Hadley has lost her mother and father in a plane crash, and we start our story off with her making national headlines as being the only survivor. Giles weaves the story in alternate timelines of the past with Hadley and her family, and the present, with her in the hospital on the road to recovery. The secrets that are revealed as we explore Hadley’s past run heartbreakingly deep and are ultimately what has gotten us to the present.
As the blurb indicates, Hadley’s ultimate goal is to keep her sister Lila safe from their father. He is mentally and physically abusive and as long as Hadley plays the game, she can keep the spotlight of his rage on herself and away from her sister. As the captain of the lacrosse team and a serious overachiever, she has to work hard to keep her position in the school, and if that means keeping secrets to keep her sister and her secret safe, then that’s what she needs to do.
Giles pulls no punches when it comes to the subject matter and I think that kind of raw honesty is sometimes needed to call attention to the horrors placed on our children. It highlights the lengths a person will go to keep their secret, because of the fear of the repercussions that they have to deal with at home.
But the book isn’t just about the abuse, it talks a lot about challenges that teens face today such as young love, finding birth control (and praying it works), pressures in sports and helicopter parents that are too invested in their children’s performance in a particular sport. (ie: her father). I think because he is such an abusive p.o.s, that the abuse comes across in so many aspects of Hadley’s life.
What hurt me the most was that yes Hadley was good at hiding the bruises, but there were so many people in her life that had suspicions, but it never went more than just worry. I think speaking up is so multi-layered because if you speak up to the parent, it might get worse. If you speak of to the authorities, because you don’t have proof, it might be brushed off, and we see that exact thinking in Hadley’s coach. And it shouldn’t take proof to investigate and I know attitudes are changing in that aspect.
This was so well-written with intricate attention to detail. The characters are excellent and they all have a place in Hadley’s world. I appreciated that Hadley had Charlie for a boyfriend, someone she could be open with about what was going on at home. Hadley spends so much time trying to protect other’s from her secret, it must be utterly exhausting. As she says “I’m a million shattered pieces. Tiny shards that will cut anyone who tries to clean up my mess.” A heartbreakingly beautiful read.