Friday, July 1, 2011

Shattered: A Daughter's Regret

Even though it is the second book in the "Secrets" series, Shattered: A Daughter's Regret by prolific author Melody Carlson, reads very much like a stand-alone novel. It centers around Cleo, a high school senior who makes one seemingly innocent rebellion, the consequences of which change her life forever.

As an only child, Cleo is a bit spoiled by her over-protective mother, much in contrast to Lola, Cleo's best friend, who is the oldest of three raised by a single mom. When Lola wins tickets from a radio show to a Christian concert, it seems the perfect plan for their last night together before Lola moves to far away San Francisco with her family. Of course, Cleo's mom won't let her go; it's not safe for two teenagers to drive alone into the city at night. But Cleo can't accept this. After her mom leaves for a friend's bachelorette party, the girls take mass transit to get into the city and to the concert. Lola believes Cleo's mom "okay"ed it and Cleo's mom believes the girls are having a slumber party. Aside from a dead cell phone battery, everything seems to be fine until the next morning.

Lola wakes Cleo for an early morning "good-bye." Moments later policemen knock on Cleo's door with news that her mother's body had been found just blocks from the concert. When Cleo checks her cell phone messages, her suspicions are confirmed. Her mother was in the wrong place at the wrong time because of her. After discovering Cleo's deception, Cleo's mom drove into the city to protect her, but met the hands of a murderer instead.

Grief and guilt combine to send Cleo into a downward spiral. Seeking to dull the pain, she takes some of her mother's old prescription medications. It dulls the ache and so she takes more. Slowly her habit becomes an addiction and soon she finds herself at the park spending her college savings to get a baggie of unknown, colorful pills from a shady drug dealer.

In the meantime, Cleo's aunt Kellie moves in to help her and her dad manage. Cleo struggles to balance that new arrangement with her secret self-medication, maintaining the lead role in her ballet recital and a budding relationship with her long-time crush at school. All while knowing she can never reveal to anyone -- not even Lola -- what role she played in her mother's death.

How long can she keep her drug habit a secret? Will she be able to quit on her own? And what role does God play in all of this? Will her father ever forgive her? Will she ever forgive herself?

What I Like: This book covers really heavy topics without being preachy. It clearly emphasizes the value of honesty and friendship (including support groups), but also highlights a beautiful balance between personal responsibility and God's grace. Forgiveness, a topic not often covered in YA literature is a pervasive theme. I really liked that. I like that the characters are fully developed. The whole book is wonderfully realistic without going crazy with unsavory details. Nicely done.

What I Dislike:
The text goes back and forth between first person present tense and first person past tense. I realize this is a storytelling tactic as old as the written word, but I found it annoying. More importantly, I wish the spiritual content had been stronger. It was there, but extremely subtle.

Overall Rating:
Very Good

Age Appeal:
Teen

Publisher Info:
NavPress, 2011; ISBN: 1600069495; Paperback; 208 pages; $14.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $9.49!


OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $10.94. This title is also available in Kindle format for $7.99.

Special Info:
Parents should note that substance abuse is a main theme within this book. In addition to the illegal use of drugs, it also references the sale and purchase of illegal drugs. Themes discussed but not central include alcoholism, murder and suicide.

See our reviews of other books by this author.

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2 comments:

Kathy C. said...

I've read both books in this series. I think the first one (teen pregnancy) should be require reading--even--or maybe especially-for teens boys. This second one is a good book too but less likely to be a situation the average teen will face.

Tanya said...

Thanks, Kathy, for stopping by and offering your thoughts! I've not read the first book in the series, but would definitely like to. I reviewed a book a while back about teen pregnancy that I thought was excellent, though because of its format and specifically targeted audience, may not appeal to all who need to learn about the topic.

I agree with you that the death of a parent, as discussed in Shattered, is not a common situation to teens, but the drug addiction definitely is. I think it's important for teens to see how easy it can be to slip into destructive habits as a form of "coping," regardless of the pressures that cause it.