As some people may have noticed I’ve been expanding my reading horizons lately. Today’s book is neither mystery or romance. Who We are Instead is a coming of age novel about two sisters, difficult family relationships, and emotional scars.
Note (December 2017): The author has rereleased this book under the title Before You Break with a new cover (not the cover shown here).
Description (from Amazon)
Twenty-one-year-old Lena McKenna thought she escaped her past when she earned a photography scholarship to a top university. It’s been two years since she’s been home. Two years since she’s seen her troubled younger sister Lux or set foot in the house haunted by the memories of her dead mother.
Everything changes the day her father suffers a massive heart attack. Lena rushes home, only to discover that Lux has disappeared. Lena has no choice but to put her dreams on hold to find her sister and care for her dying father. Immersed in the memories of her childhood, she begins to uncover the long-buried secrets that broke her family.
Eighteen-year-old Lux doesn’t want to remember. Nothing keeps the dark at bay, not her new drug-dealing boyfriend or her descent into reckless self-destruction. She’ll do anything to forget. Anything.
As their father’s condition worsens, Lux leaves a trail of devastation in her wake. Lena must choose: escape her past and leave her sister behind, or turn and face the demons threatening to destroy them both.
Who We Are Instead explores the volatile relationship between sisters and the way we blur the lines between loyalty and obligation, truth and deception, honor and betrayal.
This is a well-written, moving tale that provides a candid look at troubled family relationships. The first-person narrative alternates between Lina and Lux’s point of view, providing insight into the differences in how they see things. Both Lena and Lux are struggling in their own ways as they face their father’s imminent death. They each remember different things from their childhood and have secrets they share with no0ne – not even each other. Lux uses substance abuse and ‘hook-ups’ to escape, she swears a lot, and lashes out at friends. Her stream of conscious style narrative highlights her mood swings and growing dependence on drugs. Lena wants to help her, but has no idea how to heal their relationship. As the story progresses, both characters learn about themselves and strive to heal their emotional scars.
The author takes on tough issues in this book – dysfunctional families, betrayal, drug abuse, and suicide. For this reason, although this book might be suitable for some mature YA readers, I am not sure I would recommend it for most teens.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
News Flash: Who We Are Instead is on sale for $0.99 for limited time only!