Monday, March 17, 2014

Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters Release Day Launch and Review

Reclaiming the Sand Synopsis:

Bully and victim. 
Tormenter and tormented. 
Villain and hero. 

Ellie Mccallum was the bully. The Tormenter. The Villain. Taking what she wanted, stomping over anyone that got in her way. Feelings, futures, and relationships be damned. She felt no emotional connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable. 

Particularly Freaky Flynn. 

Growing up, Flynn Hendrick was known only as “Freaky Flynn.” He lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.

But then Flynn and Ellie grew up. 

And moved on.

Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.

When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other. 

And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.

But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the farther you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.

Buy Links:

My Review!

This is the first book I've read by A. Meredith Walters, and it definitely won't be the last. What a beautifully written, powerful novel about bullying, second chances, and a love that defies the wrongdoings of the past and that leads to a brighter future.

Rating: 4.5 stars!

I was nervous about starting Reclaiming the Sand. I've read many novels where a character has some kind of developmental disorder/mental health problem. I've even read Look Me in the Eye, which is a true novel about a guy with Asperger's and how he lived. It was interesting, to say the least. But most of the time, books don't do them justice. Case in point: Song of the Fireflies and Patch Up. I thought the way the mental health problems in those characters were horribly portrayed and terribly written. It made me cautious going into this novel. 

But I respect the hell out of the author for how she portrayed Flynn and his Asperger's syndrome. It's a developmental disorder that is hard to handle and not always diagnosable because it closely resembles Autism. If you have Asperger's, you don't understand social rules, don't have any empathy, and don't know how to interact with other people very well. Basically, it makes you a sociopath. And the author made me absolutely adore Flynn and his quirks. His Asperger's was very well written; his POV was very believable and real. It was handled with such genuine care.

Now, I had a hard time liking Ellie McCallum. She's a product of the ever helpful foster care system, and she's grown up in tough situations and with a harsh attitude. Her life is work, friends who don't give a damn about her, and parties every night. She's never tried to make her life any better, until she looks at a brochure for the community college. It's a choice that puts her on the path to a brighter future, one she's only beginning to recognize and want for herself. 

But that all changes when she sees Flynn again. These two have a history, one filled with hateful words and tentative smiles. A bond formed between them long ago, even when teenage rebellion and a night of wanting to show off destroys it. 

I loved the development of Ellie's and Flynn's relationship. It was believably genuine and real, full of firsts and lasts, filled with forgiveness and warmth. Flynn has come a long way from the teenager he used to be, but he's still trying to read facial expressions and still trying to understand social norms. Ellie has changed, but not by much. She's still a little embittered about life, and it takes her a long time to stand up for hers and Flynn's relationship. But that was believable, because Ellie isn't one to just change for one person. She has to make changes for herself. She comes to realize that, without Flynn and his caring, beautiful heart, she will still be back to square one unless she can open up and let him in. And it takes a strong person to understand someone like Flynn and still stay by his side through it all. Ellie is most unselfish when it comes to him, because she loves him more than she's ever loved anybody. More than she loves herself. And Flynn is a forgiving person who has never stopped loving her.

Forget secondary characters, though. They all suck. Dania, especially. I thought Ellie should just sever all ties with that bitch. When Dania needed Ellie's help, I got pissed that she actually went and was okay with everything that that selfish, needy, jealous character gave her all these years. I don't care if she said sorry; it's not enough. 

Reclaiming the Sand was about second chances, forgiveness, and healing. It was about two characters who bonded over their mutual aloneness and about being outsiders. It was about a girl who just wanted a life she could be proud of and a boy who was only trying to be normal. This book was powerful, a truly amazing love story between a "bad girl" and a boy with Asperger's. 


A. Meredith Walters  Bio:

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.

When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.