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.
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.