Book Review: The Radius of Us

The Radius of Us
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Page Count: 304
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Young Adult - Contemporary

The Radius of Us is a wonderful book that deals with numerous social issues - anxiety, assault, gangs, violence, immigration, and race. And at the heart of this novel is romance. 

 Gretchen is an 18 year old who was assaulted after work one evening. Since then, she has had anxiety, panic attacks, and is almost unable to leave her house. Her parents had her try a number of unconventional therapies, but nothing seemed to help very much. Gretchen has a boyfriend, Adam, who is away at college. And her best friend is Bree, who has been supportive and by her side through it all. 

Phoenix is an 18 year old who fled his native country of El Salvador with his younger brother Ari, to try and save him from being initiated into a gang as he was at the young age of 13. At the border, they turned themselves over to the agents and asked for asylum. They were separated and Phoenix was taken to detention in GA, while Ari was taken to TX to a temporary shelter. Phoenix is "rescued" by Amanda and Sally, a couple that decided they wanted to help him and his brother. 

 The first time Gretchen sees Phoenix, she has a panic attack and runs away from him. She feels so badly about it that she later finds him so that she can apologize. And right away she begins to feel safer with him than she has in a long time. 

 I was so excited to get the opportunity to read this book. One of my sons lived in El Salvador for almost 2 years so it was very interesting to see a different side of this country. The side he saw was not quite so violent, although he was very aware of it. 

 The romance between Gretchen and Phoenix was very beautifully written. It grew slowly as both of them had some serious personal issues to contend with. Some they were able to work on together, but other things they had to deal with on their own. The demons chasing Phoenix seemed to be especially destructive, and could ruin both Phoenix and Gretchen. 

 Gretchen made exceptional growth in the book as well and it was heartwarming to see her thoughtfulness and sacrifices on Phoenix's behalf. She truly looked beyond the surface and paid attention to what he needed in his life, and what could be a very short time they had to spend together. 

 Bo and Barbie were 2 minor characters, but they made a huge difference in Phoenix's life and so I wanted to give them a shout-out! Their unconditional love for him was incredible, and especially at the end and it was very touching to see the depth of love and respect they had for Phoenix.

 I don't give out 5 birdies very often, but I really loved this book and was honored to be able to review it. It told a story about so many things, but mostly about how to love.

 Content: Language


What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt's The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.