First, I’d like to thank Missy Johnson for gifting the book to me. The central character of this story has been the victim of a brutal sexual assault at the age of 10. Tragedy is an essential component of fiction; without it we’d be forced to read fluff chick lit all the time. Yet it is a form of drama that is not always handled correctly. Some authors delve too deep towards the depressing, a tactic that will lose readers fast. But Missy Johnson avoided this path. She’s not only a fluid writer but she makes it evident this story is about the protagonist’s healing process and road to recovery.A Brief Synopsis
Twenty year old Emma is not your typical college student living in New York City. She suffered a brutal attack at the tender age of 10 and bears not only permanent physical wounds but also psychological damage. Her two best friends have created a support system for her, but it’s not enough to fight off her severe agoraphobia and the recurring nightmares from the incident. When an email to her professor asking about an assignment turns into a flirtatious banter, Emma begins to forget that her attacker has been released on parole. As the beautiful and hotly pursued professor Simon gets to know Emma, she wonders if he’s just the one to help her forget her past and finally move on.Now Let’s Break It Down
I’ll admit I was uneasy reading this book in the beginning because of the subject matter. I’m sure others feel this way too: When I hear about rape incidents in the news, it disturbs me more than the stray murder here and there. I never can comprehend why any one in their right mind would want to attack anyone — especially a young child — in this way. But that’s just it. They’re not in their right mind. Usually they are a sociopath with a psychological disorder, like the protagonist’s attacker in this book.
I felt very immersed in this story from the beginning. Missy Johnson painted a very realistic portrait of what it’s like to be a sexual assault victim tormented years after the incident. Emma did not experience a typical assault; she was held captive for three long days, the reason she suffers from agoraphobia — an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer perceives their environment as one where they are unable to escape or get help. For this reason she never leaves her apartment, a restriction that seriously impedes her college experience and life in general.
Emma undergoes a huge transformation in this book, and (without trying to give away any details) I was surprised by how brave she became near the end. The book ends with a cliffhanger, but it’s not one of those ‘sudden’ ones that comes out of nowhere. It sets up for the sequel nicely.
One thing I thought was a bit strange was how fast the romance between Emma and Simon progressed. I was expecting it to be more drawn out with Emma taking more time to get close to Simon, provided her traumatic experience. I think the story would have been a bit stronger and more suspenseful if there were more tense, dramatic, frustrating moments between the two before they became obviously a couple.
This is a fantastic professor-student romance mixed with tragedy. The story flowed almost seamlessly, excluding a handful of grammatical errors and some unusual slang. In the end it’s a beautiful story of hope and moving on from anguish towards contentment.
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