While other high school seniors are dreaming about their futures, Sophie and Carter are just trying to make it through each day. Carter is overwhelmed by issues at home as he struggles to support his mother. Meanwhile, next door neighbour Sophie is left to care for her three younger siblings in place of their absent and troubled mother. All that holds these two best friends together is each other, and knowing that each night they'll sit together on Sophie's front porch swing and escape from reality, if just for awhile. But as their relationship reaches a turning point and high school graduation nears, will their friendship become something more?
Paperback, 117 pages
Published by Acacia Publishing (first published June 20th 2011)
Four Big Stars! This a tender, touching story of two teens defining love amidst troubling circumstances.
Sophie pauses a moment in the hall, to chat with her best friend, Carter. It is a quiet, stolen interlude, that inevitably makes Sophie late to class, as usual. A moment where their troubles fall away, and they are just a couple of normal teenagers. They walk home together everyday but not side by side. Sophie walks twenty feet in front while Carter follows behind, occasionally picking up scraps of paper that Sophie drops along the sidewalk. They keep their tight knit friendship a secret from the outside world and that is the way they like it. Carter smile as he picks up a note, telling him to stop staring at her butt. It is meant to lighten his mood. They both know they are set to face the hard part of their day. The pair are next door neighbors. Each living in a home shrouded in hardship and pain. Sophie and Carter, though barely eighteen are each a caretaker and head of their family. Sophie's mother is a prostitute and drug addict. She rarely comes home anymore, leaving Sophie to fend for herself and her three younger siblings. No one knows anything about their father(s). Carter, cares for his ailing mother. She and Carter were repeatedly beaten by Carter's now absentee dad. Her battered and bruised brain is damaged from the attacks and years of soaking in alcohol. She is severely ill and nearly insane. The two toil through their hectic afternoon and evening, waiting for those precious few, stolen moments when they meet on the old worn porch swing. Here in the quiet of the evening, they can swing away their burden of woes and enjoy each others company. Despite what you might think, Sophie and Carter are best friends. Their friendship has never once moved toward a romantic level, but each secretly ponders on the possibility. This book is a look at two teenagers caught in a web of crushing and uncontrollable burdens. Their ability to see beyond their sorrow, and to grab and clutch tightly to the promise of love, will speak to your heart.
What I Liked:
- When I started reading this book, I thought that Sophie and Carter would be two normal teenagers, who fall in love. I was pleased and surprised to discover they are anything but typical teenage kids. They are mature, responsible young adults bearing oppressive burdens. I couldn't help falling in love with this pair, because despite their heavy loads, they remain optimistic. Neither has fully admitted their true feelings for the other. Their relationship teeters precariously on the brink of romance, frozen by their timidity to push it beyond the edge, for fear of losing the one constant, positive spark of goodness in their lives: their friendship. The joy of this book is watching the relationship blossom, as you spend those treasured minutes with them on that worn swing.
- Sophie, I loved this girl's indomitable spirit. She single handedly takes on the role of parent to her three younger siblings. Not for one minute does she resent them, she responds that she "loves their guts". Sophie is an honor student as well. If only more young teenagers were as wonderful and caring.
- Carter, girls this young man will make your heart sing. He is so patient, kind and his unconditional love for his mother will make you sigh. His scars and his abusive past will cause you to wince in horror. I am telling you this boy is a gem.
- The writing is simple and easy but so full of memorable lines. Ms. Fine, managed to speak volumes to me with her simple, sweet, short story. This is a book you will devour and want to share. It will brush your heart, and you will find yourself blinking back a few tears. It is a stark reminder to be grateful for the immeasurable blessing of love in your life.
And The Not So Much:
- There is very little I can criticize with this book, I enjoyed it so much. One complaint is that if you truly analyze the situation, the unrealistic likelihood of either one of these teenagers remaining as the sole custodians of their respective families. Carter's mother is so severely impaired she couldn't function. I wondered what happened to her during the day while he was at school since it was apparent she was nearly incapacitated. Sophie and her siblings in the real world would likely have become wards of the state, since they were abandoned. However, I shoved the reality aspects aside and let myself fall into their story.
- This is a short book, more like a novella. Ms. Fines manages to pack a bundle of emotion into these few pages. The story resolves nicely, but I longed for the book to continue. I hope perhaps at a little date, I can revisit Sophie and Carter and see if their lives have improved.
Sophie and Carter, is a book that will linger with you after you close the cover. It is a poignant story of a young couple finding the beauty of love, in a cruel and convoluted world. Slip into this sweet story, I am certain you will come away grateful for the blessings and luxuries in your life. Ms. Fines is an author I will be keeping a close eye on. This wonderful book can be purchased for $2.99 on amazon.com.
"He makes my heart stop, he makes my breaths shallow, he makes me want to sing."
"Life is what we make it."
"Turns out you can't shake jealousy off. You've got to pet it and lie to it and soothe it until it settles comfortably in the back of your mind."
"She pulls her hand out of mine and a piece of me dies."
"He's careful with what he loves, and he's scared of losing it."
"I love her guts."
"I love his guts too."
A big thanks to Acacia Publishing for providing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.