Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rview: Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams

Phoenix can't imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years--do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better? 
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum--the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he's impossible to figure out--and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he's promising Phoenix a summer she'll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?

4 stars
Review by Trinette Dungee

Phoenix is going into her senior year in high school and rather than spending her summer like she imagined, hanging with friends and pretty much doing nothing, she’s spending it at a family summer camp. While at the camp she is hired to be a counselor and she meets Callum. A self-proclaimed reformed bad-boy, Callum’s had a rough go at life and the only bright times seemed to be the time he spends at the camp. He’s totally hot and Phoenix can’t quite seem to figure him out. With her feeling like the motives of everyone in her life right now are questionable at best, she’s not sure if she should really trust Callum or not.
Phoenix is struggling with some serious trust issues. Her dad lost his job a few years ago and while she’s aware that there may be some financial struggles she’s shocked to find out how bad they really are when she comes across a foreclosure notice. Her parents have yet to mention this to her, they don’t seem to be telling her any about their situation, they don’t seem to be getting along, but yet they pretend that nothing is wrong. So now, in her eyes, her parents are “liars” and not trust-worthy. The only person in her life that she’s okay with at this point is her little brother Harry. Harry was quite cute and I really liked him (his sister, not so much). 
I’m going to be honest, reading the description of this book I wasn’t eager to read it, couple that with the age of the characters and I definitely was hesitant but I decided to give it a try. After the first page or so, I truly thought I was going to have to just give up. Not because the book wasn’t grabbing me but because I instantly disliked Phoenix. She came off as spoiled, bratty and self-centered…not at all different than most teenagers, but something about her just really grated my nerves. But, I decided to go on and give it the old college try. 
This book kind of hit close to home and when a book does that, you are either going to LOVE it or HATE it. Well, let’s just say this book and I have a love/hate relationship right now!
I was angry at our parents. For screwing up and dragging Harry and me into it. As far as I was concerned, they’d dug their hole all by themselves. Why did Harry and I have to fall into it with them? It wasn’t fair
Reading this literally almost sent me over the edge. Seriously, I had to put the kindle down and walk away. UHG, this kid!  I couldn’t understand why I was having such a visceral reaction to this kid, and then it hit me. So like I mentioned before, this book hit close to home for me on the parent’s side; being a single mom and having lost a job one of my biggest worries was letting my kids down and trying to keep things as normal for them as possible. Part of that came by way of “protecting” them as much as possible about how bad things were or had gotten.  With that being said, Phoenix’s little statement was a little hurtful. Very rarely does a parent deliberately “screw up and drag” their kids into anything when they are struggling. I’m all for kids understanding some aspect of what’s going on in a household, but I don’t feel obligated to give you a complete rundown. While I get that Phoenix is a kid, she’s also almost eighteen years, old enough to know that well…..shit happens! I gave her a little bit of a pass because she was probably pretty sheltered and used to life being easy so it may have been a shock, but still her attitude sucked. 
The relationship with Callum and Phoenix was a bit weird at times. They both wanted that one person they could confide in but at the same time, they were hesitant to do so. Callum’s backstory was pretty interesting and I think I felt like he “got it”. He understood what it was like to have to have something happen in your life that causes you to stop and re-evaluate, change your course and I really wanted Phoenix to get it too. I had to remind myself that while I wanted Phoenix to “get it”, I had to realize that she and Callum came from totally different backgrounds, he wasn’t as sheltered as she was and he’d been dealing with disappointments pretty much his whole life. Of course right when I thought I was okay with her, Phoenix managed to tick me off in how she was so willing to give Callum’s mother a total pass for obstacles/hurdles/hard-times she endured.  
I could only imagine the strength it took to raise two boys alone in California, a state not exactly known for its stellar cost of living.
My first thought after reading that; “Are you freaking kidding me?! You don’t know this woman from a can of paint, never laid an eye on her! You’re not even sure if the story you’re getting from Callum is an accurate depiction of her and you feel sorry for her!”; Yep, another reaction where I had to put the kindle down and woo-sah. I had to yet again remind myself that this was a young adult; she was looking at things from a totally different perspective than your many years of experience. 
So about my love/hate relationship with this book; what I hated about this book, was that it took me back to a very difficult time in my life, it made me think about how my kids may or may not have looked at me when times were extremely tough…had I failed them, were they disappointed in me, were they embarrassed by me?...Yeah, I didn’t like reliving that. What I loved about this book, it took me back to a very difficult time in my life that I can proudly say I survived…we survived and while there are still struggles and things aren’t as good as they use to be, we are okay. It made me think about how my kids may have wanted to know certain things, how they may have needed to know certain things. It made me realize that in order to truly prepare my kids for the real world, they need to experience “real experiences” you can’t protect them from all of the bad stuff; life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, it’s filled with lots of disappointments and obstacles and they have to learn how to cope and bounce back. 
This book confirmed something for me; I think we need to give your kids the benefit of the doubt and not try to protect them from every little thing. It is okay for them to know that life is hard and sometimes you struggle. But at the end of the day, I’m the parent; it is my job to raise, protect and provide for you. I don’t have to divulge every little thing to you and I don’t need your “approval”.  I do the best I can with what I have to make you happy and comfortable and to raise you to be compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic, productive members of society and not total jerks. 

Now it might seem that I’m coming off a little hard on poor Phoenix, but I can’t not reflect on how much this girl grew up by the end of the book; toward the end it was clear that she could she, she was expecting things from people that she wasn’t really giving and in the end I realized and had to admit that like Phoenix, I’d grown quite a bit from my experiences. So all this thinking, accepting and realization lead me to a four star read. 

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