**I received this ebook from Chris Tusa through Librarything's Early Reviewers
I would actually give this book a 3.5 and it is the subject matter not the writing that edges me from 4 stars.
I read this story in a trance of horror. Chris Tusa’s simple prose style is compelling and although about one third of the way through I felt the pace dragging a little the writing pulled me on in.
16 year old Haily is our main protagonist. She comes from an ordinary, loving middle class family that is going through a crisis and slowly falling apart. Somehow (in a way that is inexplicable and terrifying to a middle-class parent such as myself) both Hailey and her older brother Cyrus have fallen in with the local dregs of society and spend most of their free-time hanging around in slum, drinking.
Cyrus is a loving older brother but filled with anger with a tendency to solved issues with his fists. This leads to trouble especially when he becomes involved with Moses who is the type of evil character that makes your skin crawl from the moment you first encounter him.
Hailey is also drawn in to this tawdry youth scene associating with Meridian and Chase both vain, mean hearted young people. The type of trash that every mother would pray her daughter never befriends.
In contrast to this Hailey shows her caring and compassionate side in her relationships Verma, a family friend she helps with chores, and Mr Guidry, a cancer patient she hardly knows.
Both the setting and most of the relationships are sordid and the only saving grace is the truly loving, caring relationship between Hailey, Cyrus and their father.
Some reviewers have mentioned the bad language but for me it was so in character I hardly noticed. And although the sex was degrading and the violence shocking I felt that this was the whole point. Nothing in this book is glorified.
My overall impression is one of grime. The author frequently describes the characters with dirty fingers or greasy unwashed hair, bad breath and ripped clothes. Most locations are deserted, dilapidated and full of junk. Even Hailey’s family home has an air of being uncared for.
This is not a place I would want to go.
This is not a fun read. To be honest I experienced a certain revulsion and a strong desire to run away but the writing style pulled me in and gives the tale a satisfactory ending.
The text needs some editing for consistency, repetition and a little tightening of the prose. Though this didn’t affect the flow of my reading at all