Gritty and Absorbing Thriller

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CONTENT WARNING: violence, guns, mention of rape, death of a parent, death, mention of sexual abuse, PTSD and other mental health issues, mention of drug use, attempted sexual assault

I couldn't put this book down, finding myself reading this late into the night, just to find out what happened next.

Even though this is the second book in a series, and I didn't read the first, I never felt lost. This book worked well as a standalone.

The main character is well crafted, and I empathized with her situation. She was in a tough spot, but stayed positive and never gave up hope. While the story was graphic, it wasn't unrealistic. It portrayed life in a juvenile facility, and all the gritty complexities associated with that kind of life - the things that lead people to that point, and what can happen in that type of place.

While not everything about the story felt realistic, I still found myself caught up in the storyline, and wanted to see Emily succeed. I liked seeing how she connected with others, and used her brains to improve her situation whenever she could. After reading this, I'm definitely tempted to go back and read the first book.