Originally posted at The Filipina Booknote
The title wasn’t really enticing when I came across this book at Netgalley, but after reading the synopsis I was drawn to it and think it might be worth a shot, and it was. It was thought-provoking and it gives awareness to people who doesn’t have an idea what it feels like to be abused in a relationship.
Lex Harrington was a straight-A student back in highschool, she was also a member of the cheerleading squad and she was the girlfriend of the most popular boy at school and their team’s quarterback. Her family wasn’t rich or lived a glamorous life, but she was happy and was driven to finish school and reach her dreams. She had a bestfriend who was secretly in love with her, and she was fearless. That was until she succumb to emotional abused, thanks to her highschool sweetheart which also became his ex-husband and the father of her son. After living four years of suffering under his abusive ex-husband who suddenly left her with their five month old son, she now lives as a single mother working at her friend’s family business and trying to make ends meet. “She was good at that, repressing her feelings, disguising them as something else. Sometimes she thought it was the only thing she was good at.”
I never thought I’d feel this sad over a fictional character. I thought couples breaking up and losing characters through death was the saddest I’d feel for fictional characters but I was wrong. It felt like I was Lex, like I was the one receiving every insult and verbal abuse her monster ex-husband had been throwing at her. I thought monsters and evil creatures only existed in fantasy books, I was wrong. Brad was so evil I want to hunt him down and give him physical torture equivalent to what he did to Lex. “The memories were so vivid she could smell the scent of the air, feel the pain that knifed through her at Brad’s careless insults. The person she had trusted most, the person who was supposed to have taken care of her and protected her, had ultimately proved to be her greatest tormentor.”
"He didn’t need to use his fists. His offhanded comments, dropping from his mouth without regard, pricked like a thousand needles, undermining her belief in herself."
I wanted to cry for her and lift some of her burdens. After everything she has gone through, she felt like she never deserved anything better. She stopped living for herself, and she would always blame herself because that’s what Brad made her think. That nobody will see her as an amazing and beautiful person, that she was lucky Brad settled for her. Whether or not she deserved better was irrelevant. Luckily for her, she met amazing friends who never left her side and loved not just her but her son too. But there was one person who had left a really big pain on her when that person gave up on her and walked away, it was Jaron Richards. He was their highschool drama fag but after college he became a movie star, thanks to a young adult adaptation. Jaron was her childhood bestfriend, he was the person she trusted and loved the most as she was growing up. They would spend holidays and dinners together, even after Lex’s dad died. But that was when Brad entered the picture, Brad had the same experience like Lex and she thought she was the rock that she needed as she moved on from her grief. And little by little, Brad was also the reason why Jaron and Lex’s friendship grew apart.
Jaron loved Lex very much, it doesn't matter if it was with him, but all he wanted was her happiness and seeing the person he loved the most throwing her life for a jerk wasn't something he liked to watch. And that drove him to walk away from their lives and stop contacting and talking to Lex. He thought that if he was out of Lex sight, that would drove her to end things with Brad, but no she was too blinded. After four years, Jaron had to shoot a movie at their hometown and he sure did showed reluctance with the idea. He never wanted to come back to the place where a lot of people ridiculed him for being different and another part of him doesn't want to see Lex too. But this movie was a good break for him and he needed that break so he can be an established actor. So he went back and faced everything in his past. But he didn't know that this movie wasn't just giving him a big break, it was also giving him a chance to rekindle past relationships and make new beginnings. Not just for him, but also for Lex.
One thing I have to say, Jaron must be given an award as the best bestfriend-slash-boyfriend award. I can’t imagine a real person who had perfect qualities like Jaron. Anyone who meets a person like him in real life must have been a hero in the past. Lex is one super lucky girl.“How could you really appreciate the good things in life if you never had to experience anything bad.”
Reading this book was a big eye-opener for me. As a Psychology major, I have read a lot of journals and articles pertaining to abuse, physical and emotional. But reading a book and putting yourself in the shoes of someone abused was new to me. It wasn't just a New Adult book for me, it was something more I couldn't put in words. I can’t imagine living a life like Lex had. Even if she thinks little of herself, I see her as a strong woman. Having her child, Owen, made her survive even if she was dying inside. Physical wounds would heal in time, but how do you treat emotional abuse? I doubt there were bandages made for those. I was also thinking the title wasn't a bit appropriate for the story. I know that Jaron was a movie star, but the title was a bit misleading. I even thought this was one of those books about a celebrity falling in love with an ordinary person.
Overall, I liked this book and I enjoyed it very much. I loved this book more than I expected because it showed love and friendship doesn't have boundaries. Love and friendship needs to be side by side in a relationship and neither is created quickly. It takes a lot of time and struggles. It’s a give and take relationship and takes a lot of patience and understanding to become strong. I am very glad I gave this book a shot, no regrets. Loved every bit of it and I recommend this to everyone who would like to read something that could touch your heart and witness love and friendship survive test of time.