Friday, May 16, 2014

{ARC Review} Breaking Free: Winter Page

Rating: 9.5/10
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Fiction,
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Page Count: 185
Format: eBook/eARC
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads SynopsisRaimi Carter is finally a girl, just like she always knew she was meant to be. At a new school where nobody knows she’s had gender reassignment surgery, she hopes to finally live the normal life she’s longed for, happy in her own skin. 

Life is great until she discovers a dangerous bully is blackmailing head cheerleader, Clare Strickland, threatening to reveal her secret: she’s gay. As Raimi fights to free Clare from his clutches, the two girls move beyond friendship. But secrets from their pasts and their own fears of coming out tear them apart—maybe forever. Baring their souls to each other could cost them everything. For two girls trapped and desperately in love, only strength, courage, and trust in each other will help them break free and claim their future.

*I received this book from Netgalley as an eARC which does not impact my honest review in any ways* 

This is the third book I have finished for Bout of Books, and it was my second 5 star book for this readathon, so I hope this great trend continues. (I'm actually reviewing this beforehand on Wednesday).  

Where do I begin? How do I even begin to express my opinions about this book? The first thing I would like to mention is that I rarely read the "About the Author" section of books, but I actually did this time, and was shocked to discover that Breaking Free is written by a high school freshman. To have a full length novel published by the time you are a high school freshman is a huge accomplishment I would have loved to achieve. The second part about Winter Page (which might be a pseudonym) that I loved was what she wants to do. "Her goal each year is to write something that makes her English teacher cry." I think this is so amazing, and I think she is a really cool person from her "About the Author", and of course her book itself.

I am actually trying out a new review type with Breaking Free, which I have sort of attempted to do before. Anyway, what I will be doing for particularly quote worthy books, such as this one, is basing my review around the quotes. I am a TOTAL quote nerd (Is that a thing?), and actually counted that I had highlighted 23 places in the book, so let's jump into the review.

"It's not about what body you're in or what body you're attracted to. It's about what's in your head. So, your genetics could say one thing, but how you act, how you think, how you were supposed to be, might say something different." 60%
Raimi Carter is hit with a double whammy in life. She's a transgender lesbian. So not only does she believe she is the wrong gender, but she likes the gender that she wants to be. Basically, Raimi used to be a boy, but took the hormonal treatments to become a girl, but instead of liking boys (who she used to be), she likes girls. The Raimi we are allowed to get to know and love is one that is finally completely comfortable in her skin, and because of what she has had to go through, is even more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic than who she would have been if her situation had been different. The Raimi she used to be was very different. The old Raimi was uncomfortable in her own skin, but thank god she had a loving, supporting mother who got her the treatment she needed.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't give birth to you in the right body. But we're going to take care of it, and don't you ever date think this is something bad or to be ashamed of. We are who we are, and it doesn't matter what anyone else says." 59%
Because of Raimi's unique situation, she has given me new perception on what it means to be a girl. I myself am a girl and perfectly comfortable and happy being a girl. I know looks are so not everything (the moral of every Disney Channel 'Original' Movie), but for Raimi, they are a huge part of her individual everything. Mentally, she is a girl, but she needed to change her outward appearance so others would see her as such, While some girls had body image and weight issues, she thought they should be happy and proud for what the hips and curves because that's what made them girls.
"Back at my old school in Texas, I used to watch girls literally starve themselves, and it made me so angry. The only thing I could think was, don't you know that's what makes you a girl, for God's sake!" 6%
What I liked most about Breaking Free was that it was so raw, real, and honest, the way only someone going through the throes of high school can represent and describe something. What I also enjoyed was that it was gritty, but beautiful at the same time. In a bullying sense, it reminded me of the book Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose, which I didn't like very much. Yet, Breaking Free was different, like it had the 'IT' factor that some books and authors only dream about. Something about it -whether it was the dry humor, somewhat painful truth of today's society, or portrayal of young love- positively sucked me in.
"Everyone has monsters, demons, they don't want to face. We as teenagers live in hormonal hell right now. And it doesn't help that we're surrounded by a bunch of people living in the same hell, too wrapped up in their own problems to really think about anyone else." 23%
You know those really cute wall hangings you can get from online stores like Etsy? Well I would LOVE to have one of those made specifically for this quote. I myself, am a teenager, and this could not ring any more true. The day I just had wasn't the best, old memories I would rather keep buried resurfaced, self doubt was inflicted by others, a test didn't go as well as I had hoped it would. People, I myself am guilty as well, get caught up in their own issues because they think its the end of the world when you can point to anyone else and say they are going through the same thing or more, which should bring you out of the "I'm the only one going through this" mood. Being a teenager is hard, there's school, social pressure, home problems, emotions, history, all and everything that happens, and this quote sums everything up.
"Life is just one big game of picking sides.... one long string of consecutive decisions we're forced to make, or that we make on our own. And then, from the decisions we make, we're sorted onto the side we play for. Kind of like Harry Potter. Except that there's not good house, no house that's a compilation of bad eggs. We're just flawed people making decisions best we can. We're not good or bad. We're just humans." 31%
This quote is just amazing and it speaks the truth. Either we make decisions, consciously, being forced, or make them without a thought. Any and either way, they're decisions, and half of the time we don't make the "right" ones. This quote also shows how much wisdom Winter Page has, and just increases my respect for her because she has figured it out.
"She was his living blow-up doll, a toy he had complete control over. It was sick. It honestly was a miracle that the AP Spanish class didn't witness its first homicide." 30%
There are three things I like about this quote. First of all, it accurately portrays how Clare was being treated by Brian a.k.a. the worst boyfriend anyone could ever have. Two, is shows how Raimi is the kind of person to stand up and speak out for what she believes in, and will not stay complacent with the way things are now. Three, the last sentence is really funny (at least in my opinion) in terms of wording.
"Sometimes the worst crime of all was inaction." 33%
The quote above is important to the story, because it gives me a chance to put the spotlight on Clare. Clare Strickland has a flawless reputation to protect, but when a little picture gets sent out by way if social media, everything changes. She is ostracized, criticized, publicly shunned, and so much more in inflicted upon her. Her case is the kind where the (annoying) school psychologist tells everyone that the bystanders are just as much at fault as the bullies themselves for staying silent.
"It should say something about you, considering it's permanent. It has to be something that's going to be in you for the rest of your life and not just a whim." 89%
I'm not going to tell you why, how, or explain so I don't spoil the story for you, but Raimi gets a tattoo (don't freak out, she was in Colorado where it's legal) for personal reasons and because of Clare. You are probably thinking "So.... what is so profound about this?" but once you read the book you will understand. The tattoo is not just a tattoo, it a permanent part of Raimi's body (as your moms and dads have reminded you every time you voice your desire for one), and it needed to make a statements to others. So she gets it on her shoulder, not so she can see it, but so others can.
"The word Free was spelled out in the trademark rainbow of gay pride. The script was outlined in black, making it stand out against my skin. The letters were beautiful, the font not big enough to look garish, but not so small that you couldn't see it." 91%
Ending: The feels hit me so hard here. At a time that I truly should have been in bed, I couldn't help myself but read. It is a page turning shocker and some truths about Clare's controlling ex-boyfriend Brian are revealed. While they may seem a tad unbelievable to some, it is a true WTF moment in the story, and provides a good resolution to his character.

Quotes 10/10: These are some quotes I couldn't find a way to weave into this (extremely long, rambling) review that I felt needed to be inserted into this blog post.

A humorous light to a serious situation.
"Oldest child supplies middle child's bad habit. Middle child gets youngest child into a party where oldest child then gives him access to what the youngest child uses to overdoes. This is why America is failing as a country." 71%
A downright hilarious quote which served that waiter right. 
"The waiter scowled, his lips pressed into an angry white line. It was evident that she had just dealt a major blow to his ego. The poor guy just got cockblocked by a girl that didn't like cock." 46%
Something a bit more.... deep.
"Sometimes, it's not about the cards we're dealt.... it's about how well we bluff." 47%
Conclusion: Breaking Free is a stunning debut novel that captivated me and showed the power of acceptance to people who are different

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