“Go be absolutely, positively, fucking angelic.”Kathleen Glasgow
Charlie is 17 years old and has experienced things no one should have to go through. She’s been homeless, lived on the streets, lived in a sex house, was abused and raped, and resorted to self harm to try and escape the terrible reality that she was living. Charlie ends up in a place for other girls that have been in similar situations. She attends therapy and sticks to a strict schedule. Eventually, Charlie is released and has to learn to live with her past while creating a future for herself…in the hot location of Tucson Arizona. There, she meets a strange cluster of people and has to figure out how to not be pulled into a downward spiral by some.
First of all, this book DEFINITELY needs content warnings. Sorry if they spoil anything for you, but I feel they are important.
Content Warnings: self harm, suicide, substance abuse, abuse, rape
- We were introduced to a lot of characters in this book. Charlie, the main character/narrator, had so many thoughts. I felt a lot of the time, that Glasgow could have left out some of the thoughts that Charlie was having; some that didn’t further the plot of the story/were very repetitive. I did like Charlie’s ability to tell the story, but felt that a lot from her own story was missing.
- The other girls in the beginning of the book: Some of them were very interesting! Blue was a great character and I’m glad we got to see more of her. I would have loved to see more from Louisa and a few of the other characters Charlie met.
- The True Grit crew: What a diverse, yet oddly similar, set of people. Riley was the typical damaged male that had A LOT of issues. I didn’t quite like the huge age gap between them (she was 17 and he’s 27). I feel like he could have been younger and still had the same issues, as we see in a lot of other books. His sister Julie was an enabler and I didn’t like her at all. She knew her brother had issues, yet she just let it happen because he had a rough childhood and she had to protect him. I don’t know about you, but if my little brother had drug issues and was constantly stealing from me and making shit decisions, I’d make sure he got help…or at least wouldn’t turn a blind eye to him. I did love Tanner and Linus though. I thought they were great secondary characters and liked that we got to see more of them near the end of the book.
- Charlie’s friend Mikey…love him and also hate him. He did help Charlie when she needed help the most, but his lifestyle had him on the road constantly so he wasn’t really around to help her in person. I understand his part in the book, but feel like the same events could have happened without him.
- I thought the writing was decent. Some of it really dragged for me and at times I felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere. I struggled getting through the beginning of the book because I was bored with it. There wasn’t really any crucial information that was being shared and I felt like there were so many characters introduced to us at once, I was lost.
- The story also barely touched on Charlie’s past. We got snippets here and there, but nothing really in depth. We know what happened to her, on the surface, with Frank and why she did what she did, but I would have liked to see more in her head during those times (I know it was traumatic for her, but it would help build the plot some more).
- I did like that Glasgow reintroduced Blue into the story because that added some spice. I was really over the Riley situation and adding Blue gave me drive to continue reading.
- When covering difficult topics, Glasgow did get Charlie’s thoughts out there. I felt like I understood Charlie and how she was feeling at any given time. I also appreciated the emphasis that recovery takes time and has no definite end, as well as it is different for each individual. Charlie wasn’t magically healed by the end of the book. She had relapses and setbacks, but she moved forward; something positive for her even if she didn’t notice at first.
Overall…this was an okay book. I wouldn’t rush to read it again, but I am glad that I read it. However, is no one going to talk about the cover or the chapter breaks? The red, cut marks on the cover are pretty tasteless and using the same cut marks to separate thoughts was pretty unsettling. I know it’s a main plot point of the book, but different art could have been used (since Charlie is an artist). Someone who struggles with self-harm or has a history could very easily be triggered by just seeing the cover of this book in the store. Not the best move on the publisher’s part.
I would love to hear what others thought about this book!