29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Teen Books

Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, 224 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/24/2014

In spite of the cute cover, this is not a book for the faint-of-heart. It opens on Taylor acting as a witness to her sister’s autopsy after her sister dies in a horrible domestic abuse accident. Since Taylor and her nephew had been living with her sister, they must now move to their grandmother’s house and attempt to move on with their lives. Taylor leaves behind an abusive boyfriend and finds that life is actually bearable when she doesn’t have to fear the safety of her nephew or herself. She meets Lily, another “girl with Baggage”. Lily lives with her mother, who was brain-damaged in an accident years ago. It’s left Lily’s mother jobless and largely dependent on Lily for the day-to-day running of the house. The first time Taylor invites Lily over to her grandparent’s house for dinner, her abusive boyfriend Devon turns up and demands that Taylor come with him. Lily, recognizing that something is off, hops into the car with them. Devon has brought a driver, a guy named Conor, who clearly owes Devon a favor. The foursome drive off to a cabin deep in the woods, far out of cellphone range and even farther from civilization. Things go from bad to worse as the girls wait to see if they’ll survive this unexpected trip.
Domestic abuse is not exactly uncommon in YA lit, but rarely is it presented in such a frank way. It’s clear that Taylor has been around abuse her entire life and sees submission as a survival mechanism. She rarely, if ever, thinks about herself. She has devoted her life to others, whether they treat her well or not. She also sees in herself the potential for the same type of anger and violence, which disturbs her. Lily is less prone to letting a guy call the shots for her; she’s been witness to her mother’s failed relationships and recognizes the signs of a person about to become violent. She still has trouble speaking up for herself, however.
This is a heart-breaking little book. It took me days to read it simply because it was hard to face the circumstances of the young women in the book. Still, Lily and Taylor are women of potential. The reader can sense that there’s more to them than the abuse and neglect they’ve endured. The reader will cheer these girls on as much as they’ll want to shake them for not fighting back. There are no easy answers in situations like these and this book does not pretend to have answers. Strings are left untied at the end, but there’s a note of hope that this fragile friendship may bloom into salvation for both young women.

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