Here we are already, the first of April! Can you believe it? Warmer weather has made its way to Portland, Oregon and it has been lovely. Hopefully, all of you still enduring snow will find your spring flowers soon. Today, I am pleased to welcome author Lisa Burstein to the blog. Lisa is a local Portland author, so I am always excited to help support a home town gal. She is the author of last year's Pretty Amy and she just released the follow up companion novel Dear Cassie. These are both gutsy, realistic and honest books that follow teenage girls who are struggling with many of the problems that plague teens today. Lisa brought Cassie with her for the guest post. Before I introduce you all to Cassie, let me tell you more about Lisa.
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous. You can find out more about Lisa on her website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.
I have Cassie here today to tell you how she is doing since her stay in Turning Pines. Fair warning, Cassie doesn't always talk like a lady. Here is Cassie:
Hey everyone, it's me Cassie. I know you haven't heard from me since I left Turning Pines, so I thought I would write you all a quick note to let you know how I'm doing now.
One word: GREAT! Two words: SUPER GREAT!!!
I think you can already tell that I'm a new person. I don't swear anymore. I say things like "great" and "super" when people ask how I'm doing. I say good morning to people I don't know on the street. I use hearts to dot my "i's" and squiggles to cross my "t's" and exclamation points. SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! I quit smoking and I've started doing everything people tell me to do. It's a much easier life than all the yelling and fighting I was living with before.
All the hate. All the anger and regret.It's all gone.
I'm a new- POSITIVE(!) person.
I have also started wearing A LOT of pink!
I've even painted my nails and toenails pink- and not just pink, but the palest, pale rose pink.
I don't want to ruin anyone's reading of my diary in Dear Cassie, so let's just say I've gotten into being a homemaker: cooking, cleaning, smiling, nodding.
Now who I'm making a home with is the question.
I had a bad attitude, I know that now. Telling people exactly what I thought of them was a mistake. Telling people to F Off was wrong. Calling people F-ers was mean. Threatening people that I would F-ing kick them in their bit parts was not ladylike. I keep my thoughts to myself now and as a result they are much sweeter, cotton candy sweet. Pink sweet!
I'm like Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty after they've found their prince.
Here are the things I like to do now:
Play with kittens
Play with puppies
Take walks and have butterflies land on my shoulders
USE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!
Have you figured out this is a joke yet? It is FUCKING April Fools and all. Sure writing the diary I shared in Dear Cassie and the people I met at Turning Pines have gotten me to a place where I am ready to start healing and sharing my life with someone new (not telling who), but there is no way in HELL anything will be puppies and rainbows and cotton candy for me. There is no way I will be satisfied with taking walks and having butterflies land on my fucking shoulders
Happy Fucking April Fools Bitches! I'm still Cassie.
I wouldn't expect anything else from Cassie! Thanks so much Lisa and Cassie for stopping by today. Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Entangled Teen, I am able to offer an ebook copy of Dear Cassie. Just fill out the rafflecopter to enter. This is open Internationally! Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do? You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. You’d be wrong. There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about. What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open? But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies. And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Entangled Teen
Three stars: A revealing and honest look at a teenager in peril.
Cassie refuses to think back to what happened on prom night and the bad path her life has taken since then. She has closed her heart off and she won't let anyone in. Not after what Aaron did. She is going to suck it up and somehow get through the next thirty days at Turning Pines. Cassie knows it is going to be tough, and it will likely be one of the worst experiences of her life, but the alternatives are worse. What she doesn't count on, is finding someone there who just might be worth letting in. Can Cassie deal with her past and open her heart?
What I Liked:
- I had no illusions going into this one like I did last year when I read Pretty Amy. I was expecting Pretty Amy to be a light, fluffy read all about going to prom, what I got was a tough look at three teenage girls making bad decisions due to their lack of self worth. This time, I knew that Cassie's story would be even more raw and I was right. This is not an easy novel to read, probably why I don't review more contemporary, it was tough at times and it stressed me out, but through it all, I saw a girl struggling to find herself and prove that her life mattered. Cassie's journey of self discovery takes place during a month long stay at Turning Pines which is one of those rehab camps where they send juvenile delinquents. It is not a fun place to stay by any means and it was an eye opening experience to read this one. If you ever wondered about the type of people who are sent to these camps and what they undergo read this book.
- Cassie is a touch character to like. On one hand she is smart and funny, some of her lines are so sarcastic that they made me laugh, but on the other hand she is so closed off and damaged that it is hard to get the full picture. She is a girl who has never really been shown kindness in her life, except from her brother. Her father serves in the military so he is always gone, her mother is consequently always drunk because she can't deal with his absence. Cassie has never been cuddled and loved and told that she mattered. So she is angry to the point of being combative and she doesn't know the first thing about love and trust. The one time she lets a boy in, she suffers some catastrophic consequences which shatter the fragile trust she established. Now she is broken, gutted if you will, and trying to survive each day at the camp. During her stay, Cassie slowly analyzes all the bad that happened to her, comes to terms with it, and she begins to take those tentative steps to trust and hope and believing she is worth it. Keep in mind her self discovery is harsh and brutal at times and gut wrenching, but in the end I am glad I went on the journey with Cassie.
- I appreciated that this book dealt with some very challenging topics such as pregnancy and abortion and the devastating aftermath. Cassie's experience is painful, scarring and revealing.
- This is one of those contemporary novels that will stick with me because it is so honest and it doesn't hold back. Cassie puts forth a tough exterior. On the outside she is a girl who smokes, curses and makes bad choices and doesn't seem to care what the world thinks of her, but on the inside she is scared, alone and desperately wanting to be loved. Even though she wouldn't want it, I wanted to hug her.
And The Not So Much:
- I was a bit frustrated at times that some of the more interesting aspects were glossed over and not fully fleshed out. For instance, I wanted to know more about what happened with Aaron. How did Cassie tell him what happened and how did she break it off with him? I would also have liked to know more about her home life to see how she ended up the way she is. What was her relationship like with her father when he was home? I was also disappointed that there wasn't a bit more on what happened with Amy and Lila. Finally, I wished there was an Epilogue to see how Cassie is doing down the road. Did her stay at the camp make a difference?
- This is not a read for everyone. Do not go into this expecting to find a huge change in Cassie, nor don't expect a fully blossomed romance. The romance is subtle and not fully developed, which is a good thing because of Cassie's inability to trust anyone after what happened to her. Cassie's metamorphosis can't be likened to a caterpillar into butterfly. It is more like a girl who is coming to terms with what happened and fearfully grasping at a bit of hope for something good in her future, but by no means is she out of the woods. I liked though, that Ms. Burstein kept it real and didn't have Cassie do a complete turn around.
- Keep in mind, even though this book is Young Adult, it is for mature readers only. There are some very tough topics in this one such as abortion. There is plenty of foul language as well.
- I struggled a bit with Ben. He is so kind and sweet and he continues to dig at Cassie's tough girl exterior despite the horrid way she treats him. I wanted to know why he was so persistent. What did he see in Cassie that would make him keep pushing? I was also a bit confused on why he was at the camp in the first place. Why would he take the fall for his brother. Finally, I didn't like his stunt at the end. It was ridiculous and stupid.
- The other issue I had with this one was that the kids at the camp were constantly sneaking out and getting away with things. I was expecting the camp counselors to have better control of the situation and I didn't buy that the kids weren't more closely monitored.
Dear Cassie is a good follow up to Pretty Amy. In fact, I much preferred Cassie's voice to Amy's since Cassie doesn't sit around and feel sorry for herself and she is more in your face. This book takes at harsh look at a teenage girl floundering with the pressures of today's society as she tries to find herself and learn her own self worth. The story is raw and gritty and it isn't easy, but in the end, I enjoyed watching those first hesitant baby steps that Cassie takes to hopefully what will be a brighter future. This book isn't for everyone, but if you are someone who enjoys realistic, gut wrenching reads, get this one.
"The "cabin" looked like a shack built by a homicidal maniac---you know, the place he keeps his blood-splattered murder tools and rotting corpses. The door creaked as Rawe opened it---that a room you enter and may never leave creak."
"I already knew what I was capable of, and I wouldn't want to be in a cabin in the woods alone with me."
"Rawe said that if we knew where we came from, it would be easier to see how we'd ended up where we'd ended up. The crap not falling far from the butthole and all that."
"I would have liked to be drinking stolen beer from the cooler, but after the arrest, my mother did a sobriety check every time I came home. Which was beyond ironic, considering my mother's breath could have gotten me drunk."
"You look like a naked, upside-down female synchronized swimmer in need of a wax," I spit through the water. "Desperately."
"Um, maybe," I said, even though I was positive if I kneeled down to pray, the sky would open up and lightning would fly out like octopus arms and burn me to a crisp. I didn't deserve to pray. Not that anyone but my brother knew it, but I didn't deserve anything except to go take a crap in a pit toilet."
"If this is what I am now---a girl who used to know who she was, who used to be able to make people afraid of her, but is now only scared of herself. Of what she will do if she lets one more boy in."
"They probably had the kind of parents who would always tell them they were awesome, even when they sucked. I had the kind who told me I sucked when I sucked."
"You ned to live this life." she whispered. "You can live it with regret, or you can let it go."
A big thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.