Blog Tour and Giveaway: Reclaiming the Sand: A. Meredith Walters
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Expected Release date , 2013
Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.
Ellie Mccallum was the bully. The Tormenter. The Villain. Taking what she wanted, stomping over anyone that got in her way. Feelings, futures, and relationships be damned. She felt no emotional connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.
Particularly Freaky Flynn.
Growing up, Flynn Hendrick was known only as “Freaky Flynn.” He lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.
But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.
And moved on.
Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.
When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.
And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.
But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the farther you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.
He sees the beauty where others don't. He hears love when ohers only hear pain. He gives me the strength to become the person I've been terrified to be. You will hate me. You will love him. I love him. He has changed my world.
My thoughts on this book are all over the place. This is an unconventional love story and it is no happy fairy tale. It is very true that I loved Flynn. And at times I hated Ellie.
Ellie is an angry girl in a dead end town. She is the product of the foster care and Juvie system. Ellie's world is ugly, raw, depressing, and she is stuck in a rut. He lousy friends just bring her further down.
But the reappearance of a boy from her past sparks a change in her. Flynn is an awkward man with Asperger's Autism that she and her friends knew in High School and called "Freaky Flynn". He has now returned to their small town. Ellie's feelings about Flynn are all confused and tied up in guilt, shame, anger, and loss. There is a big mystery of an event between Flynn and Ellie six years ago that changed their lives. I had to keep reading to find out.
I had cared about Flynn. So much. It had scared me. I was terrified to feel anything for anyone. I had spent much of my life shutting everyone ut. I hadn't a defense against a quiet boy who was just as lost as I was . I had opened up. I had let him in. And then I had pushed him away in the only way I could. By destroying him.
In the present, their interactions were sometimes stilted, confusing, awkward and brimming with underlying emotion. You could feel this connection somehow between these two unlikely people.
Flynn grabbed my heart with his honesty, and simple, straight forward thinking. He was so genuine and open. He had a big heart and capacity for love and forgiveness. He just wanted friends and to be cared about. He lived in his own little world but he was happy there despite the hardships he had been through. His behavior and limitations were not sugarcoated, but were addressed in a respectful way.
He is good. He is kind. He cares for others deeply and absolutely. He is talented. He is shy. He is smart in ways I can only dream of. He loves with all of his heart.
Ellie was often rude, angry, conflicted, and confrontational. She had a tough outer shell, but she really just wanted to be loved and accepted. But she was so afraid of rejection and being judged. At times she was weak and bowed down to peer pressure and reverted to bad habits. She hid behind anger, guilt, and shame. They always had the potential to bring out the best and worst in each other. Ellie always felt for him, but was not always strong enough to stand up for him. And Flynn always liked Ellie but often got hurt by her hot and cold behavior.
As adults, his reappearance sets her onto a different path and out of her rut. He makes her feel, makes her see the good in herself, and makes her want to be a better person. And she pushes Flynn to his capacity to grow as well, but has empathy for him and understanding of his deficits. And as they began to explore a relationship together it is tenuous, complicated, and sweet. They both seem so innocent in their physical connections...him because he is and her because the feelings are so new for her.
Because Flynn Hendrick had taught me how to feel. He had taught me how to live. He had taught me how to love.
This story was not pretty. It was rough, heartbreaking and painful for much of it . But it was also beautiful, sweet, and poignant at times. Flynn was an unlikely hero, but I could not but love him and admire him. My heart broke for him so many times, but he had a resilience about him and such a real honest way of seeing the world. And even though there were so many times I wanted to shake Ellie, she also had the capacity to understand Flynn like no one else. I could tell that underneath all of her hard edges she had a good heart under there but was confused and frightened. This was also about her finding her inner strength and changing her life in more positive ways and breaking free of those that brought her down. Ellie and Flynn were really soul mates that had definite issues with timing, but were destined to be there when the time was right.
We were a perfect, messed up pair, Flynn and I. We always had been.
This is an untraditional love story of two very different people who broke each other with painful words and actions, but also were able to put each other back together again. These were two people desperately searching for a connection and making one in far from ideal circumstances. But their lives were full of challenges and complications and nothing for them was easy. Maybe that is what made their good times so special.
This book was unique, emotional, powerful and had a good message of the importance of trust, acceptance, empathy, respect, and understanding. It was told in Ellie's point of view in present and Flynn's point of view in the past. I felt it was especially important to see into Flynn's thoughts since his communication and expression was more limited. It really made you see the almost child like quality to his thinking while also seeing how strongly he felt. I would have liked to see his thoughts in the present as well.
I enjoyed the sweet times with Ellie and Flynn. I was very frustrated with all of the drama with her selfish, out of control, immature friends Dania, Stu, Shane and Reggie. I wish we had seen less of them and more good times with Flynn. I felt like the ending was a bit rushed and I would have loved to see more from the epilogue. But overall I was left with that feeling of reading something totally different and special, even though I was uncomfortable or angry during a lot of it.
Thanks to A. Meredith Walters for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Bully and victim.
The prologue begins with Ellie telling the readers that we will love Flynn and hate her. I know what she meant, but I couldn’t hate her. Because the person I hated was in the past, and the present-day Ellie, while containing aspects of that former person, was trying to move beyond her past. And for that I could feel bad for her past and wonder at her present.
I was back and forth with my feelings towards Ellie, but as I said, I couldn’t simply hate her, no matter how much I wanted to. She was so reactionary in high school and as much as she thought she was being a friend, she was very much a follower. She was a bully to Flynn just as often as she was his friend. But her self realization of her actions caused permanent changes to take root in her, and that was the most fascinating aspect of her character.
Flynn was such a great portrayal of a person with Aspergers. He is literal, direct, and socially awkward. Taking on a character with a disability like Aspergers is a bold move for A. Meredith, and man does she do it well. It made me think about how she handled Clayton’s mental illness in the Find You in the Dark series and as much as I loved how she handed that, I felt like this was heads and shoulders above.
Ellie and Flynn had a rocky friendship in high school. They both saw something in each other, a kindred spirit of sorts, but Ellie refused to let the friendship develop naturally. Instead, they were secret friends, with mixed signals being constant sent depending on whether they were at school or at Flynn’s house. When they meet again years later, both are reminded of the past while building a new friendship. The extent of the past’s influence was rocky and deep, as the events that led to the last time they saw each other come to light.
The POV shifts were an interesting choice. Flynn’s POV comes through only in the flashback scenes. The present day is told solely from Ellie’s POV. I think this may be why I had an easier time sympathizing with Ellie. We knew where her head was at the whole time during the present day timeline, while Flynn’s flashbacks set up where his head was at even in those present day scenes.
Ellie’s other friends, Dania, Stu, Shaun, and Reggie, were a pack of delinquents and bullies. Even years after high school, they are always looking for the next party, ignoring responsibility and the possibility of a future doing anything but the same. When any one of them showed up in a scene? I was instantly on edge. I didn’t like the Ellie that repeatedly showed up when her friends were around, especially seeing that she could be different when they weren’t around. But I guess that’s part of small town living -- the inability to get away from people from your past.
The end of the book happened kind of quickly for my liking, as far as the pacing of the rest of the book goes. Based on the interactions between Ellie and Flynn, it makes sense that it was a quick resolution, but it did leave me feeling a little bewildered at the direction things had taken.
This book challenged me. I loved it. I cringed. I may have cried a little bit. But ultimately? It was great. It had characters who weren't perfect, but were working towards making themselves better versions of themselves. There was plenty of emotional tension and confusion. It was generally a good read, if not necessarily a happy one.
Thanks to A. Meredith Walters for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark series, Bad Rep and its upcoming sequel.
A. Meredith spent ten years as a counselor for at risk teens and children. First working at a Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program and then later a program for children with severe emotional and mental health issues. Her former clients and their stories continue to influence every aspect of her writing.
When not writing (or being tortured with all manner of beauty products at the hand of her very imaginative and extremely girly 6 year old daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.