Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review: Live Through This by Mindi Scott

Title: Live Through This

Author: Mindi Scott

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I have very mixed feelings when it comes to Live Through This, but my most overwhelming emotion is simply disappointment. There is no denying that Scott's sophomore novel is a struggle to get through, full of emotion and nuanced writing that truly brings to light the psychological horrors of abuse, but at the same time, it could have been so much more. When the novel begins, Coley experiences a shocking moment – one that she wishes she shared with a boyfriend instead of her abuser. It becomes very obvious that Coley’s abuser is someone very close to her, which makes her situation all the more complex. And yet, after this gripping scene, the next half of the novel is devoted to details of Coley’s every day life, from her dance practices to her blooming romance with a saxophone player, Reece, to a vacation she spends skiing.

For me, this is possibly the weakest part of the novel. While I appreciated that Scott took the pains to paint for us the image of a seemingly normal girl who hid the truth of abuse and later shattered her life with her continued abuse, I felt strangely detached from the tale. Quite simply put, Coley did not capture me. I felt sympathy for her and her difficult position, but not much else. Coley and her elder brother, Bryan, have always stuck together ever since their mother re-married and gave birth to triplets, but I could never understand why Coley and Bryan detested their step-father the way they did. As far as evil step-fathers go, Tony doesn’t even deserve to be on the list. It was small aspects of the story like this one that simply didn’t connect together for me and I found myself questioning Coley more than I did immersing myself in her tale.

And yet, I cannot deny that the manner in which Scott writes this story of abuse is raw and powerful. It is eerily frightening and honest, making this a novel that truly is for older readers. In addition to the carefully written plot line of abuse, though, I appreciated that Scott took the time to discuss sex and sexuality in this book, especially as it pertained to teenage girls. Instead of the classic sex discussion between girlfriends, Scott took it further to explore the idea that it is okay for girls to seek sexual pleasure – a concept that seems to elude most of YA and disappear amidst slut-shaming. Even the so-called “slut” or “anti-heroine” of this novel is explored in increasing depth, which increased my respect for this book immensely.

Live Through This honestly has a lot to offer to readers, but its abrupt ending left me wanting more. It wasn’t enough for me to read about Coley’s situation and her journey into accepting that it was wrong, despite the fact that she cared for her abuser; I wanted to see Coley deal with the after effects too, not to mention her abuser as well. Not only did I finish this book with too many questions, but as I mentioned before, many small plot points didn’t connect together for me in the cogent way I wanted them too. In some ways, I believe there is too much in this story, from abuse to friendship issues to jealousy to best-friend-who-is-a-boy-but-just-a-friend…somehow, all of this didn’t connect in the seamless manner I wished. Thus, while Live Through This manages to be an excellent novel in terms of exploring an abusive relationship, it isn’t the perfect or emotionally-gutting book I was expecting. If you’re up for a read that is most certainly very different, though, in a mostly good way, then Live Through This is definitely for you.


  1. I could see exactly why you had mixed feelings. I was wondering if it was for me until the end. I don't love those kind of endings. I guess if the next book rocks then maybe, but not for now. Brilly review!

  2. It's such a shame when a book doesn't live up to its full potential (especially a book with such a pretty cover), but I can understand why you didn't like this more. I like that the writer took the time to craft out a very real character and write about things not often talked about in YA books, but the middle part of the book doesn't quite pull me in either. Sorry this didn't work out for you, Keertana! Lovely review. :)

  3. Ahhhh I'm sorry this book didn't reach its full potential. I've been meaning to read this, but now I'm thinking I most likely won't. I hate when books try to tackle too many things, and it becomes overwhelming and messy. And that first half of the book would bother me too. Great review, Keertana!

  4. It's too bad that such a powerful book lacked the follow-through to live up to its very important premise. Mindi's writing has always succeeded for me, so I'll definitely still try it, but I worry that I feel just as lost and left in the cold as you did. I appreciate your honest take on this, Keertana! :)

  5. Well I like that it presents sex in a positive way and bypasses the slut shaming that can be found so often in YA, but based on your other remarks about this book I will probably skip this one for now. Thanks for the honest review, Keertana:)

  6. I have heard of this story and unfortunately I've heard more than I wanted to know. So now that I know the main mystery this book is no longer interesting to me. I'm sorry to heard that this book disappointed you. Great review Keertana :)

    1. Aww, to have the mystery ruined in this one is a definite shame, Tanja. I doubt you'd enjoy the book much in that case, but maybe another of Scott's works will work out for you (and me too)!

  7. Hm. We don't always have the same reaction to books, so I'm still undecided about whether to give this one a go. I have a hit or miss relationship with "problem" books, but some of the things that bothered you actually interest me about it, so...maybe, maybe. :) Given Tanja's comment above, though, I should probably stop reading more reviews of this and just resolve to try it before things get spoiled for me.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. I haven't read Freefall so I wouldn't know what to expect to begin with, but I'm sorry you were so disappointed.
    For me, this book never even stood a chance, to be honest. There's abuse, and I just can't put myself through that, no matter how amazingly written it may be. But since it proved to be a disappointment, I feel better about being a coward.
    Lovely review as usual!

  9. Augh, it's seriously so disappointed when a book has potential! I'm glad that it was at least powerful even if it was lacking in other aspects. Thanks for your honest review!

  10. I think an inability to really connect with or understand a protagonist is one of the most frustrating experiences a reader can encounter. I'm sorry you felt this way about this book, Keertana! It can be difficult to appreciate other aspects of a novel if that connection isn't there, but at least it sounds like you got some enjoyment in terms of the discussions on abuse and sexual pleasure. Perhaps Scott will combine her relevant discussions with a stronger protagonist a future novel. Until then, I think I'll wait to give her a chance.

  11. I think you probably know that this isn't my sort of book! I'm not brave enough to throw myself into something like this, but I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't as emotionally moving as you might have expected. Still, lovely review as always!

  12. I don't know that I would've picked this book up without your review, but I'm less inclined now. The cover is gorgeous but the description doesn't capture my attention. Sorry this wasn't what you expected, Keertana. Great honest review. :)

  13. I've heard some great things about this book but I'm still nervous about picking it up because of the subject matter. I think you're one of the few reviews I've seen rate it less than 5 stars. I still don't know if it's something I'd want to read, but your review has given me more to think about.



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