Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
“Even though your wounds are not your fault, your healing is still your responsibility.”
This book was a lovely shorter read to enjoy as I took a break from a longer book – the perfect choice for someone who loves a YA romance! It was an easy read that didn’t take me long at all to get through, but the theme of mental health is portrayed strongly throughout. Just a word of warning that the book contains themes of sexual and physical abuse, as well as self harm – although only mild, it may be something to take on board if this affects you. So happy to be sharing my review for this book for the lovely Regina Ann Faith!
Rain is an artist who likes to paint, draw and write what God speaks to her on a daily basis. She is in community college majoring in art studies.
She is trying to cope with the loss of her maternal grandparents when she also experiences a sexual assault. After these two traumatic life occurrences, Rain decides to commit herself into a psychiatric ward.
In the ward, she meets a guy named Chase. Chase is a goth who also expresses himself through art. He is dealing with some issues of his own. But when he meets Rain, he reluctantly befriends her. She challenges his own thinking on being able to forgive as she is also working to forgive.
Can they both heal from what has happened to them? Can the artistic bond they both share aid in the healing process? Can forgiveness truly cover the hurts and mistakes of the past?
Oh, Rain! As soon as I started reading this story, I wanted to scoop this character up and pull her into a hug to ease that heavy heart of hers. We’re introduced to this character in a way that makes you very keen to read her journey, but also to learn of her backstory, which made such a clever opening from this author. Just a few paragraphs in, I’d given a piece of my heart to Rain! It soon becomes clear that this character has a passion for art, and this was a real joy to read about in the book, and was something very different to the norm. Her recent project was sure to keep her busy and hopefully prevent her from those feelings of deflation that seemed to have taken over right now. However, it isn’t until she gets a phone call from her mother in tears that the panic sets in for the reader and we’re hit with the news that we really don’t want to hear. The scenes go by at a fast pace in this book, but that doesn’t stop us from getting so emotionally connected to these characters – I really felt for them.
It was as though Rain knew that a bad day was imminent on the day she got the bad news. I found it easy to place myself in this character’s shoes and feel her and her family’s pain as they worked through their loss. Emotion seemed to be one of the author’s strong points and I really enjoyed reading these scenes, even though they were so saddening. Family also plays a big part in this book which particularly stood out to me. It seemed Rain and her family shared similar values to myself which just made me even more attached! We join Rain as she attempts to cope with the loss of some very important people in her life, and this journey is far from easy. I would have really liked to have seen a little bit more detail in places at this point in the book – even though I could feel the emotion and sadness, I felt this was a little too fast paced for my liking. However, this was only the start, and I knew the story would just get deeper soon enough!
“She continued to draw and paint, even though she was going through a difficult time. It was her escape.”
After making the decision to continue with her studies after taking four months away to cope with her family’s loss, Rain meets Zachary – he seems a real gent on the surface, and at this point of the story, I had high hopes for him. It was really nice to see that Rain had someone to talk to and begin her classes with, and I really wanted to see this relationship blossom in a positive way. Having something new and positive in her life was such a crucial thing after the pain she had suffered recently. However, all this hope I had for Zach drained away as quickly as it came, and he quickly became a character I despised. The author shocks the reader in a way that makes you think anything possible in this book, and really opened my eyes further – you can never tell how much you know about a person straight away and you should always be extra cautious about who you trust.
There is a trigger warning at this part of the book for sexual abuse, so you may want to pass on this one if you’re affected by this. After the horrors Rain has to endure, she spirals downwards again. After just picking herself up after the bad news in her family, she’s kicked back down in the worst possible way. The author has created a character you just want to dive into the book and look after, keeping her from harms way and protecting her from life. She began to hate her art work which really broke my heart, especially as the author had done such a brilliant job of portraying Rain’s passion, something she wanted to pursue to make her grandparents proud. This was enough for me to get all teary eyed! Rain’s mental health deteriorates and she realises she needs help. This was the first step to her recovery, and with the right help, I knew she’d bounce back again! She was determined and certainly a fighter!
Booking a counselling appointment turns out to be the best decision for Rain, and I was so pleased she was talking the right steps to aid her recovery. The journey would be long, but I knew she’d get the support she needed. I really liked just how knowledgeable the author seems in counselling processes and the steps a person needs to take to get the help they need. I felt like so many readers who have suffered could take a lot away from this book, and even help them to get into the right mindset to fix those toxic thoughts that might plague their mind. A crucial character in Rain’s healing process was the lovely Layla, her group leader, who was one of the most understanding, patient and kind women I’ve read about in recent times! I knew this character would continue to support Rain on her healing journey, but I also felt there was something missing. Perhaps a close friend she could lean on and speak to when times got particularly tough. And it isn’t long before we meet him.
We suddenly shift from following Rain’s story, to following a completely different character we’ve not yet met. However, after reading the synopsis to the story, I knew exactly who he’d be, and I really liked how the author approached this introduction. Chase’s story was traumatic and we learn of his life from a very young age. He suffered physical abuse from his drunken father growing up, with a mother who didn’t believe her son’s accusations. The author has created this character brilliantly, and already, I could see how Chase and Rain would have so much in common with one another. Would either of them be brave enough to let the other in, especially with what Rain has experienced in the past? I was looking forward to the moment these characters meet, and how each of them would influence the other. The mental health issues in the first half of the book were approached with care and attention, and I hoped we’d hear about these characters further on the right side of recovery.
“She couldn’t keep lying to her parents and living this hellish nightmare that was eating away at her core every single day.”
It became clear at this point in the story that this book was about really getting to know Rain and Chase as characters, and understand just how their lives had spiraled with mental health issues before seeking help. Here, I felt I knew Chase just as much as I’d gotten to know Rain along the way, and I felt all this was crucial to what we’d experience next, and even in the books to follow this one. I found the author’s aim for this book to be really clear, and I was starting to become curious about the future of the characters we’d really gotten to know. The emotion is strong as we witness Chase’s third unsuccessful suicide attempt, and this time, he’s told he must take action to get himself better. It saddened me reading just how much Chase wanted to end it all and how he couldn’t cope with life as he knew it. I don’t know what it’s like to reach this low point, but I know others who have. Terrifying, but I also think it should be spoken about much more! I needed some good news – would we get it in this book?
As we switch back to Rain’s perspective, it felt good to hear from her, almost like she was a friend I’d not seen for some time! Such a strange but welcome reading experience. Both Rain and Chase were at similar points in each other’s lives here, and it was clear the two would soon be meeting for the first time. I liked how the reader knows everything about both of these characters; their similarities and what they’ve been through in their lives is strikingly similar. However, at this point, neither of them know the other exists. We follow Rain as she settles into the psych ward, unsure of what to expect, but soon finds the ward’s residents welcoming. Seeing Chase for the first time, Rain takes him all in, and it was clear he stood out a mile with his gothic look, something she was keen to explore. I hoped these characters really hit it off, being each other’s crutch and potentially each other’s safe place as they move on in their lives.
Rain’s kind and caring nature really shines at this part of the book and she feels she needs to understand Chase and everything he’s gone through in this life. She also manages to make a few new friends who show her the ropes in the ward and make her feel at home. The author paints a clear picture of this place and shows the reader that it’s a place of recovery and hope – a chance at a new start for so many others who have gone through various traumas in their lives, some so different to Rain’s experiences. At the start, Chase seems very withdrawn, and always seemed as though he preferred his own company over anyone else’s. Would Rain have to work extra hard to get to know him? Would Chase ever be able to trust a stranger with details of his life he rarely shared with anyone else?
The moment we see Rain and Chase really bond for the first time was just a lovely thing to experience. Chase is really taken aback by the artwork she’d created for him, and he apologised for how he’d been acting, gushing about how much of a good person and friend she was being. Not only was this friendship something that Chase craved, but for Rain, this was more than she could imagine – helping someone in need whilst attempting to heal herself. I don’t think she quite understood just how important he’d be in her life after this point and as we got nearer to the end of the book, it made me think of all the other potential things we could see from these characters in book two of the series. Would their friendship be improved upon and go further than ‘just friends’?
“She couldn’t tell them what what the next step in the healing process was for her. She felt she still needed to work through some unresolved issues.”
I found the ending of the book to be rather abrupt and I really wanted to know what Rain and Chase’s relationship was. I didn’t really sense the love between the two as much as I wanted and I thought this book could have been a little longer to really make the reader believe in these two characters, and everything they stood for. However, saying this, this is just book one in the series, and I’m sure the author has many plans for us to get to know these characters further and for us to follow them on their new lives out of recovery. Religion is not something I usually read, but mentions of God and praying for outcomes in a situation was included so naturally by the author at the end of the book. There wasn’t too much or too little of this and I thought this really complemented the story well, and even made us connect to Rain and what she believes a little more.
With Chase leaving the ward after his recovery and Rain believing more time in this place would benefit her healing, the pair part ways and say their temporary goodbyes. It’s clear the effect they’ve had on one another, and we can sense that they’re sad to go their separate ways, but they plan to keep in touch, with Chase planning to visit her regularly. I found myself thinking of the journey they could have together once Rain gets out of the ward, and now we’ve met and gotten to know the two main characters well, I thought there was so much the author could explore in the series now. A lovely story that with a few adjustments in the books to follow, would make a really enjoyable series for many YA and romance fans.
The overall idea of this story was wonderful – two well explored characters on their healing journey bond over their love of art, teaching each other how to be and encouraging each other to be better. I thought the themes of mental health and everything that comes with it was portrayed well and the balance of it all was great. However, the book does lack the intense description and the excitement I was looking for, with the fast pace soon making me lose concentration in parts. I thought the dialogue seemed a little robotic in parts too, but I do get that it’s written in simpler terms for a YA audience!
I was desperate to learn more about how Chase and Rain’s relationship developed and it all flew by a little too fast for me. I would have liked to have seen the art side of things explored a little more too, but saying this though, I’m still intrigued to see where book two will take us, and I look forward to catching up with these characters in this book! I thought the author had definitely found her niche with ALITPW, and Rain and Chase are clearly two characters she holds close to her heart – it shows!