Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
At school, nobody sees the scratches or her pain. The only person she connects with is the mysterious Captain Lyric, who writes song lyrics on her fourth-period desk for her to complete. With pencil marks and music, Alexi carves out a comfortable space for herself as she and the Captain finish each other's songs - words on a desk feel safer than words spoken aloud.
But when Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend who understands her better than anyone. He has secrets of his own and knows all about suffering in silence. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally speak up.
With her powerful, moving debut novel, author Courtney C. Stevens emerges as an extraordinary new talent to watch.
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Powerful story and performance
- The Reading Date
It May Have More Truth Than You Can Handles
Whether you realize it or not, you probably know someone who was sexually assaulted as a teenager or young adult. I know more than one such person and have witnessed, without quite understanding, the gripping agony such an event can cause. This book takes you into that painful place with such power that you may find it difficult to read, as I did, if you or anyone close to you has lived with the aftermath of an assault of this type.
It tells the story of a teenage girl, struggling with the normal stresses of school, grades, fitting in with her social circle, dealing with the hateful outbursts of a sibling, and desperately seeking a place where she can feel safe, secure, and loved. At the same time, she cannot ask for help from anyone, because she is convinced that the burden she carries is her own fault. Her self loathing leads to isolation and self harm, all while wearing her game face with her friends and family. Even as they recognize something is wrong, none of them could guess why and believe her excuses. Only the patient intervention of a similarly tortured soul helps break down her barriers.
The plot itself could be ordinary, but the delivery is what gives this book it's power. Courtney Stevens has built a masterful narrative that draws the reader into the psyche of her main character with amazing power, and she leaves you haunted with her nightmares. Emma Gavin is the perfect narrator for this novel, and it is worth listening to for her performance alone. As a fan of Gavin's other performances, I believe this is among her best.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered about the inner workings of the mind of someone who has lost her virginity to an assailant, or anyone ready to be swept into that place. A warning: if you have lived through such a trauma, I don't know whether you will find this book cathartic or simply unbearable. I am sure the author intends the former, but she may have done too good of a job here.