Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shackled by Tom Leveen | Review


Sixteen-year-old Pelly has a master plan. After years of therapy, medication, and even a stint in a mental hospital, she’s finally ready to re-enter the world of the living. Pelly has been suffering from severe panic attacks ever since her best friend, Tara, disappeared from a mall six years ago.

And her plan seems to be working, until an unkempt girl accompanied by an older man walks into the coffee shop where she works. Pelly thinks she’s seen a ghost, until the girl mouths “help me” on the way out, and Pelly knows she’s just seen Tara.

Too shocked to do anything, Pelly helplessly watches Tara slip away again as she steels herself against a renewed spiral of crippling anxiety. But rather than being overcome by anxiety, Pelly feels more energized than she has in years. Determined to track down enough evidence to force the police to reopen Tara’s file, Pelly’s master plan takes a turn for the dangerous.

Pelly decides she cannot be shackled by her past—and the anxiety, fear, and grief that comes with it—any longer if she wants to save Tara. But in seeking answers through whatever means necessary, she’ll come face-to-face with true evil. And not all the shackles are in her head…


Full disclosure?  I'm a hard core Tom Leveen fan.  Just about everything he writes, I. Just. Get.  It clicks.  I understand it.  But Shackled was different for me.  I didn't put it down and immediately scream, "Omigosh, SUCH an amazing read!"

That's not because it isn't impeccably written with true-to-life dialogue and characters I can relate to.  Nope, it has all that.  It was because of the content.  I needed time to process what I read.  I needed time to wrap my head around what my heart was feeling.  This book made me have the feels so much, you guys.  So much.  So this review is heavy on the emotional side, and lighter on the technical one.  I mean, it follows, right?

I was convinced I had it figured out from the first chapter.  I knew what was going to happen.  I knew what Pelly was going to experience.  I knew where her journey would take her.  I knew how it would all end up.  And for the most part, I was right.  But the thing I didn't count on was the total whammy she did on my heart.  I got attached to this girl.  This girl who I shouldn't feel this attached to over the course of two hundred pages.  Tom was able to make me feel proud, scared, terrified, sad, giggly happy, melancholy, angry, frustrated, and content all over the course of this skinny little book.  

Oh and just because it's a skinny little book, you shouldn't discount the amount of time needed to finish this one.  While it is a skinny little book, it's so jam-packed that I sometimes needed to put it down for a few minutes to process what was going on.  Not that it was difficult to read - duh, no, it's a Tom Leveen book - but that I needed to think about choices Pelly made and what motivated her to make them.  She and I?  We're very not the same.  We handle things so differently that I could have very easily written her off as a headcase and not enjoyed the book at all.  But, these connections take time.  And I'm really glad I invested it in Pelly because she taught me a few things.  

Overall, I think you'll enjoy Shackled.  It uplifted me and enriched me, and what more can you ask from a book?

PARENTS: If you're looking for a book to share with your teen, this would be a great one.  GREAT one.  It will help them with emotional intelligence, and will give you content for very meaningful conversations.  There is strong language and strong themes including sexual abuse, rape, kidnapping, violence, and cutting.  There is teen smoking.  Be prepared to discuss these things and their motivations.  I actually really can't wait to tackle this with my girl, but it'll be at least ten years until she's old enough.  As always, you know your child the best.  Go with your gut!