Reviewed by Jenny & Gitte
G&J 5 Stars
Gitte: What an emotional tearjerker of a read this was. I think I sat with a huge lump in my throat the whole time reading. The writing was truly beautiful and the story which shows the past as well as the present was so raw and gripping my heart was so full of cracks by the time I’d finished. The agony, the tragedy, the horror, the loss, the hope and the love was extreme and intense yet handled with such care, attention and realism that I felt every word and everything the characters went through. Human behaviour and consequences are never black and white, decidedly right or wrong neither are decisions taken lightly or made rationally at all times. Love is never easy nor is it ever forgotten. Love is painful and it bloody hurts. This story was so well developed, as were the characters that I fully connected and it was as if I was experiencing this as it was playing out.
…….Please don’t hate me.
Please don’t think that you weren’t wanted.
Please don’t hate me.
All I can really say is that ‘Dear Emily’ is one of those stories that should be on everyone’s to read list right Jenny?
Jenny: You’re spot on Gitte. This is definitely one of those books you want to implore everyone to read because it had such a profound effect on me also.
It was poignant, real, moving and so terribly heart-breaking, yet with moments of sheer joy as the story of these two damaged women who forged a bond through a gesture of selflessness and pain on one side and hope and joy on the other had their past and present told with such love, tenderness, empathy and sensitivity that it almost felt as if I was reading someone’s personal journal, as if I was sharing the pain, loss and journey with the characters first hand like you Gitte.
‘For the first time in months, my best friends and Kyle surround me, and I feel ok. Actually, better than ok. I feel wonderful, protected, and loved.’ – Carly
Dear Emily was sincere, moving and resonated with me with such in depth and realistic characterization. It was a beautifully written story of love, loss and sacrifice and was detailed with aching. Dear Emily told the story of two women who had suffered unthinkable tragedies that would ultimately bring them together. Heartrending, painful, real and unforgettable.
Gitte: We follow Tabitha and Carly; two young women whose paths meet and forever changes lives. Both have seen and experienced real pain and tragedy. Both have had to make life altering decisions. Both have been marked by trauma. I suffered and cried for them. I rejoiced at their chance of love and hope. I agonised with them in their decisions and the consequences. I despaired at whether the right was wrong or the wrong was right.
‘I’m jealous of her. Of her life. Of what she is. Of everything that I am not. I think I hate her a little.’
Tabitha, poor sweet girl, abandoned, betrayed, beaten and alone. She believes she’s broken and beyond repair yet in her extreme vulnerability she shows such strength in adversity, she shows pure heart and unselfishness. How many times in life do you get knocked down before you cease to stand back up again? How do you recognise love when it’s never existed in your life? How do you find hope and inspiration to be who you can be and who you want to be when you’ve been labelled as damaged and disturbed?
‘She is perfect. She is not me. Therefore she is perfect.’
This girl had the biggest wall to climb and I was behind her all the way hoping she would find what she truly deserved. Seth or Alex? Two men that come into her life at a crucial time and are a huge part of Tabitha’s changing path where she once again must sacrifice her love by giving the most precious gift away to another.
‘I need to take this one step at a time and learn how to be close to someone again. Learn how to trust again. Learn how to be me. I don’t even know who I am.’
And then we have the sweet and innocent wronged Carly. Well, I’ll leave this amazing woman and her path to you Jenny….
Jenny: Thanks Gitte, Carly’s story of longing, wanting and needing a child in her life touched me deeply and resonated with me. I connected with her on a personal level over her longing for a child, a family with the man she loves. I understood her and I ached and hurt with her. This woman had truly suffered emotionally and physically and bore the pain and scars of her tragic past. Carly was truly blessed to have a man like Kyle by her side. Kyle was the epitome of a book hero. This guy stood by her, comforted her, loved her and never judged or belittled her. He lifted her up when she was at her lowest and he chased away the demons from her past. He was her saviour and the love they shared could be felt deep in your soul. These were absolute soul mates and watching their relationship grow was truly mesmerising.
“I want you. I want us.”
“I love you, Carly.” – Kyle
The contrast in the letters written to Emily from Tabitha and Carly is so telling. Whilst Carly’s journal entries to Emily are filled with joy, anticipation, longing and love……
How do I start a letter to a child I have yet to meet? A child that has always been in our hearts? We have always dreamed of you, Emily….We are hoping, waiting, praying.
Love and Kisses, Momma.’
Tabitha’s are filled with loss, sadness and self-doubt. It really does pull at your heartstrings to read these letters. You want so much for both to find happiness, love and peace with their decisions.
The past, present and pov switches flowed perfectly and each voice lends so much to this story. The parallel storytelling was faultless and gripped me from the very first page. How could you not be dragged into this story from an opening such as the one we experienced?
Kyle and Carly had a love that stood the test of time and they had love in abundance. They have love to share with a child and I so desperately wanted their wish to come true, but for every bit of happiness I craved for Kyle and Carly, at the other end of the spectrum was Tabitha’s unhappiness….and for that reason I was torn. I cried for Carly and I wept for Tabitha. All deserved happiness and peace.
‘I imagine your Daddy outside playing with you……….your giggles are making my heart race with excitement….this is your future, Emily. This is our future. We will be a forever family. My heart is bursting with Love.
Momma & Daddy’
G&J: We can honestly say that this story had a profound effect on us. As Mum’s; giving your own flesh and blood away is unimaginable. However, this is the heart-breaking decision many women have to face for a variety of reasons. Our heart bleeds for these women yet it also rejoices for the women who receive such an amazing gift.
What an astounding story this was and we applaud the Author for bringing us on a truly beautiful and heart-wrenching journey. Having the voices of both Tabitha and Carly made sure that we truly understood each perspective and the turmoil they both went through. We understood how they came to be at the point their paths met, we felt every emotion and tragedy as we experienced life with them, we cried and we smiled. We found inspiration and hope. We can’t wait for Tabitha’s story to continue. That ending!!! What a truly breath-taking, compelling and beautifully stirring debut from Trudy Stiles.
‘I’ll find my happily ever after. It just isn’t now.’
ARC supplied by author in exchange for an honest review
FOREVER FAMILY SERIES by TRUDY STYLES