Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Book Review: "Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed" by Christine Doré Miller

Title: Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
Author: Christine Doré Miller
Genre: YA Fiction
Page Length: 220 pages
Publication Date: April 24, 2019
Date Started: July 14, 2019
Date Finished: July 16, 2019
Rating: 2 // 5 stars

*I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I'm honestly struggling with writing this review. I had moderate hopes for this book but I was still let down, which is disappointing considering this book deals with a pretty serious topic close to my heart. I knew this wasn't going to be a book that I necessarily had an amazing time reading or loved with all my heart, but I was hoping it would be a good, powerful novel representing dating violence that made me feel something. It didn't.

As a brief intro, this book is about a girl--Andie--who starts dating her first boyfriend--Josh--and is so happy with finally dating someone until he turns into an abusive partner. Now, obviously readers aren't meant to like the relationship and I wanted to punch Josh in the face most of the time. One of the things this book did pretty well, though, was in writing this relationship and how someone can go from happy one second to manipulative and controlling the next.

But I had a lot of issues with this book outside of that with pretty much everything you can think of. I didn't really like any of the relationships or characters except perhaps Stephanie--a friend of the main character and someone who got so little page time that I actually had to look up their name for this review. It seemed to me like all of the characters were very one dimensional and written to fulfill a  specific stereotype: shitty best friend, abusive boyfriend, knight in shining armor, absentee friend, etc. Even with the main character, I didn't get much from her. She felt stereotypical and the only part of her we get to see is the one who's with an abusive boyfriend and trying to heal from that. We don't get to see who she truly is even before the relationship.

The overall plot of the book felt meh to me as well. Yes, there were some stakes with having an abusive boyfriend, but what happened other than that? I guess if I revert back to elementary school I can categorize the climbing action, climax, falling action, and resolution but it's not very clear cut at all. I got about five pages to the end and the internal journey the main character was going through hadn't changed at all. Only in the last two pages did her mentality change.

Additionally, the main character was understandably in a not-so-good place mentally and emotionally throughout the book. It seems like the only reason she starts to get better, though, is because of a boy affirming for her that she's beautiful. I couldn't understand their relationship development at all because it was so quick and then all of sudden he was the reason she was getting better. Like, yes, other people can help along healing processes but if the only reason she gets better is because of a boy? Well...that just doesn't send a very good message to teenagers about what a healthy relationship is. They have a great example of an unhealthy relationship in Andie and Josh, but relying on a boy "fix" your mental state isn't a healthy relationship either.

I think just overall this book tried to do a good thing. It tried to tackle a very sensitive topic and bring light to it and possibly be inspiring. However, I don't think the execution was very good. A lot of the characters were unlikable and for a story so centered around inner growth, it's important to have a connection to the character. The plot, at times, was unrealistic. And I just don't think that this book did a very good job at showing how to get out of an abusive relationship. Overall, I'm just disappointed that this book didn't do as good a job at tackling such a sensitive topic.

Trigger warnings for: abuse, sexual assault and rape, self-harm.

Thanks for reading!

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