Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reclaiming the Sand Blog Tour and $50 GC Giveaway!!


Title: Reclaiming the Sand
Author: A. Meredith Walters
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.


An older man stopped Flynn and I ducked behind a tree to watch them, fascinated in spite of myself.  Flynn fidgeted, his hands jammed into the pocket of his khakis.  I snickered seeing them.  He always wore the same thing. Khakis and a long sleeved button down shirt, no matter how hot it was.  Always blue and always buttoned to the neck.  The guy really hadn’t done himself any favors by dressing like a dork.  He was such an easy mark.  As though he were begging to be picked on.

I took a sadistic joy in realizing he was still awkward and fucked up. 

Just like me. 

But then he did something that surprised me.  He lifted his head and smiled at the older man.  Then he laughed.  And I could hear it from my hiding spot behind the tree.

It had been a long time since I had seen Flynn Hendrick smile.  In all the years I had known him.  In all the time I had made it my mission to hurt and humiliate him, he hardly ever smiled and he very rarely laughed.  I often made sure that he never had a reason to.

But he was laughing now and it completely transformed him.

My heart twisted painfully in my chest at the sight.

Because Flynn looked happy. 

Freaky Flynn looked content and at ease. 

My hatred and bitterness clawed inside of me, desperate to get out.  Wanting to be free.  To bring this guy back down to the depths of hell with me.

Why did he get to be happy?  What rules of the universe deemed him worthy of joy while I was suffocating in my own despair?

Fuck Flynn Hendrick and his smile.  Fuck him and his apparent wonderful life. 

I was having a hard time breathing.  I wanted to leave.  But I couldn’t stop watching this man that I blamed for so much.  This man I had tried so hard to bring down and who was clearly better off for it.

Flynn turned his head, as though feeling the weight of my stare.  The sun shone down on him like a freaking halo.  How fitting.

And then he found me.  As though I had a neon sign pointing in my direction.  He frowned and I knew he was trying to place me.  And I knew the moment when he recognized me. 

He began to rub obsessively at the back of his hands.  Something I remembered him doing when he became upset.

The rubbing became more pronounced, as though he were trying to remove his skin. 

The older man beside him said something but he didn’t respond.  He continued to stand there, like a deer in headlights, staring at me as though he had seen a ghost, rubbing at his hands over and over again.

Then some cruel part inside me that had been left to fester all these years lifted its ugly head.  I grinned at Flynn’s discomfort.  It made me feel good.

I raised my hand and wiggled my fingers in his direction.  Letting him know that I saw him too.

Flynn’s hands stopped rubbing, as though he were making a conscious effort to stop himself.  He shoved his hands back in his pockets, his eyes never leaving mine.  I was surprised to see a strength that had never been t here before.

It left me feeling weak in comparison.

He turned to the man beside him, giving me his back.  Letting me know that he didn’t care if I was standing there or not.  That I didn’t bother him. 

Not anymore.

6 Stars

Words cannot describe the range of emotions you feel while reading Reclaiming the Sand. It is a completely maddening, at times horrible, yet absolutely brilliant read. 

If you stand back from the book and just look at the plot, it is not complex. It's a story about Flynn a boy with Aspergers syndrome who gets bullied in school, and Ellie, an orphan, a victim of her circumstances, who tries to fit in. After a rocky start, Ellie and Flynn begin an easy uncomplicated friendship. That was, unless she was with her friends. Then she bullied the shit out of him, or watched as unspeakable things are done to him. 

I cannot express how heavy my heart gets, how fast the tears come when I think about what was done to him (even days later). I screamed, cried, and hurt for Flynn, a simple boy who understood simple things. A boy who didn't understand feelings, both emotionally or physically. Yet, everything that he goes through, Flynn forgives Ellie.

Some may sympathize or begin to like her, or understand her. I am not forgiving. I understand some of her actions, but don't others. As the book progressed, you can slowly begin to like her, but as I said, I don't. The only reason I could tolerate her as a character, is because Flynn could. He was only comfortable around her. He wanted her to be his, and forsaking every damned thing, painful experience after another, he forgave her because she was it. While she does grow and learn as a character, and is redeemable at the end, it wasn't enough for me.

The story is told from a mixture of both POVs, with Flynn's POV mainly being in the past. Walters did a wonderful job with researching the subject and mannerisms of someone with Aspergers and portraying that to the reader. You get a glimpse of what life would be like for them, and that insight alone opens your eyes. I think though, that his character feeling such raw emotions, while being bullied, is the blade that cuts you. Yeah, anyone can write a book about bullying.. but Walters gives you a book that lets you know how awful it feels. And it HURT me to read this. I tried to tell my heart, that this is just a boy on paper, just words that make sentences and paragraphs, but I still wanted to scream and cry.

I think some of the feelings could relate to me having my own child, and fearing something happening to him. Or thinking back to a time when I could have stood up for someone and didn't. Wondering what type of impact could I have made in someone's life.

I think the true test of a book should be based upon the emotions you have while reading. Sure plot, characters, and all that are good, but if you can cry for a person, can absolutely hate a girl, all from reading.. then the author has definitely passed. 

Overall, this isn't a rainbows and flowers type of read, yet it's not truly dark either. It's real and raw and heartbreaking. It fucking hurts. It doesn't have the a sappy ending, but is good. I would have liked more at the ending, only because it would have redeemed Ellie a little for me. That's what I wanted, a little more redemption, or maybe for Karma to step in and kick someone's ass. But in keeping with the realism, it's not often that you get what you want. You have to learn to move on, forgive, and live your life the best way you can. Read it, if not for the enjoyment of reading, read it to open your eyes in someone elses shoes.
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The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary and Paranormal romance including The Find You in the Dark and Bad Rep series as well as the upcoming stand alone romance, Reclaiming the Sand, and a dark new adult series for Gallery Books.

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 daughter), she is eating chocolate, watching reality television that could rot your brain and reading a smutty novel or two.

A. Meredith is represented by Michelle Johnson with the Inklings Literary Agency.


Beppe DM said...

Thanks for this great giveaway!

Jansen Garland said...

Thanks! Looks like a great read!

VampedChik said...

I'll definitely have to read this. Thanks!

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