I have a lot of feelings about this book, and the rating is subject to change.
First, this book is told in what I’ll call an interesting format, and I’d be curious to look at a finished copy to see if chapters are shifted around later. At this point, the first 100 pages of the book are told from Sparrow’s perspective but frequently reference things which the reader doesn’t know anything about. For example, a funeral takes place after an illness which was never described but the characters all knew about it. Then the perspective shifts to Sparrow’s best male friend, Lucas. Lucas’ story backs up and describes some of the same events, filling the reader in on details previously unknown. On one hand, i can understand how important it was to tell Sparrow’s story in an uninterrupted fashion, but on the other hand, it leaves the reader confused and just hoping that some explanation will come later. It does, but you just don’t know that going in.
The next thing is that those first 100 pages are magically simultaneously incredibly difficult to read while going down so smooth. Reading the description of Sparrow’s interactions with Tristan are painful and upsetting. Anyone who has been in an abusive, controlling relationship is likely to have a visceral response in places. But i could barely tear my eyes from the page because it was all so perfectly written. This entire book reads quickly. I didn’t count, but i probably put a total of 6 hours into it maybe?
Maybe the final thing that i want to mention is that I’m not sure how believable i found the emotional responses of these characters. Do people really blame themselves for the horrendous things other people do, and engage in such nasty behavior to the people who care about them? If they do, i haven’t seen it. It was just a little over the top to me. There were also places where i felt like i was being emotionally manipulated by how ham-fisted tragedies and lessons were. I also found some of the children to exhibit behavior which didn’t quite match their ages. Sometimes Lucas busted out with these extremely prosaic statements that just did not make sense coming out of a 17/18 year old male’s mouth. But then again, I also never knew that there were straight male ballet dancers, so perhaps my knowledge of the world isn’t to be trusted.
I suspect this would be a good book for discussion, either with a young person just learning how to be in a relationship or other adults with some experience under their belts. However, as an adult, i would not just hand this book to a teenager without having read it first. This book covers some heavy ground.