live through this

Live Through This by Mindi Scott

Coley is living a lie.  Her life appears to be perfect on the outside.  She is popular, dances on the school dance team, and has started dating a cute guy in her class.  But that’s just the surface.  After her mother fled an abusive husband in New Zealand, she has since remarried and now has three children with her new husband.  Coley and her brother, Bryan, feel like outsiders sometimes, so many years older than the other children in the family.  And then there is the secret that Coley can’t even admit to herself.  A family member is molesting her at night.  All Coley can do is pretend that it doesn’t happen and just continue to try to live her life.  But it does happen, and it’s getting more and more difficult for Coley to pretend it away.  This is a riveting story about the cost of living a lie and the courage it takes to tell the truth.

Scott’s writing is all the more powerful because of all she leaves out.  Readers know from the very first pages that Coley is being sexually assaulted at night, but Scott doesn’t reveal who it is in her family.  This builds the tension tremendously, making the book impossible to put down until that mystery is solved.  Scott depicts the abuse itself with an unflinching honesty that makes it all the more sinister.

Scott powerfully captures the character of a girl who is working as hard and as fast as she can to stay in denial about what is really happening.  Coley is a complex person, a loving and warm girlfriend and daughter on the surface, but there is so much fear and self-loathing underneath.  Coley also carries a large amount of guilt with her, because of her reaction to the abuse.  Scott does not shy away from the difficult emotions here, while always making sure that readers understand who is truly at fault.

A powerful, wrenching novel for teens that tackles incest and survival.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.