When you open this book, the cover model looks up and at you. It is haunting. I loved it. I flipped back and forth often.
Lacour is one of my favorite YA authors at this point. She does these really intense character driven plot lines. Sometimes nothing outside of the character’s thoughts happen. Other times there are bigger plots. But it always comes down to an intense look at very large feelings. This book focuses on healing from abuse and the reaction to abuse.
So I have a tragic backstory, but it is both more and less tragic because my mother is a social worker (and foster parent for the check) so there was no chance of me getting help or being put into the foster care system. So some of what Mila went through were very, very close to what I went through. Some of what she went through was far from what I experienced. Yet, everything she felt made sense. The fear, the desire for family that is so intense it can make you overlook red flags, and how intensely you can shut down and not trust someone the very first time they don’t do what you want/expect.
Mila gets a job on a farm doing home schooling for foster kids. She is 18, just graduated from high school herself, and just aging out of the foster care system (which is and is not accurate for the foster care system. There are safety nets for kids aging out to stay in the system and have help adjusting to being an adult). She has no contact with the outside world, because cell phone reception is spotty. This screams RED FLAGS. This is very much the plot of The Monster of Managatiti. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire book. Then the addition of ghosts made me SO READY for some horror.
There are not any horror, except the horror of her past. She is trying to heal and help a young boy heal at the same time. This is the point where the book starts to unravel for me. The big reveal at the end is not something I enjoyed. It felt forced and very “embrace your inner child and that will heal your PTSD” nonsense that is spouted. So before the last about 30-40 pages, this book was five starts. After that it drops down to 2 stars real fast. The ending drastically changed how I felt about the book. It did not have any fewer red flags, it actually had more. I was expecting more. Instead I am left in the middle of the process of healing with all of these unexplained and unfinished plots of interactions. I am not amused.
For a good chunk of the book, there was a possibility for a polyam relationship. I really wanted it to happen, but this is just one unexplained and unfinished plot. There were more important plots that were dropped, but that is one of the main ones that jump out to me right now. There is also the cult like feelings that was never addressed.
I am really torn on this book. The ending pretty much destroyed it for me, but the majority of the book was amazing.