Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti {book review}

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book. These are my honest thoughts.

This book was good, perhaps great, but it wasn’t a good fit for me.

The first half was so stuffed with sarcasm that I really struggled to feel connected with it at all. I had difficulty feeling bad for Mara when things went completely sideways on her, simply because she wasn’t a very likable or relatable character to me through the entire first half. (I did learn to like her better as things progressed into the second half, thankfully.)

Then, here trots the second half, and I’m completely blown away.

That’s what I expect from a Ruchti novel: to be emotionally moved and completely blown away. She succeeded once again, in the second half of the story.

Ashlee and Sol were amazing from beginning to end, and they were the ones who kept me interested when the Jacobs family didn’t. I did like the growth each of the Jacobses showed in the second half of the story. That was really well done and gave me great hope for their next chapter after the finale of this particular glimpse into their lives.

My hopes were up high for discovering what was inside a certain missive. Even though there was lots of lead-up to discovery, the actual revelation never happened, so that thread was left completely unfinished for me.

Yet, the climax and finale were stunning and beautiful and exactly the way they should have been. The finale line, which I will not share here, was so exactly Sol… It really took my breath away and made me grin. I cannot fully express the satisfaction and amazement I experienced in those final chapters, despite a couple of unfinished tidbits.

Mara’s grief journey was superb. I wish I could have “enjoyed” it from the beginning, but that overly-sarcastic first half hampered my emotions from getting properly engaged until about the halfway point. Once I got invested, though, I held nothing back. Tears were shed, folks. A couple of times, actually. Mara really grew on me quickly in the back half of the story. Her grief and sorrow were exquisitely expressed. I liked that she reacted poorly at times, because that made her so realistic. We don’t always think clearly in the midst of grief, and that was fantastically shown here.

If sarcasm (in heavy doses) wasn’t a huge pet peeve for me, I probably would have adored this book. I know many other readers will love it.

Side note: I’m not sure why there was such a heavy emphasis on calling cranberry sauce “gel.” Every can of cranberry sauce I’ve ever seen (in person [in various states, not just my own of Texas, because this is one of my favorite foods], online, and on television) has been labeled as “cranberry sauce” (some are labeled “jellied cranberry sauce”), so I’m not sure where this non-plot issue (no one was even shown eating the “gel” after it got to the event) came from. It was very distracting and took me out of the story for a good half hour so I could do some research on the subject. Even after that amount of time, I still came up empty on any references online to cranberry “gel.”

Trigger: suicide (child and adult)

Content: teen smoking, teen drug use, child drug use, suicide (child and adult), teen pregnancy (mentioned), gambling (mentioned)

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