Friday, November 15, 2013

In Leah's Wake by Terri Guiliano Long

WINNER, Literary Fiction - IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDA), 2012
Winner - Global eBook Award, 2012
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites - First Place
Book Bundlz 2011 Book Club Pick
CTRR Reviewer Recommend Award, 2011

Author Terri Guiliano Long has received the above awards, most of them for her contemporary novel
In Leah's Wake. an emotional tale of a talented 16 year old soccer star who, amidst the normal angst and fight for independence, goes terribly astray.  Her downward spiral does not just disappoint her parents; it thrusts them onto their own self-destructive paths.  And Leah's younger sister, a near-perfect 8th grader, finds herself left to flounder alone.  Readers will find just how quickly the American dream can plunge into tragedy as father, mother, and young sister crumble in the tumultuous "wake" left by Leah's poor choices.

As a mother (thankfully my children are grown), grandmother, and someone who worked with teenagers all my career, this book was almost too much.  Both Leah's self-destructive choices and her parents' lousy parenting skills made me want to scream!  The undeserved guilt that younger sister Justine heaps upon herself is heart breaking.  Maybe the emotion was just too much for me, but I almost quit reading this book.  I doubt if I have put aside more than five books in my entire life without finishing them, so I didn't quit.  Instead I skimmed many pages, getting the facts but not delving too deeply into the lowest points of the drama.  Obviously, the list of awards that Long has won shows that other readers connected a little better to her story and style of writing.  Before I end the review I want to talk about Officer Jerry.  I can't reveal much about him without sharing spoilers, but I wonder how others responded to his presence in the story. I found that his actions and decisions really impacted much of the story, and I am not sure how I feel about that.  Often it takes a third party to defuse the destructive behaviors within a family as volatile as the Tylers, but I wonder about the author's choice to create a personal story between Jerry and Leah's mother.

In Leah's Wake - Terri Giuliano Long

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