I was seven when I swallowed my first needle.
My mom freaked out and rushed me to the emergency room.
She stayed by the side all night.
I never wanted it to end.
When you spend your whole life feeling invisible -- when your parents care more about deals and deadlines than they do about you -- you find ways of making people take notice. Little things at first. Then bigger. It's scary how fast it grows. Then one day something happens that makes you want to stop. To get better. To be better. And for the first time, you understand what it's like to feel whole, happy...loved. For the first time, you love someone back.
For me, that someone was Drew.
**ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review**
This one was…different.
Saylor was seven years old when she found out how to garner the attention from her parents that she so desperately craved; swallow a needle. For the first time in her life, her mother wasn’t looking through her, she was looking at her. With the knowledge that sickness would get her attention, she spent the next 11 years looking for new ways to feign illness. But now, with her Munchausen syndrome at a dangerous level, her parents have no choice but to pull her out of college and move her back home. With her life essentially at rock bottom, she’s forced to attend therapy sessions, and takes up a volunteer job at the local hospital – where she joins a support group for kids with terminal illnesses under the false pretense that she is terminal as well. This is where she meets Drew, and for the first time in her life, she doesn’t have the constant ache to make herself sick; she wants to be better for him. But that means coming clean...about everything…and admitting her gigantic lie could end the very relationship that has made her want to be a better person.
I think the best word to describe this novel is unique. There are plenty of books out there where the main character is battling some sort of illness, but I have yet to find one like this; where the sickness was completely self-inflicted. I've read books that involve self-harm, and although my skin crawled just the same in this story, it felt different. Saylor wasn't hurting herself as a means of escape – she was hurting herself to gain attention. To be honest, I was surprised that my dislike for her wasn't stronger. She wasn't a character that I could relate to, in terms of both her illness and her parents' lack of affection, so I was a little taken aback by my overall sympathy for her. I mean, I'm a big softy – anyone who knows me will tell you that – but her manipulation tested me. I constantly found myself shaking my head in disbelief, and yet I never found myself hating her. The way her parents really wanted nothing to do with her just made me sad, and it was in those moments where my resolve crumbled and I felt for her. I wanted to dislike her, but I just couldn't. Tip of the cap to S.K. Falls, because it takes some serious writing chops to create a deceitful character, and still have the reader rooting for them.
I enjoyed the secondary characters, but aside from Zee, I didn't really love any of them – Drew included. Maybe I just felt like we should have gotten more of him? I don't know. I can't quite put my finger on why I wasn't emphatically shipping him and Saylor. Maybe it had to do with knowing her secret, and it wasn't even about him…I'm honestly not sure. I've been thinking about it for the past 3 days since I finished the book, and I'm getting no closer to an answer. I liked them together, but they just weren't one of my favorite book couples.
Overall, the writing was pretty great and I did find myself sucked into the story almost immediately, it just wasn't a knock out for me. I saw a few reviews where readers found themselves reduced to tears, and I don’t think I was on the brink even once. And that's saying something because again…you're dealing with a softy here! Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad by any means; it was good, just not great.