Date Published: June 17. 2014
Number of Pages: 372
Begin Date: August 25th, 2016
End Date: August 27th, 2016
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Synopsis: They said she was a murderer.
They said she killed her sister.
But they lied.
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.
Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.
Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.
But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.
Thoughts: First of all, this book gave me an irrational fear of being wrongfully convicted for a crime and being sent to prison. Chevy Stevens’ writing did an excellent job of transporting you to the prison experience that Toni had. I really felt sorry for her, especially considering she spent most of her time wanting to know what happened the night in question. Okay, I’m done imagining what would happen if I was sent to prison for something I didn’t do. On to the review! While I enjoyed this book, the characters really weren’t all that relatable for me. I was a goody-goody so Toni’s rebellious (and bratty) ways were foreign to me. I did, however, loathe the mean girls of the novel, specifically the ringleader. Of course, this was the point. Even though I couldn’t relate to the characters on a personal level, I do think they were very realistic. The characters dealt with a wide range of emotions many teenagers go through today from bullying to disagreeing with parents to falling in love, etc. I was impressed with how Chevy Stevens nailed the character’s reactions to each of these extremes.
The book begins with Toni and Ryan being sent to prison for the murder of Toni’s little sister. The story alternates between the days leading up to the murder to present day with Toni trying to cope with being released from prison after 17 years. Toni is isolated from everyone, including Ryan since she is to cease all contact with him. She has no one on the outside and even one wrong step could send her back to prison. This books stirs up emotions that you wouldn’t expect. I was worried, scared, and angry for Toni. It was a quick read because I just wanted to know what happened that night! When I did find out what happened, it really did surprise me. I didn’t see it coming. And I pride myself on being able to figure out the ending of the book. While I could guess a few things about the ending, there was still a huge twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.
Strengths: The realistic characters, the big twist at the end, and the roller coaster of emotions that this novel provokes are all strengths of this novel.
Weaknesses: For me, one weakness was that Toni is portrayed as victim most of the time. When you really get down to it, Toni is a fighter, not a victim. This is one of the best traits of the character and I think it was downplayed.