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‘In my mind, he was a tortured, brilliant artist, and I could be the one who helped him, who figured him out. So it became my mission.’

Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed by Christine Dore Miller has a compelling synopsis and the story captured us immediately, what with its morose and emotional tone. The writing is superb and has an undercurrent of hopelessness and dejection. We are in awe that this is the first book by this debut Author, it was well written and touched on hard-hitting topics.

“What happens between us in private stays private. Okay?”

This Teen YA story deals with horrifically sensitive and extremely pertinent issues in today’s society. You’ve only got to turn on the news or scroll through social media to find stories like these on an almost regular basis. And those are only the ones we know or hear about or have been publicised. There’s still a dreadful silence and uncomfortable avoidance where topics of relationship abuse, violence, and sexual aggression are concerned. However, with the #metoo campaign, hopefully, awareness and support will be given, become a right and a deterrent.

‘I didn’t cry this time. And I was proud of that. Maybe I was getting better at this. Maybe he would be proud of me too.’

Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed is not an easy read, however, it is an extremely important and a compelling read. The characters are well developed and relevant, their story an honest spotlight on what is sadly real –relationship- life for some, for many, for people we know and don’t know.  It just takes that one person to notice, to care and not let go.

‘I smiled back at people who smiled at me, I answered questions when I was called on, but I otherwise just existed. I just took up space, floating through the halls, sitting in desks. And it was…easy, comfortable. And at this point, that felt like a win. Nobody got upset, nobody was worried, nobody was bothered. And that was a very welcome change.’

Whilst this is a fictional story it should be read by every young adult, parent or grandparent. Andrea could be a friend, a daughter or a granddaughter. Her life, in some parts or all, could be that of someone in your life. It is not impossible nor implausible. A healthy relationship is not a given. Sixteen year old, Andrea’s story is emotionally raw, tragic, yet beautiful in its strength and hope as she manoeuvres teenage life, wanting to be accepted and loved. Finding herself. Sometimes the skin within which we live can feel ‘too tight’ in the sense that our emotions, our worries, our pain feels overwhelming and we’re unable to release them. The path of ‘release’ someone choses to breathe, overcome and exist is what matters the most. Our heart broke for Andrea and the path on which she finds relief. However, it’s okay not to accept what you’re forced to live with, it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to say no, no more. I deserve better. I am worth more.

‘I told myself I had very few options now. I could just exist and accept that this was my life from now on. I’d be broken, but at least I’d be alive.’

We feel exhausted after Andrea’s journey and have to admit that whilst we felt like we could breathe at the end with some kind of comfort, we needed more. Perhaps an epilogue, just something. When you go through the ringer you need that extra bright light at the end. We’re so glad we picked this book up. What a read!

“I feel like this isn’t real…”I said, closing my eyes tightly.
“Open your eyes, beautiful,” he said, his hand stroking my cheek. “This is very, very real.”

Synopsis

Naïve sixteen-year-old Andrea Cavanaugh is elated when Josh, a charismatic, bright-eyed piano prodigy, becomes her first boyfriend. But the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that he is not the boy she first fell for.

In its poignancy and emotional darkness, Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed takes you deep into the delicate and devastating web of shame that spirals from the depths of dating violence when dreamy teenage love turns dark. Andrea must find not only an escape, but a belief that she is even worthy of freedom.

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