Author: Nina Marie Gardener

Publisher: Future Fiction London

ISBN: 978-0-9827928-2-7

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As the mother of women roughly the same age as the protagonist Mary, I found this novel both a compelling and a heartrending read. It opens with graphic narrative scenes of Mary, drunk and drugged, participating in sexual acts with random partners. Later there is a flashback to an actual rape and beating. Throughout I wondered what was the childhood history that propelled this young woman to put herself in such danger.

The novel soon moves into a pattern of dialogue carried on via emails and texts between Mary and her new, sweet love, Jake. Mary is a playwright so carrying the story forward this way makes sense and the author is extremely good at it. The emails and texts between Mary and Jake bring a smile to the face and a flutter to the heart. The time spent waiting for those emails and texts inspires anxiety.

The reader feels each moment along with the character. There is also the undercurrent of tension between Mary and her mother. A brief telephone conversation between them is particularly poignant, giving the reader a hint of a painful and complex history in very few words. In fact, the entire book moved along like a film in my mind’s eye and I think it could be easily transformed into an excellent film. Jake, not a bad guy but an indecisive one, ultimately lets Mary down and I don’t think I’m spoiling the story by disclosing that since the end of their sweet affair is skillfully foreshadowed throughout.

Then, when it seems Mary has hit bottom, two miracles occur at the very end: she rescues a dog from a cruel and brutal death and two strangers turn out to be kind and help her in this endeavor. Of course she is overwhelmed in a good way by this kindness from strangers who in the past she had learned to fear, so the book ends on an upbeat note that begs for a sequel. In fact, since the details of Mary’s family and childhood history are never explained and given the enticing nature of this book, I would like to see both a prequel and a sequel because the author made me care deeply about what past moved Mary into this particularly painful present, as well as what her future holds: hopefully sobriety, self awareness and appreciation, and the unconditional love of dogs. I recommend this book be read when the reader has time to read it start to finish, you won’t want to put it down.

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