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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 2 star ratings
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    Loved the message of empowerment!

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book after reading on a different review that there's not a big focus on romance. The author dealt so well with the themes and I was captivated as I read about Ashlyn's journey that was at times difficult, uncomfortable, healing, and empowering. I appreciated being able to see the family dynamics that brought Ashlyn to the point she is at mentally at the beginning of the book, flaws and all. Family secrets are revealed and she is instantly and unwillingly thrust onto a path of discovery- more about her parents, extended family, and also about herself. The cast of characters that support her and those that she interacts with in a more negative way were brought to life and rounded out the story well. I especially liked seeing her relationship develop with her cousin and the quiet zipline instructor who makes a wonderful friend. A lovely story of becoming self-aware and choosing to be strong in the circumstances we are given. (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)
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    Thank you for addressing mental health issues

    I do love to read coming-of-age YA novels, so I was intrigued by the blurb to this book. I was also intrigued by the idea of it being related to the tale of Hansel and Gretel. I have to admit that I had a hard time following that parallel, but it has been years since I last read that. But I didn't need the connection to appreciate this book and inhale it in one sitting. Ashlyn made a mistake in her past choices. She has spent the last year repenting in a way, and I dislike her father a lot for being so hard on her. The more that she reveals about her father's demands for perfection out of her and her mother, the less I like him and the more I feel sorry for her. She's had an easy life, relatively speaking in a financial sense, but has to carry around this burden of that omnipresent voice in her head telling her that her thoughts and actions are inappropriate. She doesn't know how to be true to herself, but you can tell that she wants to discover how to do this. She also wants to reconnect with her family and her home live after having been sent away to school for the past year. But of course, her father has now been arrested and is going away to prison for a while. Her mother is completely unable to cope and sinks into a deep depression, so she is going away to a rehab facility of sorts to help her through this. Meanwhile, Ashlyn is being shoved off onto her aunt and uncle briefly until she has to start work at a resort that specializes in helping people to learn how to trust and to empower themselves. As expected, Ashlyn goes through incredible growth and discovers so much about herself and her strengths. She develops incredible leadership skills and forges relationships with some people she may not have otherwise. I love watching her journey and how she grows. I also love how much she loves words. She memorizes quotations, which she keeps in a quote journal. She has a tendency to write them down all over the place, thus leaving little breadcrumbs of inspiration for others to discover. I found myself even taking note of some of them. I would also like to give kudos to the author for addressing mental health via Ashlyn's mom and how too often we like to sweep it under the rug and not acknowledge what is really going on. I need to know where Ashlyn goes from here. And I am going to have to check out the rest of the series to find out more about her and her friends. (But fear not, this book definitely stands on its own.) I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.
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