Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
J&G: 4.5 Stars
“Don’t let pain keep you from moving forward.”
We first met Kiersten’s friend Gabe in Ruin and if we thought we loved the glimpses we saw of him then… well, we have to say, we are absolutely head over heels for this guy now after reading his story. Sharing his heartache and hearing his painful secrets and tragic past and his hopes and dreams for the future.
‘….but when a person’s so stuck in their own hole of darkness – it hurts like hell when someone shines a light on them. ‘
Gabe was the man about town, a fun loving man slut, for want of a better word, who didn’t do emotion, didn’t do relationships and seemed to have completely shut down his heart to love but we always knew he had a big heart through the love, protection, friendship and hope he shared with Wes and Kiersten.
In Toxic we learn so much about the man, his past, his despair, his guilt and the responsibility for one split decision that changed his life and the lives of those around him. Here is a man carrying a heavy load who had tried to drown his pain in alcohol, drugs and meaningless sex.
“Hate’s a good emotion.”….”Fill your heart with hate, then maybe it won’t hurt as much. That’s what I always say.”
Gabe’s story was so incredibly moving and you can’t help but unashamedly shed tears over his predicament. Gabe’s loyalty was so admirable. He never shirked his responsibility and the lengths he went to ensuring his loved ones were protected was heartbreaking yet inspirational.
“Just because we aren’t crying on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t completely wrecked on the inside.”
We have to say, we had NO idea what was hiding beneath Gabe’s exterior. Gabe’s world could be a downright depressing place at times but this guy was truly amazing and we loved him dearly. His story is told with a huge helping of sadness and deep emotion which is lightly peppered with humour, mostly between him and Wes which we loved. Getting a glimpse into this bro-mance was so much fun and at times deeply moving. You sensed that Wes really ‘got’ Gabe and this book certainly had moments of true beauty.
This was another winner from Rachel Van Dyken for us. The music theme she intrinsically wove through the story brought a depth to not only her characters, but the story as a whole. It was handled so beautifully and we were enthralled with the way the author threaded this all together. As music lovers we got it, we felt it and we were completely moved by it.
‘Music wasn’t really music unless your soul was exposed, unless your heart was either bursting or breaking.’
Gabe’s epiphany in Ruin was just the tip of the iceberg in getting inside this tortured man’s soul, who possessed an overpowering instinct to protect the ones he loved. You feel his anguish, compassion, his hope, his joy and his sorrow. The foreboding you feel throughout the story is counteracted with some tender and heart-warming moments experienced between Gabe and Saylor, who was a beautiful character albeit slightly naïve and childish for her age at times, and also between Wes and Gabe.
‘I could take away his pain. If there was a way to transfer it from his soul onto mine. I would take it.’
Toxic was moving, sad, stirring and inspirational. Rachel Van Dyken has a supremely faultless way of telling a moving and sincere story that will give even the most unhopeful of us, hope.
Music is life – maybe that’s why I’d abandoned it for so long. I didn’t feel like I deserved life – not anymore.
Gabe, you left us breathless!
ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review
Check out and purchase the Ruin Series here: