Happy Cyber Monday! Did you score any big online deals today? I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I took the weekend off from the blog, so I apologize for not returning all the comments, I tried to catch up! We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving. I cannot believe the craziness of Christmas is upon us! Today I am bringing you my review of a very serious book, Swell by Julie Rieman Duck. This is a book that takes a very honest and disturbing look at teenage alcoholism. This is a book parents should read and discuss with their teenagers. Here is a bit about the author:
Born in Los Angeles and raised in San Clemente, California, Julie Rieman Duck wrote her way through school on an old-fashioned typewriter. Somewhere along the line, she was sidetracked by careers in magazine publishing and copywriting. While Julie honed her skills at writing print ads and articles, the stories that moved her heart and soul were bubbling underneath, waiting to escape. It took a medical scare and the loss of her job — on the same day and within 30 minutes of each other — to finally allow her stories to free themselves and be put to paper. Julie looks forward to writing more stories that hit where the heart beats fastest, and the soul reaches out for more. Find Julie on her website, blog or Goodreads and she blogs for YA Stands (author interviews) every other Tuesday.
I have Julie here today to share with us her thoughts on teenage drinking. Here is Julie:
As I read the reviews of SWELL, I find that many readers are angry with the main character, Beck. They are mad that she doesn’t see the light, that she cannot open her eyes to the madness of her life with manipulative people, absent parents, and a growing crutch known as the bottle. There have been cries of, “Where are her parents?” Indeed, parents should know where their kids are, who they are with, and what they are doing with said friends. Unfortunately, even the most child-focused parents can overlook the subtle things that spell big troubles for their kids. It is possible. It does happen. I know this. At 15, I was dumped by a popular boy, similar to what went down with Beck and Christian. Consequently, I started smoking and drinking. I did get people to buy alcohol for me (but I never did any favors for it, other than pay the person to buy it for me). At 16 I climbed out the window to go meet people and drink and party. Sometimes I would go out the front door, quiet as a mouse, and leave it unlocked and my family unsafe. My folks never knew I did any of this until I was much, much older and in the frame of mind to be truthful. I was ashamed. My parents were good in the respect that they fed and clothed me, gave me a home and love. But I can say I didn’t get much discipline and being a free spirit, I carried through with whatever I saw fit to do. Big mistake there, and I am not faulting my parents. However, if they had taken a few steps forward with grounding me, putting me on restriction, and encouraging me to excel at the things I was good at, then maybe I wouldn’t have climbed out the window all those times. Or hung out with bad people, allowing myself to be taken by my whims and not my wisdom. Are you mad at me for how I behaved as a teenager? Maybe you are. Many are mad at Beck. Like me, she couldn’t help falling vulnerable at such a volatile time as adolescence. We are learning how to be who we are, and some of us make little mistakes, while others make them so huge they either die or end up hooked for life to drugs and/or alcohol. Then there are those in the middle who go through some pretty nasty stuff and come out okay in the end – with a deep perspective on life and how some people are. All of our eyes open eventually.
Thanks Julie! Some heady stuff in there. As part of The Swell Tour hosted by Candace's Book Blog Promotions I can offer you a chance to win a spectacular prize pack. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Please note, this giveaway is not hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings. A big thanks to Candace for having me on the tour. Be sure to check out her blog for upcoming tours.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Swell by Julie Rieman Duck
When Christian Rusch plucks Beck Ionesco from the freshman ranks for himself, she’s tempted with parties, popularity, and love. But as the free-flowing booze that soaks his world seeps into her own, Beck begins using liquid courage as a way to ignore Christian’s dark moods… and cover her anxiety about his flirtatious friend Hillman. However, when Christian breaks up with Beck, and Hillman makes a dangerous move, no amount of alcohol can stop the pain or keep her out of trouble. And just when it seems like she’s lost everything, Beck is partnered with Jesse Leary for an art project. After spending time with him, Beck realizes it’s more than a study date… and Christian’s not happy about it. Then again, Beck’s not sure she’s happy with him, either. But only after plowing through a bottle of wine, a wild fight, and one guardrail that becomes Christian’s last call, does Beck admit to her problem and ask for help from the one whose life secretly parallels her own.Paperback, 224 pagesPublished September 1st 2012 by Createspace
Four stars: An eye opening look at teenage alcoholism!
Rebecca lies helpless, unable to move and stop the boy hovering over her from groping her breasts. Her head is buzzing, and her limbs are limp. How did she get here? She just had a few drinks. The desperate boy begins to paw at her skirt and she can't muster the strength to push him away.....She lies paralyzed her mind racing with fear. It all started a few months ago when she attended the last dance of the year: a toga dance. At fifteen, Rebecca is shy and uncomfortable in her own skin. Her breasts are too small, her butt too big and no guy is going to pay attention to her...that is until the hottest guy in school, Christian, a junior, asks her to dance. So what if he smells like he has been drinking? Soon she is dating Christian and drinking heavily. Her life spirals out of control leading up to this moment of drunken helplessness.....
What I Liked:
- I liked that Swell takes on some weighty and troubling issues and not once does it sugar coat or shrink away from the harsh realities of teenage drinking. Ms. Duck brings us a fifteen year old girl lured into dangerous and out of control behavior due to heavy drinking. This book is a stark reminder that even the best and brightest kids can get caught up in the highs of alcohol.
- This book is a tough read at times but it certainly is an eye opener. If you are a parent you should consider reading this book because it will make you aware of the serious dangers of underage drinking and show you how a teenager can quickly get snagged into the vicious cycle of binge drinking and the lengths they will go to score their next drink, even if it means resorting to cold medicine and vanilla extract. Alcohol abuse is frightening and everyone should be aware of the dangers. If you have a teenager this is a book that you should read and discuss. Keep in mind that it deals with some very mature topics such as alcohol abuse, date rape and sex. Yes, it is for mature readers but don't keep this away from your teenager due to content, read it and talk about it together.
- I appreciated that both the main characters, Rebecca and Christian, come from good stable homes and both are excellent students and talented. It is easy to assume that alcoholism affects kids coming from unstable backgrounds, but this book makes it very clear that alcoholism can strike anyone, regardless of race, social status, etc.
- In the end, I came away from the book with a new understanding of alcoholism.
- I liked that the book ended on a positive note, although it is a long, devastating and cruel journey to get there.
And The Not So Much:
- The first half of the book utilizes flashbacks that show the choices Rebecca made that lead up to her current compromising situation: drunk and under the influence of a date rape drug about to be violated. The problem with this method is that it severely interrupts the flow of the story. You are reading about Rebecca and how she turned into an alcoholic and then you get this jarring flash forward to the date rape scene. This goes on until the midway point and then that terrifying situation is resolved. The second half is straight forward and smooth. I personally thought the interjection of the date rape scenes were jarring.
- After the resolution of the date rape, nothing changes with Rebecca's behavior. you would think that the dramatic buildup to this horrifying event would alter her behavior and certainly alert her parents, but things continue down the same path. I think it would have made more of an impact to make this event the straw that breaks the camel's back. I was certainly expecting it to be the pivotal point that changes everything the way it is built up. When nothing happens, the date rape scene loses its steam. Furthermore, I found it hard to believe that Rebecca's parents, who are loving and attentive would continue to turn a blind eye. Yes, they are aware their daughter has a problem but they do little to intervene. The mother even knows that Rebecca is sneaking out at night and confronts her, but she doesn't stop her. I guess I just thought this was a little unbelievable.
- I appreciated the way the author incorporated Alcoholics Anonymous and The Big Book: AlcoholicsAnonymous as resources for help. I was disappointed, though that she did not provide a list of resources for Alcoholics at the end of the book. I think this would be very helpful for anyone caught in this terrible situation.
Swell is a frightening and realistic look at how alcohol can take over and ultimately destroy lives. This is a book that parents and teens should both read to gain a better understanding of this detrimental disease. Keep in mind that this takes on heavy issues that should be discussed. As a parent, I am glad I read this book, the better informed I am, the better!
"My silhouette, which could be called hour glass, was constantly challenged by rippling jiggle and junk in the trunk I swear didn't belong there."
"A true friend tells you there's a booger hanging out of your nostril and then hands you a tissue."
"I sank into Jesse's body and felt like a key that had found the right lock."
I received a copy of this book as part of a book tour. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.