the only way they know how to deal with what is happening in their own lives. I can only hope that Coley's story can help other girls who are in her position.
In spite of the difficult subject matter - this book isn't all upsetting. There are moments of happiness and sweetness that appear as well. For example, the romance between Coley and Reece was one of my favorite things about this book. I loved their playful banter, song lyric compliments, and fondness for giraffes. Their Christmas gift exchange was one of the sweetest moments I have seen in YA literature. Like Coley, you can't help falling for Reece. He is one of those guys in YA lit that you wish existed and had been in your homeroom class. He's the knight in shining armor who wants nothing more than to hold your hand and wipe away your tears. He's just the sort of boy that Coley needs.
I also really enjoyed the supporting characters. They bring so much to the story. Ming and Xander's relationship provided a bit of humor while Noah and Alejandra's segments provided additional layers of drama. I felt okay leaving Coley at the end of this one because I knew her support system would help her as she sought to continue to live through finding the healing she so desperately needs and deserves.
If you're into contemporaries that focus on rough issues - this is a book for you. For me, it ranks right up there with Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits. I love both of these books more than my words can truly express. Each of them made me laugh, cry, and cringe while teaching me something new about myself and the world around me. Writers who can make me feel so intensely are few and far between, but Mindi Scott has certainly earned a spot on that list.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated that nobody realized that something was going on with Coley for so long - she was very good at hiding things and her response is realistic - it just made for some difficult emotional conflict for me
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The characters - Scott is a master at creating characters who step off the pages
First Sentence: I'm on my bed, under the covers, and my boyfriend is kissing my neck.
Favorite Character: Coley
Least Favorite Character: The abuser
Sometimes hiding the truth requires more than a lie . . .
From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her from the annoying drama. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a stepdad and mom who would stop at nothing to keep her and her siblings happy and safe.
But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and as Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.
Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect in this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel.