I'm often excited to read a story where the hero or heroine is challenged. I'm more intrigued if the challenge happens to be a disability such blindness, disfigurement or psychosis. IDK, I'm just wired that way, but it radiates hope and elation when someone (the underdog) can overcome the odds, and look cool, act cool, be cool doing it! This describes a little of what the hero and partly the heroine did for me.
Meet Jordan: He's covered in tattoos, works as a tattoo artist in the family business, is a scholarship recipient at NYU, and loves his family of brothers unconditionally. His challenge: He's deaf and reluctant to use his voice.
Meet Kit a.k.a. Emily: She's homeless by choice, running from stiflingly privileged circumstances and recklessly living life on her own terms. Her challenges: She has a learning disability & in danger from the streets.
These two make a nice pair. Don't they?
Isn't anyone trying to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home?
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand?
Take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
But I... I'm with you
I'm with you
I admit, I got my chocolate fix, put on some Avril Lavigne and cynically prepared myself for a downward spiral in NA clichés and the formulaic almost-but-not-quite. However, this one doesn't get a snub from me.
What stood out in this first installment was the constructed theme of family
that is sketched with Jordan and his four brothers: Paul (the quintessential big brother), Matt (the tragic hopeful), and the twins Sam & Pete (the brothers that play together & stay together). Jordan brings Emily "Kit" home with him and the reader gets to see how well these brothers get on. They've learned sign language in order to competently "speak" to their deaf brother. Each of them pulls his weight and the support that each gives the other without judgment (but a whole lot of welfare) is outstanding
. You fall in love with all of the men as easily as Emily does. Yet, from Emily's point of view, you see that she cherishes this situation because she so desperately wishes for this type of family.
Emily can't immerse herself in her love of all things Jordan and her love of his family because she has to keep her identity secret and she is wary of the newfound feelings of trust, pride and love that she gets from Jordan and his brothers. Fortunately, Jordan pushes Emily to face her fears and encourages her to embrace her creative side. But this all comes to a halt when Emily feels compelled to make a sacrifice that means she will be separated from Jordan and strongly coerced not to pursue a future with him.
And so...I would have been highly upset if I'd had to wait even a night for the completion of this story. The first book ends in what I call a bandwagon cliffhanger
, a trend that is catching like the flu in the New Adult & YA genres. Normally I would have said "screw it", rolled my eyes and put it down, BUT as luck would have it I got the 1st book and its sequel together, so I rolled right into the second one without stopping.
Part I of the story gets a head nod for a dual point of view (I much preferred being in Jordan's head, but Emily's wasn't that bad
). Though the author attempted to tackle tough issues
like impairment, disability, disease coupled with hope, angst and sex, I thought the plot flowed steadily. The noticeable pacing that made it a bit predictable, but that wasn't much of a turn off.
The one major hang-up
I had was Jordan's deafness not seeming real at times. These times especially happened when he "smexy-talked" or when he contributed an almost harangue (by deaf standards) in conversation. I know deaf people, especially those who weren't deaf from birth, can sometimes have the ability to speak with a modicum of clarity, but this guy chose to stay silent for 8 years, and then all of a sudden he is speaking extremely coherently despite his impairment. I mean I expected some description of his vowel sounds being slightly skewed and some tell-tale mishaps with his control over tone and pitch. Just saying---
Yet Jordan is written almost too normally, especially at times when he is conversing with Emily or kind of dirty-talking her in the bedroom. So, yes, Jordan's underdog "challenged" persona lost a little of its charm
The rest of my review to be shortly continued under book #2. (How ya like my
cliffhanger?:D) Avril Lavigne "I'm With You"