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Goodreads Summary-The debut novel of an American original, Laurie Plissner's is both medical thriller and lyric love story in the tradition of magical realism
Since the snowy night when her family's car slammed into a tree, killing her parents and little sister, Sasha has been unable to speak except through a computer with a robotic voice. Nothing is wrong with her body; that's healed. But, after four years, Sasha's memory, and her spirit, are still broken. Then one day, she's silently cussing out the heavy book she dropped at the library when a gorgeous, dark-haired boy, the kind of boy who considers Sasha a freak or at least invisible, "answers" Sasha's hidden thoughts -- out loud. Yes, Ben can read minds; it's no big deal. He's part of a family with a host of unusual, almost-but-not-quite-supernatural talents. Through Ben's love, Sasha makes greater progress than she has with a host of therapists and a prominent psychiatrist. With him to defend her, bullies keep the world from ever understanding Sasha, he pulls away. Determined to win him and prove her courage by facing her past, Sasha confronts her past -- only to learn that her family's death was no accident and that a similar fate may wait for her, in the unlikeliest of disguises.
Okay so I think the summary above does little to make sense of this novel. First it's Sasha's older sister that is killed in the car crash. Sasha goes to live with her mom's sister and her husband who had decided not to have children because of their law careers. But lucky for Sasha, they are kind and loving people who, if they don't get it right it's not for lack of trying, it's more for lack of knowing how. Charlotte, her aunt, tends to be neurotic and a bit dramatic but Stuart, Charlotte's husband always seems to be able to say one word to bring her back to sensible reason and he can talk her out of any kind of kooky scheme like talking to Ben when Sasha and Ben break up.
So while we're on the subject of Sasha and Ben, yes, Ben can read minds. There is a funny little scene in the library where he dares to invade Sasha's private little sofa area and then she's trying to look at him on the sly and with every thought about how sexy he is his smile grows despite the rather serious book he's reading by Sartre. At this point, and throughout the book, her only forms of communication are through a computer generated voice box and a piece of paper and pen. She leaves in a huff at his apparent amusement only to make a stupid girl mistake, walking through a park in the dark alone. (This is the second book I've read where this happened. Are teenage girls really that dumb?) And when Ben rescues her from something truly frightening she finds out about him being able to read her mind. Also, she doesn't report the incident he rescues her from like she should. Again, I know it's traumatic but why let them get away with it. They picked her because she couldn't tell, because she was mute. It left me uncomfortable, especially when Ben told her she was beautiful afterwords. Creepy. They do begin a relationship which Sasha has no experience with and is clearly not ready for. Her hormones are leading the charge very inexpertly and with a guy that can read her every desire it's very awkward. Thankfully, Ben is more of a gentleman than most men and he keeps things at a slow and chaste pace until the breakup.
Sasha's biggest problem is that she can't talk. She can't remember the accident nor anything leading up to the accident including her childhood. The renowned PTSD psychiatrist working with her has had no success with her after four years. But then Sasha starts doing a few things on her own and discovers some secret notes at the crash site and fresh flowers and realizes that maybe there was another car there. She has a wonderful best friend that I would have loved to have seen more of but what I did see was someone that was loyal to a fault. This girl was very popular, head cheerleader, boyfriends by the handful, but she pushed all that away to stand beside her friend and never minded the talking machine she used. Jules never gave up on the idea that Sasha would one day get her voice back. She went on stake outs and fact finding missions with her. She was as loyal as a hound dog.
And Ben, though he had the best intentions when he broke up with Sasha, finally realizes the error of his ways. But I didn't like how all over the place he was. He seemed too good to be true, but then he played with Sasha's emotions.
But he did come through in the clutch. And his mother was a wonderful healer for Sasha and mother figure for her.
In all, I really enjoyed the book except for the fact that attempted rapes aren't reported as I've seen in several other books. Why? I think this encourages girls to keep silent. NO! Speak out. Don't stay quiet. It really bothers me that the police didn't get involved although some revenge was exacted upon them. The mystery part of the story lead somewhere I hadn't even thought about so that part was well done. I hadn't even considered that person being involved in the crash. So that was a complete surprise. And again, this one is a nail biter to the very last sentence.
I'd recommend this one to contemporary readers that don't mind a dash of magic with their romances. All the questions about sex and flirting and relationships with the opposite sex were difficult for even me to answer so I felt Sasha's angst. And I could only imagine her pain at the loss she suffered. In all it was a solid story, just a few pet peeves touched on.
Definitely for a mature YA reader as a lot of focus on sex.
I received a copy of this novel from Merit Press through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review.