I’m back and I’m back with BANG!
[dropcap type=”circle” color=”#F9FBFC” background=”#B75BB7″]T[/dropcap]oday on my blog I’m talking about a book that absolutely, positively tested my comfort level in reading. I don’t normally read contemporary novels and when I do, it’s usually from the young adult section. I have this thing about “leaving reality” and reading young adult still lets me *poof* out of my world.
But even though this is a YA title, Swell hit waaaaaaay too close to home for me. In so many ways, I could relate to the “mundane” world of Beck and the problems that grew out trying to become the person you think you want to be, to be with the person you want to be with. It was such a challenge to my soul and my memories of high school life to read this book. I really felt like I could have been Beck, had I just slipped down the path she took. I was so similar to Beck when I was a teenager.
But before I totally embarrass myself, I’ve got to tell you a bit about the book…
By Julie Rieman Duck
Published September 1st, 2012
Contemporary | Young Adult
Source: Received from author in return for an unbiased review
From Goodreads: When Christian Rusch plucks Beck Ionesco from the freshman ranks for himself, she’s tempted with parties, popularity, and love. But as the free-flowing booze that soaks his world seeps into her own, Beck begins using liquid courage as a way to ignore Christian’s dark moods… and cover her anxiety about his flirtatious friend Hillman.
However, when Christian breaks up with Beck, and Hillman makes a dangerous move, no amount of alcohol can stop the pain or keep her out of trouble. And just when it seems like she’s lost everything, Beck is partnered with Jesse Leary for an art project. After spending time with him, Beck realizes it’s more than a study date… and Christian’s not happy about it. Then again, Beck’s not sure she’s happy with him, either.
But only after plowing through a bottle of wine, a wild fight, and one guardrail that becomes Christian’s last call, does Beck admit to her problem and ask for help from the one whose life secretly parallels her own.
Now, back to my review…
I had a hard time reading Beck; I wanted to scream and throw things at her. She was selfish, stupid, immature and completely self-serving. And I think Ms. Duck completely captured an accurate teenager going through that awkward time in her life where she tries to find her place in high school. That’s probably why I didn’t like Beck – she reminded me of me back then. I was stupid like Beck. I used “liquid courage” to fit in back in my high school days. I ended up in some pretty stupid situations. And I’m extremely lucky that I survived as well as I did! I got very lucky; I have many close members of my family who are alcoholics. It would have been so easy for me to slip down that slope. That’s why I KNOW this story is accurate. This is teenage life.
The story and plot was a little slow going for the action junkie in me. But that’s the way this story should be; it is a steady decline in Beck’s life that you’re a witness to; reality.
At the time I read this I was fighting a migraine (aren’t I always?). Talk about being able to capture reality in words. All the “hangover” scenes made me feel worse. I had to put the book down and step away until I got my migraine under control. After that, no problems. Now, if I could figure a way to bill Ms. Duck for my extra pain meds (I’m sooooo kidding!!)
The setting, I believe, was highly accurate. I have not been to the exact area of Laguna Beach or Laguna Niguel that the story takes place in but I have been up to the area (I used to live in San Diego). My cousin lives in that area. It is hilly, it is beautiful, it is rich and affluent, funky, and Ms. Duck painted a great picture of the area. If you’ve never been to California you may not be able to picture the area on the beach where Beck went to drink by the train trestles, but that’s hard to explain to anyone who’s never been.
California is unique – just believe me when I say, “anything goes” there. So a toga party in high school… believable.
This is not a light read by any stretch. It has mature subject matter such as sex, rape, and of course, drinking. But as heavy as the story sounds, I will tell you that there is a reward at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the very well done ending. I was in tears for the last two chapters. It was a welcome relief.
Any book that challenges my feelings like this is a good book by me. I’m such the wordsmith, no?
I do want to share something personal (okay, maybe the emo-kid in me coming out). I battle depression. I guess I always have because I would get depressed as a teenager. To deal, I would take my Walkman, my mix cassette tapes and sit outside on the side of my house and listen to the most emo songs I had. Back then, I was into U2, Tears For Fears (the old stuff like Pale Shelter), and especially one song by Chaka Kahn called “Ain’t Nobody”. Over and over I would just listen to the songs. Yep, pretty angst-y.
I asked Julie Rieman Duck what would be her Top 10 Things To Do When You’re Sad, Overwhelmed, Or Need to Escape (Besides Drink). Here’s her awesome list:
- Call a friend.
- Take a “meditation” walk and look at the plants, the sky, the birds, and all the little things around you.
- Go to the book store or library and browse – this is a great way to find solutions.
- Massage lotion into your feet and paint your toes.
- Flip-switch your thoughts and put them on something good, like your dog, the cool new boots you bought, or even that the sun is shining.
- Have something sweet, because chocolate and ice cream are great medicine!
- Clean your room or help around the house, as cleaning clears out negative energy.
- Create a new look online, whether it’s your blog, website, FB page.
- Change something, like your hair or clothes.
- Hug someone in your family, even though it may seem awkward and like you don’t want them involved. Know that you are loved.
- BONUS – write it down in a journal or pen a short story.
I personally adhere to her advice on changing my look online… often 😉 Thank you so much, Julie, for your fabulous list!!! Where were you when I was 15??
About the Author: Born in Los Angeles and raised in San Clemente, California, Julie Rieman Duck wrote her way through school on an old-fashioned typewriter. Somewhere along the line, she was sidetracked by careers in magazine publishing and copywriting. While Julie honed her skills at writing print ads and articles, the stories that moved her heart and soul were bubbling underneath, waiting to escape.
It took a medical scare and the loss of her job — on the same day and within 30 minutes of each other — to finally allow her stories to free themselves and be put to paper.
Julie looks forward to writing more stories that hit where the heart beats fastest, and the soul reaches out for more.
I’m not done! There’s a tour-wide giveaway!
This is a tour wide giveaway and ends 12/18/12.
One person will win:
(Open to US only)
Paperback of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
Paperback of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
One other winner will win:
1 ebook of Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
1 ebook of The Joy and Torture of Joshua James
1 ebook of Earrings of Ixtumea by Kim Baccellia
1 ebook of Cornerstone by Misty Provencher
1 ebook (kindle) of There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack
By the way, my current emo song on heavy rotation in the Honda Odyssey is Temper Trap’s “Trembling Hands”. The lead singer had just gone through a painful breakup when he wrote this song.