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.