My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Published: June 26th, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Recommended Age: 15+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Abuse, Scandal, Privacy, Parenting, Teenage Love
Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was. Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school. Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving. Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame. At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.
This is not literature for birds (chick lit) or women’s fiction.
This is everyone’s fiction. Because this kind of story should be directed towards every adult, regardless of gender, color, class, etc.
This is not a love story. It is both heart-breaking and heart-mending. You will be frustrated half of the time, cry at unexpected moments, and smile rarely.
This is not a happy tale, but it is an important and empowering one. Although there have been stories about abuse (of power, physical and emotional…) published in the past, the way this life-altering scandal is dealt with is different.
It’s told from three distinct points of view, all in the first person singular. A mother, a father, and a daughter. Only the father and daughter are related, the mother being the parent of the boy who caused the scandal, but they connect to one another in various ways.
It’s filled with manipulatory behaviour – so much that it will mess with your head and what you believe is true – and characters behaving atrociously. There is lying, cheating, neglecting, and such bad role models.
Definitely not an easy book to read. Unfortunately, I predict many will pick this up expecting it to yes deal with serious issues, but also be dramatic in an entertaining way – because of this author’s previously published books. I assure you that will not happen. It’s a compelling story, because you’ll want – no, need – to know the fate of the characters, but rarely was I able to crack a smile. Did I even?
I hope this will truly empower people to speak out about abuse and help others grow into decent citizens of the world.
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