I received a finished copy from Viking Books in exchange for an honest review!
CW: child sexual abuse, grooming, drug misuse, sexual assault, and PTSD
When I got home from Portland, this was a surprise for me! It’s not usually a genre I reach for, nor is it a topic that I like reading about. Sexual assault is content that I don’t read because it bothers me. As it should, of course, but it just is one of those things that bothers me.
Skye is an art student in high school, going out for a competitive scholarship at an art school. All she has is her mom and her younger sister, Emma. There are some friends as well — Luisa and Ben. And, she harbors a secret. She uses drugs and alcohol to mask that pain and to bury it down so no one knows.
And then her mother starts dating the man who assaulted her.
Her younger sister is her age when it happened and, as it does, it all comes bubbling back up.
The story is largely told in the present, but there are flashbacks to Dan (the abuser) before the assault, when it happened (which is told in graphic detail, so take care with that), and after when she starts using drugs, alcohol, and sex to cope. For me, this was so well written. It really felt like an accurate description of grooming and the coping of what comes after.
I just loved how this was a story of discovery and realization that these are unsafe coping skills, along with finally realizing that someone has to say something to get it to stop. Otherwise, Emma would have been next no matter how hard Skye had tried to protect her over the years and especially once Dan comes back.
As I said, this was just a glorious book. I’m so glad that I had the chance to read it. It wasn’t perfect but it was just fantastic. I love that these books exist for people who need it, that they can find themselves in fiction and go with the character to discover that they do the same thing.
This was a very impressive debut and I know I’ll be reading whatever Sibson publishes next!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What contemporary would you recommend?