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A Life, Redefined
A Rowan Slone Novel #1
by Tracy Hewitt Meyer
Published June 21st 2013
Published by Cerulean Publishing
Source: Review copy
Seven years ago, an innocent act by Rowan Slone turned her life into a nightmare. Since the age of ten she's lived with the burden of her baby brother's death. Now she is seventeen and all she wants to do is graduate high school, go to college, and escape the loveless family she has endured all these years - the same family that holds her responsible for his death. But no one holds her responsible more than herself.
When long-time crush Mike Anderson invites her to the Prom, suddenly her future looks brighter. Rowan's younger sister, Trina, however, is determined to ruin her new-found happiness, no matter the cost. And when Rowan discovers her mother's long-held secret, she finds herself teetering on the edge of an abyss. Can Rowan find the strength to move toward the future or is she doomed to dwell in the past?
For the last seven years, Rowan has been blamed by her parents and sister for her baby brother's death in the novel A Life, Redefined. She was only ten years old at the time and what happened wasn't her fault. The way her family behaves towards her is sickening with their accusing stares and blaming her for everything that goes wrong with the family.
She lives like a shadow in her own house - doing her best to stay clear of her father. Her mother stays in bed all day and is developing health problems from lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet. Her sister is selfish and openly blames Rowan for everything that's gone wrong with their family. Her gran comes over every now and then to do things like cook and do the laundry since their mother never does.
I loved Rowan from the start and felt protective of her. Whatever she felt, I felt it, too. I was there with her every step of the way, knew her thoughts and feelings, and cheered her on to achieve her goals of graduating high school and attending college, leaving her family behind to live her life without the accusing stares.
It seemed like such a waste that seven years of her life were spent feeling like she's a murderer of her own baby brother. I can't imagine the anguish of not only grieving his death but also feeling like I was responsible. It's one thing to blame yourself, but when you're openly blamed by people who are supposed to love you, that takes it to another level.
Twists in the story brought more conflicts for the characters, leaving me to think, How much more can one family take? It became clear over time that Rowan's family was dysfunctional before the death of her baby brother, which was a bit disheartening to find out but also made a lot of sense and explained a lot. I was happy that Rowan's guidance counselor was so supportive of her, and she knew the family history so she knew how high the stakes are for Rowan to get out of the toxic living environment.
A Life, Redefined is a phenomenal novel with the kind of emotional intensity that will have you crying and grieving right along with Rowan. Five stars from me, and I wish I could give it more.
A Life, Forward
A Rowan Slone Novel #2
by Tracy Hewitt Meyer
Published April 7th 2014
Genre: New Adult
Source: Review copy
A New Adult Novel
Her father is gone. Her mother is in jail. And Rowan Slone has left her dysfunctional, violent past behind. With college looming on the horizon, she has a new job that she loves, and a safe place to call home. She is close to achieving everything she ever wanted - a sense of family, a sense of purpose, and a sense of self.
But there are cracks in Rowan's life that threaten to send her future crumbling to the ground. When her relationship begins to suffer, her father returns and her long-held secret is discovered, Rowan must find the courage to fight for the most important thing yet - herself.
Rowan is on her way to achieving her goals in A Life, Forward, but she begins to fall into her old ways of unhealthy coping. The relationship that she has with Mike is crumbling before her eyes, and with him away at college, it's awkward at times living with his parents. She doesn't feel like she fits into their life and doesn't want to be known as that girl with all the problems.
Knowing her history, Mike was a lot less empathetic in this novel than he was in the first one. I felt like I didn't know the character anymore because the careless way he treated Rowan wasn't the way he would have treated her in the first novel. College changes people but not that much, and I was disappointed with him. He should have been much more sensitive.
With the huge lie Rowan's sister spread in the first novel, I wondered how she could be walking around their small town with absolutely no consequences for her lie? Shouldn't she be the town pariah? But she's going to parties and is still ultra-popular at school. Shouldn't everyone hate her? I wish that had been explored.
I was sad and scared to see Rowan heading back down the path she had just escaped from - feeling alone and overwhelmed. I could empathize with her, knowing what it's like to feel alone even when you're surrounded by people. She isn't an insecure and clingy girlfriend to Mike even after living with open hostility from her family for so many years. He's the person who worked tirelessly to find out what was going on and just happens to also be her boyfriend. They began heading down two different paths, and to me, it was too soon for that to happen.
Shocking secrets are revealed, and after the fallout, I felt like I was dealing with the aftermath just as much as the characters. A Life, Forward is a novel I recommend reading (once you've read the first one of course!) that is emotionally raw and powerful. if you want to understand how someone could cut herself and feel alone in a crowd of people.
About the Author
Tracy Hewitt Meyer is a multi-genre, multi-published author of new adult fiction as well as adult paranormal and contemporary romance. She has a B.A. in English and a Master of Social Work, both of which feed her true passion - a love of writing. Born and raised in the beautiful state of West Virginia, Tracy now lives in the mid-east with her family, a goldendoodle, and a bearded dragon.
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