Review: Cure by Brenda Zalegowski

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Warning:   If you are expecting an in-depth review of this book with complete character analysis and a detailed plot summary, you’ve come to the wrong place.  If, however, you’re looking for a simple directive to read an outstanding book, then carry on.

Let me also preface this very short, brief review by saying that you really must read Brenda’s debut novel, Behind the Falls.  Yes, it’s the precursor to this outstanding story.  And no, it’s not imperative to understanding and loving Cure.  But it will help you fall in love with the characters even more.

This is a story of love and loss, things that we are all familiar with.  Love never comes easy, but then most things worth having never do.  And young love, teen love especially, is that much more difficult.  There are tears and there are smiles.  There are lives lost and lives saved.  And there’s closure, of some sort at least.  Yes, you’ll recognize many of the characters from the first story.  And you’ll meet some new ones.

And that’s all you’re going to get.  I’ve never been one to write a synopsis of a story and call it a review, but I do usually give a bit more than you’re getting with this one.  But I just can’t with this one.  You’ll just have to trust me.  Read Behind the Falls.  And then read this one.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Cure

Review: Behind the Falls by Brenda Zalegowski

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Disclaimer #1: This book was reviewed several weeks earlier by our very own Urania. This is my perspective on it.

Disclaimer #2: The author is a friend of mine, and I’m sure she’s a friend to many of you as well. That’s both good and bad. Good because it’s an honor to share someone’s creative work. And bad because, well, if it’s really no good how do you address that? It’s like seeing someone’s really ugly baby. What do you say? But there are no such book-related worries in this case because the book truly is exceptional on so many levels.

Noah is barely sixteen but yet has faced so many issues in his young life. Burdened with panic and anxiety disorders from a very young age, he struggles with how exactly to be normal. And then his somewhat predictable world is shaken up as his family decides move to a new town. Not only that, but Noah will be going to public school for the first time. Enough to send even the most well-adjusted (if there is such a thing) teen over the edge.

Thankfully there’s a friendly face in the crowd. A hand reaches out to him on his very first day, and Noah doesn’t feel so lost anymore. When Max welcomes Noah into his world, it’s more than he could have ever hoped for. He begins to feel “normal” for the very first time in his life, whatever that word truly means.

Noah’s inner demons aren’t so easily silenced, though. His struggles continue as does his battle to hide it from his new friends. If he could only find the strength to be honest with them as well as with himself, and about so many different things.

And this is where my summary ends. Because to give anything else away would spoil it. And this is a book that you just have to read and feel for the very first time without any preconceived notions or ideas about what you’re supposed to think. I’m glad I didn’t when I read it, and I’m doing the same for you.

So the obvious…
This is a very long book, clocking in at just under 700 pages. And I admit, as have several other reviewers, that the length was a bit daunting at first. I found myself getting bogged down in the beginning, wondering if the lengthy narrative and internal dialogue were really necessary. But I felt a pull, something compelling me to keep going. And yes, part of the reason was because, well, friends.

Still, at about the halfway point I realized that it worked for this book. Noah’s story really couldn’t be told in a lesser manner. The sometimes rambling dialogue is surely reminiscent of what must be going on inside the head of somebody with a panic/anxiety disorder. And more importantly, such detailed descriptions of the characters as well as background info made me feel for them, connect with them on a level not achieved by all authors. In fact, I’m so invested with Noah and Max, even Tabitha, that several days later I still can’t get them out of my head. I want more!

And another caveat. It’s a very heavy book. Heavy on the emotions, heavy on the subject matter. But so is life. Not a reason to avoid it. Still, it’s probably a book that’s best suited for older teens and adults. Now crossing my fingers and hoping there’s a sequel in the works…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Behind the Falls

Review: Behind the Falls by Brenda Z

25400942This book starts out with Noah in a car traveling halfway across the country with his parents to go live in his grandmother’s house. Because I kinda know this author and because I did not ask what this book was about (remember I try not to know anything about the book I am about to read)….I half way expected old granny to be kept in the shed in the back garden feeding on live chickens. Yes….a zombie book wouldn’t have surprised me at all…..however, once Noah gets to school and sees all the *pretty* people in the lunch room, I thought I might be wrong and it would have been some posh vampires that were feeding on grandma….

However, I couldn’t have been farther from the truth….

Although…..this book is full of *real-life* monsters….

I must admit, at times I did feel that the author was long-winded. That the stuff going on inside Noah’s mind was just so bogged down with details….however, after reading it….well I have to wonder….If I felt overwhelmed at times and over sensitized….well just imagine how Noah felt….

This book brings more than a few very important issues to light….and it’s a hard read….not because it’s hard to understand….it’s just a tough subject….and the ripples this book leaves you with….well they are far reaching…it’s blatantly obvious after reading a book like this that we are all so often look at just the one person in life. We often isolate them in our minds and we neglect to see the ripple effects that issues cause with not just one person, but all of those around them.

If someone has cancer….or is killed in an accident….or hurts another person…..well that doesn’t just effect them….Mrs. Z does an outstanding job displaying this throughout the entire novel (ALL 698 PAGES OF IT!!!)

Now there’s just no way for me to continue this review without providing spoilers….so I am asking you now…if you haven’t read this book, please stop reading now and go try to find a copy….This book isn’t a subject matter I would ever imagine myself reading….let alone giving top ratings to. I almost hesitated to give 5 stars because I almost feel guilty….I don’t want anyone to think I did so because I know the author….I do so because this novel deserves it….although as I said, I felt it was too many words at sometimes….however the subject matter and the way it was handled, the way I felt at the end….the way I stayed up late and woke early to finish it….well, I would be dishonest if I gave it anything less….

But again….spoilers now! so if you haven’t read it….piss off and go do so….please don’t let my need to voice all of my feelings ruin this great book for you!!!

First the ending…..uffda….again….ripples….this book is full of them, innit? I realise some people will hate the ending….fuck it…..I hate the ending…..but I would have hated an ending that wrapped it all up and created a stopping point even more…..again…..ripples! Key word here…..RIPPLES…..I just can’t stop thinking about all the ripples that closing scene is going to make in the hours after the reader finishes….

How can you not love a book that the characters feel so real that you finish the last page and you still are concerned for ALL of those involved. How can you not love a book where you physically hurt for what they have to go through?

Another thing I want to point out to anyone that has read the book….I am sure many think of the father behind the closed-door at the end….and they are disappointed perhaps….Me? I know 100% that he has closed that door because he is disappointed in himself….that he is blaming himself for not being there as he thinks he should have been….even though I know 100% that Noah feels it is shut because of his father’s disappointment in Noah…..

Again, this whole book….just wow….it’s so complex…and the more you think about it….well the more confused you become….

Mental illness….sexual identity….these are such tough issues….why do we feel such a need to label everything in life? Perhaps not the labels themselves, but the stigma that goes with them…I’ve always been a strong proponent of letting people live their lives as they see the need to. I try very hard to not pass judgement….

This novel points out that not only is it very important to not put stigmas on labels….but it’s also now blatantly obvious that the stigma we put on our own labels used to define us….well they can be the most cutting of all..I’ve always tried to remember that we never know what people are going through in their daily lives…so we should never judge…..this novel pushes me belief system even further….I now realise that it’s not just what’s going on in their lives…it’s also sometimes more important about what is going on in their heads….and those are things that sometimes we are *never* made aware of….

At times this novel is so tough to read….the implications of what mental illness does to a person….well when you pile it on top of the worries of the mental illness…and how you will be perceived by others….well at some point you have to stop and ask….which is which….which one does the most damage…and which one causes which….are they all interchangeable? Can you have one without the other? If one did not exist would the other cease as well?

The second major issue of the novel….sexual identification…..that is all so….well…..it does come down to labels here….and this is the thing I struggle with the most….I always have….but now it makes me angry….it seems that more society opens up….the more it shuts down….if Noah wants to kiss boys or girls…why should he have to announce it? Why should it matter? I realise that identity is very important to teenagers…however….I really wish society would change how we define ourselves….it’s tough I know….but I just wish in my heart that Noah had given a few less fucks how people defined him….the only opinions that should guide and define us are those of people who truly love and know us….but most importantly…our own….we should all be allowed to be happy with whom we are….

again…ripples….the beautiful person that Noah is….it’s so easy to see and define the ripples that brings to others around him….even if he is, sadly, unable to see those ripples himself….however, the lack of Noah sharing what’s really going on in his life? Those ripples? They are far more outreaching and long-lasting then he will ever realise….

Those ripples will be residing in me for a very long time to come….x

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by the author for an honest review

Buy it now Behind the Falls by Brenda Zalegowski